Skip to main content

Oceans: Building Resilient Ecosystems

Plastic found in the ocean.

Have you ever dropped your phone in the water, never to find it again?

Well, according to new research out of Australia, that’s exactly what’s happening to 99 percent of the plastic that should be in the ocean; except, instead of one phone, we’re talking about millions of tons of plastic phone cases, straws, water bottles and other items that plasticize our lives. 

Parrotfish.

Since the May 14 release of the Earthjustice video titled Coral and Parrotfish – A Love Story, more than 100,000 people have learned how parrotfish can be essential players in coral preservation.

The video takes viewers scuba diving with Earthjustice attorney Andrea Treece as she explores Caribbean coral reefs and describes legal efforts to restore balance to the coral ecosystem:

I’ve always been a biology geek.

As a kid, the ocean gave me a sense of awe and belonging.  I loved the other-worldly creatures of the sea and all the unexpected ways they interact with one another. I still love to be outside, in the water, exploring and observing the natural world.  So why, in the name of all that is good and sensible, did I become a lawyer? 

When Jacques Costeau’s film crew first captured the beauty and abundance life among Caribbean coral reefs, we fell in love with the ocean. 

Today, many of those same reefs are collapsing. Once vibrant coral reef ecosystems look like rubble fields. The fish are few, and algae has smothered and killed the reefs.

Atlantic Trawler

The annual spring migration of river herring into East Coast estuaries and rivers historically supported a wealth of predator life, cultural events, and even thriving commercial fisheries.

But a deadly combination of overfishing at sea, dams and pollution in rivers has contributed to a 96 percent decline in river herring populations. Despite removal of dams and reduced pollution in rivers, the recovery has been stubbornly slow, leading scientists to say that the problems at sea must be addressed.

Atlantic menhaden.

On Friday, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finally responded to sound science and a huge public outcry by imposing the first ever coastwide cap on the catch of a little fish known as the menhaden.

More than 100,000 Americans (including more than 13,000 Earthjustice activists) wrote to the commission demanding protection for a fish that is an essential food source for seabirds, whales, and game fish like the striped bass.

The "Sacred Cod".

In Massachusetts, a wooden carving of a 5-foot long codfish known as the “Sacred Cod” hangs above the entrance to the State House’s Hall of Representatives, right in the House Speaker’s line of sight. It’s a reminder to all of the importance of the fishing industry to the area, which once overflowed with Atlantic cod and halibut, ocean perch, haddock and yellowtail flounder, but has since been decimated by overfishing, loose regulations and a failure to sustainably manage the ocean ecosystem.