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  • Uploaded on 2001.\_natchap.pdf 2007. Our coastal waters are in trouble:. 95\% of San Francisco Bay's original wetlands have been destroyed 85\% of Galveston Bay's seagrass meadows are gone

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our coastal waters are in trouble
Our coastal waters are in trouble:
  • 95% of San Francisco Bay's original wetlands have been destroyed
  • 85% of Galveston Bay's seagrass meadows are gone
  • More than 30% of Connecticut's coastal wetlands have been lost
  • 25 square miles of coastal Louisiana wetlands disappear each year
  • Oyster harvests in Chesapeake Bay plummeted from 25 million pounds to one million pounds in just 30 years.
  • The number of wild salmon returning to Maine's rivers has dropped 80% in the last ten years
National Coastal Condition Report

  • America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change

  • The US Ocean Commission on Ocean Policy
coastal states organization cso
Coastal States Organization (CSO)

35 coastal states, commonwealths and territories

  • on 35 coastal state management issues and technology/science needs

  • Washington, D.C. (2006-10-11) In a new report, the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science research has found a continuing decrease in toxic organic chemicals in mollusks, specifically mussels and oysters, collected at more than 250 sites nationwide. The findings, linked to bans and restrictions on the use of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), chlorinated hydrocarbons, tributyltin and cadmium, was announced in Vol. 62, no. 4 of Marine Environmental Research, a scientific journal.
  • Produced by the National Status & Trends Program's Mussel Watch Project, which began in 1986, the report updates findings last published in 1996. The results, based on data through 2003, show continued decreases in national median concentrations of the chemicals and no increases nationally. The Mussel Watch Project is the longest continuous contaminant monitoring program of U.S. coastal waters. It analyzes chemical and biological contaminant trends in sediment and the tissues of bivalves such as mollusks.
  • In reviewing data on 17 chemicals at 246 different sites, the NOAA scientists reported 108 increased concentrations and 830 decreased concentrations with a 95 percent level of confidence. Most of the decreases are among organic chemicals, with very few organic chemical increases. According to the report, the relatively few trends for concentrations of metals were evenly split between increases and decreases.
coastal pollutants
Coastal pollutants
  • Bacteria and viruses (pathogens)
  • Heavy metals, especially in organic compounds:
    • Arsenic
    • Cadmium
    • Cobalt
    • Copper
    • Lead
    • Mercury, especially methyl mercury
    • Manganese
    • Selenium
    • Zinc
    • Uranium
  • Industrial waste products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
  • Toxic organic compounds (herbicides, pesticides)
  • Nutrients (nitrates, phosphates),
  • Hot water discharge from power plants,
  • Alien species, such as the European Green Crab and the aquatic weed Carcinus maenas on the US west coast,
  • Trash (plastic -
  • Noise, especially noise that interferes with marine mammals and other animals communications and hearing.(National Academy of Sciences Report on Ocean Noise and Marine Mammals)
pesticides in costal waters
Pesticides in costal waters
  • Major problem today is much worse then 40 years ago when Ms. Rachel Carson wrote: “For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.”
  • released pesticides in the environment often go through processes of bioconcentration, biomagnification, and bioaccumulation;
  • leading to greater exposures and amplified effects on life in coastal ecosystems as well as on humans;
pesticides cont
Pesticides cont.
  • Naturally occurring pesticides have been used for centuries, while production and use of modern synthetic pesticides began in ’40s. Today a billion pounds of pesticides are used in the US at a value of 8 billion$/year;
  • EPA estimates that industry in the US annually generates 1,500 pounds of chemical waste for every man, woman and child;
  • Pesticides selectively destroy zooplankton communities and larval stages of corals. Insecticides accumulate in tissue and interfere with physiological processes.
  • most persistent bioacumulative toxics that were banned in US almost 20 years ago are still present in ecosystems, animals, humans (PCBs, DDT, chlordane, dioxins, etc);
  • pesticides are intentionally released into the environment to control plant and animal pests; and most of them are Persistent, Bioacumulative and Toxic (PBT); and some are produced inadvertently (e.g. dioxins);
  • Dioxin is many times more toxic! although not created intentionally, and has no industrial use, it is unavoidable by-product of manufacturing some pesticides (but mainly from paper industry);
  • Once released they may transform into other compounds of equal, greater or lesser toxicity; and become distributed by different pathways into surface, underground and coastal waters; mostly they are part of the non point source pollution, considered by EPA as the major cause of water quality issues in the US;
  • Even though Monsanto Corporation suspended production of PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) in 1977; there are 209 varieties of PCBs and more than 100 have been detected in the environment; they do not stand out as carcinogens, they are potent hormon copycats, causing impaired reproduction in fish, crustaceans, birds and mammals; reduce male fertility as well as neurotoxic, immunotoxic and respiratory effects;
Main sources are:
  • agriculture – NOAA estimated that over 29 million pounds of 35 commonly used pesticides are applied annually to agricultural lands in the coastal watersheds; these enter rivers and estuaries and sea, visa surface runoff and the atmosphere where they may contaminate or kill aquatic organisms as well as alter functions of habitats and ecosystems;
  • Timber cultivation and logging – forest related operations can produce pesticides and fertilizers, sediment and organic debris;
  • Urban and rural runoffs – residential areas are sources of lawn chemicals, plant debris and fertilizers; industrial facilities; storm drains;
Estuaries are the nursery for many fish and shellfish, and they are home for much wildlife.
  • 75% of commercially harvested fish and shell fish depend on estuaries and nearby coastal waters for some part of their life cycle.
  • The Chesapeake Bay supports more than 3,000 migratory and resident species of wildlife.
  • Puget Sound supports 220 species of fish, 100 species of shore and sea birds, and 26 species of marine mammals.
  • Galveston Bay supports more than 162 species of fish.
The International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides was agreed in 1985 by governments meeting at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Code sets standards for governments and industries in the regulation, marketing and use of pesticides, and invites NGOs to monitor its implementation.
  • Pesticides Action Network (PAN)
  • strong action against Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and the Stockholm Convention on POPs was signed in May 2001.
More on global issue examples:
  • Developing countries remain highly concerned about the scale of illegal trade in pesticides, and the need for an international body to tackle the issue. The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety, which will meet in Thailand in November 2003, has set up a group to consider this matter.
  • Aquaculture – Swedish herring with high PCBs and dioxins; malachite green (carcinogen) used in salmon aquaculture as fungicides; fresh farmed salmon worse cases occurrences of multiple pesticides residues
  • Also, most current issue – GMO - EPA approved the use of a corn variety created by Monsanto that produces its own insecticide to control corn rootworm, a widespread and destructive insect. The EPA said the new product, YieldGard Rootworm corn, will provide corn growers with a safe, non-chemical pest control alternative that can reduce reliance on traditional insecticides. The new corn, produces its own insecticide within the plant derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring soil bacterium.
yes there are solutions
YES, there are Solutions!
  • ‘Green alternatives’ - Alternatives to herbicides, insecticides and fungicides are plentiful. Farmers and gardeners alike have employed these treatments for hundreds of years, if not millennia.
  • We should always ask: What would nature do?,

