Around the world, people dump tons of nitrogen and phosphorous into the oceans, which could have dire consequences for the underwater world. So the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, is sounding the alarm, because a recent UN report shows that the number of dead zones in the oceans – places where there is little oxygen in the water – has increased dramatically.
Between 2008 and 2019, the number of dead zones increased from more than 400 to about 700, according to the United Nations’ Second World Ocean Assessment, which reports on the state of the oceans. In addition to the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea, the Baltic and North Seas are mainly affected.
This phenomenon occurs naturally in some marine areas, mainly due to algal blooms. With a strong growth of algae, the oxygen content can drop to a dangerous point. In this way, vast areas can form at life-threatening depths. Drainage of nutrients into the ocean, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, promotes algal blooms.
The report said that man-made nitrogen imports to the coasts are projected to double in the first half of the 21st century. Additionally, rising water temperatures due to global warming will also have a negative impact.
So UN Secretary António Guterres speaks of an alarming trend. “The pressures of many human activities continue to overburden the oceans and destroy important habitats,” he said. He stressed again the importance of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as this harms marine life.
Meanwhile, the United Nations sees a positive development in the number of accidents involving ships. Accidents in the oceans have decreased dramatically in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, an average of 88 ships were “lost” each year, compared to 120 ships every year in the previous five years. There are fewer and fewer oil spills.
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