Conservation Issues

Ocean plastic

Ocean plastic, or ‘marine debris’, is human-created waste that has deliberately or accidentally been released into the ocean. Floating oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or tidewrack.

With the increasing use of plastic, human influence has become an issue as many types of plastics do not biodegrade. Waterborne plastic poses a serious threat to fish, seabirds, marine reptiles, and marine mammals.


Overfishing is a form of overexploitation where fish stocks are reduced to below acceptable levels. Overfishing can occur in water bodies of any sizes, such as ponds, rivers, lakes or oceans, and can result in resource depletion, reduced biological growth rates and low biomass levels. Sustained overfishing can lead to critical depensation, where the fish population is no longer able to sustain itself. Some forms of overfishing, for example the overfishing of sharks, has led to the upset of entire marine ecosystems.

Overfishing occurs when more fish are caught than the population can replace through natural reproduction. Gathering as many fish as possible may seem like a profitable practice, but overfishing has serious consequences. The results not only affect the balance of life in the oceans, but also the social and economic well-being of the coastal communities who depend on fish for their way of life.

Global warming

Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects. Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming.

Sea levels are rising and oceans are becoming warmer. Longer, more intense droughts threaten crops, wildlife and freshwater supplies. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate.

Habitat destruction

Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity is mainly for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industry production and urbanization. Clearing habitats for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling and urban sprawl.

Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the primary cause of species extinction worldwide.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Wildlife crime is a big business. Run by dangerous international networks, wildlife and animal parts are trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms. By its very nature, it is almost impossible to obtain reliable figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade.

Unsustainable wildlife trade can cause a species to reach a point where its survival hangs in the balance. In fact, illegal wildlife trade is one of the main reasons that many species are endangered. For example, rhino poaching to fuel to demand for the illegal rhino horn trade reached an all-time high in 2011, with 448 rhinos poached in South Africa alone. This could unravel years of conservation success with African rhinos.


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