Sources of green info: Biomimicry – Janine Benyus; Economy of Nature by Daily and Ellison;
  • After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: What works. What is appropriate. And What lasts.
  • One Good example - tree from India, has at least nine neem limonoids, have demonstrated an ability to block insect growth, affecting a range of species that includes some of the most deadly pests of agriculture and human health. New limonoids are still being discovered in neem, but azadirachtin, salannin, meliantriol, and nimbin are the best known and, for now at least, seem to be the most significant.
  • …or learn from ants, termites, and their ‘gardens’ for food and medicines…
Concepts such as "good insects eating bad insects", companion planting, proper soil management and the most fundamental of all, bio-diversity, are drawn from the master gardener, "Mother Nature"! Nature supplies its own defenses for survival, if only we would pay closer attention to discover them.
  • There are 500 farms in the Organic Valley Family of Farms and Livestock Committee, which is the largest in the world; they recently called on Congress to pass the Leahy-Snowe "Organic Restoration Act.“
  • Certified products can be identified by the Food Alliance eco-label. In order to be certified, farms and ranches must meet strict criteria for pesticide reduction, soil and water conservation, wildlife habitat protection, safe and fair working conditions, and the humane treatment of animals.
  • Food Alliance is the fastest growing eco-label in the United States, with more than 175 growers of 42 crops certified in 12 states.
  • Farm runoff controls are not only possible, but have been demonstrated by farmers to have positive economic effects. One success is the Barrett Farm, in Pennsylvania near Chesapeake Bay, where both water quality and profitability have been improved through use of enlightened methods. The Barrett Farm is small, with a dairy comprising fewer than 100 cows, but it serves as an example for larger scale operations.
suggested readings
Suggested readings
  • Mercury Science Findings in People of the State of California vs. Tri-Union Seafoods (6.2 MByte PDF file)
  • Imaging radar for detection of coastal pollution


US Coastal Zone Management Act









Mapping Begins & Continues



  • Seafloor Mapping of Stellwagen Bank & Massachusetts Bay
  • completed by scientists at USGS, Woods Hole

“Science talks about very simple things, and asks hard questions about

them. As soon as things become too complex, science can’t deal with

them. The reason why physics can achieve such depth is that it restricts

itself to extremely simple things, abstracted from the complexity of the

world. As soon as an atom gets too complicated, maybe helium, they

hand it over to chemists. When problems become too complicated for

chemists, they hand it over to biologists. Biologists often hand it over to

the sociologists, and they hand it over to the historians, and so on.

But it’s a complicated matter: Science studies what’s at the edge of

understanding, and what’s at the edge of understanding is usually fairly

simple. And it rarely reaches human affairs. Human affairs are way too

complicated. In fact even understanding insects is an extremely

complicated problem in the sciences. So the actual sciences tell us

virtually nothing about human affairs.” N.CHOMSKY