Life Below the Water: Challenges in Sustainable Management and Conservation of Tropical Marine Ecosystems
Dr Neil Hutchinson shares his insights on how our actions impact our oceans, and the challenges we face in protecting them.
To commemorate International Day of the Tropics in 2021, James Cook University in Singapore held a webinar to explore and learn more about one of our planet’s most precious resources – our oceans. Dr Neil Hutchinson, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at James Cook University in Singapore, shared his lifelong fascination with the environment, along with insights on coastal marine communities, to highlight areas of concern and the challenges that we have in protecting our marine ecosystems.
While it may be tough to think beyond our direct sphere of influence, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic where international travel is restricted, the fact remains that our oceans are globally connected. Our oceans perform critical functions such as helping to transport heat across the planet and regulating the climate.
They are also home to a diverse range of marine species such as the frilled shark and vampire squid, and the Southeast Asia region is a global hotspot for coastal species richness.
Coastal ecosystems provide us with a number of benefits, such as shoreline protection and the provision of seafood. Unfortunately, they are being degraded through human activities such as overfishing, reclamation and marine pollution.
Climate change also has a significant impact on our oceans. The wide range of consequences include degradation of habitats, disruption to fisheries, bleaching of corals, rising sea levels and more.
It is very easy to be overwhelmed by these problems. However, there are a diverse range of ideas and approaches out there that we can tap on to solve these issues. Through scientific research, we can inform global policies that can provide intervention or management strategies to tackle the issues affecting our oceans. Collaboration plays a key role in all of this, as we share our oceans and no one country can or should face these challenges alone.
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