March 2004

"Dead zones" grow in polluted oceans

"Dead zones" grow in polluted oceans: 

Delegates attending the meeting of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in South Korea this week were warned about growing "dead zones" in the world's oceans, where plants and animals cannot live. These areas have doubled in the past decade, and experts say the oxygen-deprived areas could pose a greater threat to the world's fish stocks than over-fishing. Scientists stated that a rapid escalation in nitrogen and phosphorus levels in water, caused by fertilizer use and vehicle and factory emissions, has created almost 150 oxygen-starved dead zones around the world. One of the worst places is the Gulf of Mexico, where an area of nearly 50,000 square miles has been classified as deoxygenated and unable to sustain life. The problem is directly linked to nutrients or fertilizers brought to the Gulf by the Mississippi. Other dead zones have been appearing off South America, China, Japan, southeast Australia and New Zealand.

See the "Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Year Book 2003," published by UNEP.