“We have to realize that hypoxia is not a local problem,” said Robert J. Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “It is a global problem and it has severe consequences for ecosystems. It’s getting to be a problem of such a magnitude that it is starting to affect the resources that we pull out of the sea to feed ourselves,” he added.
Diaz and co-author Rutger Rosenberg report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science that there are now more than 400 dead zones around the world, double what the United Nations reported just two years ago. “If we screw up the energy flow within our systems we could end up with no crabs, no shrimp, no fish. That is where these dead zones are heading unless we stop their growth,” Diaz said in a telephone interview.
The newest dead areas are being found in the Southern Hemisphere — South America, Africa, parts of
Diaz and Rosenberg, of the
Some of the reports are being published for the first time in journals accessible to Western scientists, he said. Nancy N. Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, said she was not surprised at the increase in dead zones. “There have been many more reported, but there truly are many more. What has happened in the industrialized nations with agribusiness as well that led to increased flux of nutrients from the land to the estuaries and the seas is now happening in developing countries,” said Rabalais, who was not part of Diaz’ research team. She said she was told during a 1989 visit to South America that rivers there were too large to have the same problems as the