Science can ‘curb our ocean abuses’

Posted: 07/09/2011 in all marine news

Scot Mackay –

A top New Zealand marine scientist is concerned about the detrimental effect human activities are having on the environment and the scant resources used to combat it.

Otago University marine science head of department Professor Gary Wilson yesterday said more resources needed to be applied to research into the marine environment to protect the future of ecosystems.

New Zealand was a maritime nation with the fourth biggest marine estate in the world and relied heavily on it for everything from food to tourism, but there was limited funding put towards understanding the environment and the impact humans had on it, he said.

“It is frightening to think, considering the size of the marine realm and the influence it has on the terrestrial environment where we all live, how few people and what limited resources we have to understand it,” he said.

Some people were scared of what science could show but, by being able to build data and understand how one ecosystem relied on another, it could help increase productivity while also protecting the environment, he said.

“In some ways we are frightened to learn [what impacts we are having] … because of our reliance on the environment – but in reality science doesn’t prejudge the outcome, the outcome has the opportunity to be more helpful than not,” he said.

Mr Wilson’s comments echoed the concerns outlined by National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research principal scientist of coastal ecosystems Simon Thrush, who spoke before about 150 marine enthusiasts during the opening presentation of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society’s annual conference.

Dr Thrush said New Zealanders needed to recognize the true value of nature and marine biodiversity to sustain it for future generations and that management needed to come through an integrated scientific and political process.

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