Ocean Trouble Spots

Ocean Trouble Spots

Several problems plague our oceans. OI is researching ways to restore the health of our oceans. Here are the problem areas that all oceans face.

Ocean and Coastal Habitats

In order for oceans to be restored to their original state, we must understand, protect, restore, and sustainably use ocean and coastal habitats.

Ocean and coastal habitats are very diverse, ranging from coastal streams and sandy beaches to seagrass beds and kelp forests, and from coral reefs and arctic ice shelves to open ocean waters and deep ocean canyons.

The nation's ocean and coastal habitats support some of the most valuable and diverse biological resources on the planet, including 66 percent of all U.S. commercial and recreational fish and shellfish, 45 percent of all protected species, 50 percent of nongame migratory birds, 30 percent of migratory waterfowl, and thousands of other species. These habitats also provide important services, including flood control, water filtration and storage, storm protection, food production, and recreation and tourism.

While it is clear that human activities have degraded or destroyed many ocean and coastal habitats, in some cases, the scope and magnitude of these impacts are largely unknown, and we do not fully understand the complex processes related to ocean and coastal habitats.

Recent scientific examination of the effects of bottom trawling on the seafloor shows evidence of large-scale habitat alteration, particularly within less resilient seafloor communities. Other activities, such as dredging, although necessary to maintain our nation's waterways, can also harm valuable riparian and estuarine habitats and raise ancillary problems associated with contaminated dredge material and its disposal. Human activities, such as residential and commercial development, can alter or destroy valuable coastal wetlands, which are critical habitat for many species of fish, shellfish, birds, and other marine wildlife.