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World - Ocean Industries Often More Polluting than Terrestrial Counterparts

In 2008 the United Nations designated June 8 as World Oceans Day, “a day for humanity to celebrate the ocean.” Since then, it’s had about as much to do with the ecological economic and human rights disasters affecting our seas as Arbor Day has to do with global deforestation.

In 2008 the United Nations designated June 8 as World Oceans Day, “a day for humanity to celebrate the ocean.” Since then, it’s had about as much to do with the ecological economic and human rights disasters affecting our seas as Arbor Day has to do with global deforestation. Because it’s so vast and poorly regulated, the ocean sector of the global economy has been largely out of sight and out of mind.

A recent study from Duke University’s School of Business found that 100 companies with combined revenues of over $1 trillion control 60 percent of the global ocean economy. Nine of the top 10 are oil companies, including Exxon, Shell, BP, and state-owned companies from Saudi Arabia and Iran. High levels of corporate consolidation and control also exist in the cruise ship industry, container shipping, and port services, and industrial fishing fleets—heavily subsidized by China, Japan, the European Union, and other nations—are killing fish faster than they can reproduce and threatening whales, dolphins, and other critical species in the process. While factory farms are horrific in their cruelty and ecological impacts, industrial trawlers that scrape the bottom of the ocean of all life combine the worst aspects of overfishing and clear-cut logging.

In many ways, ocean industries are even more polluting than their terrestrial counterparts. Much of the global shipping fleet uses bunker fuel, the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet. Illegal bilge dumping of oily waste continues despite periodic crackdowns, resulting in more than 800,000 tons of fuel oil sludge and other waste entering the ocean each year.


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