PEOPLE AND THEIR OCEAN PLANET

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Sea fever consists of two components: one individual, a manifestation of a deeply rooted bond with the sea; the other collective, caused by society’s increasing reliance on the sea. While individual sea fever is mostly symbolic, its collective counterpart is all too real: the ocean is warming and is no longer healthy. Though it does not intend to preach, Sea Fever argues there is a need to apply our individual feelings of respect and wonder to the way we collectively treat the ocean.

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SeaFever examines various ocean uses and resources, and how they are managed or, in some instances, mismanaged.
The book emphasizes the need to use the oceans in a sustainable manner, to keep the ocean healthy for future generations.

The book consists of six chapters: Origins, Health, Harvest, Wealth, Knowledge and Pollution.

The digital edition of Sea Fever was made possible through the generous support of the Gallifrey Foundation. Please press the DOWNLOAD button to obtain your free copy.

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Origins

Before there was anything, there was water, or a watery chaos, from which everything was created. That assumption, almost universally recorded in creation legends, is the very first indication of people being aware of the significance of the sea to their lives. The innate realization that water is essential to life, that this planet could never have developed and sustained life without the ocean that covers more than seven tenths of it. That realization is an essential part of the relationship between people and their ocean planet. And as it entails awe, affection, understanding and above all respect, it is key to restoring that relationship.

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Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

William Wordsworth Immortality Ode
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Health

Several myths and legends accord the sea healing powers because it cleans and refreshes both body and spirit. Today, science is confirming those powers. Marine plants and animals can provide us with substances like drugs to help cure or alleviate disorders. In addition, the sea is a rich source of medical models, needed to understand how life processes function or malfunction. Finally, the sea also offers a healthy source of sustenance, with seafood providing high-quality proteins and fish containing fats that lower the incidence of heart disease. But for us to benefit from that offering we have to start managing the sea’s living resources far better than we have to this day.

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Do you see the sea, breaking itself to bits against
the islands
yet remaining unbroken, the level great sea?

D.H. Lawrence Mana of the Sea
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Harvest

Thousands of years after people started to fish, they are still doing so as hunters. Until about a hundred years ago the sea supplied our needs but then populations exploded, the demand for fish increased, preservation methods improved, and both ships and gear became more powerful and efficient. At first fish catches grew, then they started to fall. What seemed an inexhaustible source of food has been depleted in the course of a single generation. We still expect the sea to play an important role in providing food to a growing world population, but if this is to be the case, important changes need to be made in the way we treat the sea’s living resources.

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Rich are the sea-gods:—who gives gifts but they?
They grope the sea for pearls, but more than pearls:
They pluck Force thence, and give it to the wise.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Setting Sail
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Wealth

Estimates of the sea’s mineral resources have grown considerably in recent years, with figures ranging from billions and even trillions of tons. In spite of their magnitude, many of the sea’s minerals are currently not economically recoverable because of the technological challenges involved in mining the sea, and especially the deep sea. At the same time, there is little doubt that if and when needed, these supplies can and will be tapped. We can only hope that this will happen without repeating the mistakes that were made on land. For that to happen it is essential that the legal regime of the sea not only determines who owns their wealth, but also imposes a fair cost for any environmental damage.

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I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if it’s music or awareness,
nor if it’s a single wave or its vast depth,
or a hoarse voice or a shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.

Pablo Neruda The Sea
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Knowledge

It was at sea that people first looked for clues to foretell what the weather had in store, and it was there that they figured out that this required searching for signs in both sea and sky, and then deducing their significance. Today understanding how ocean and atmosphere interact is more important than ever. Not only does it help us predict tomorrow’s weather, it can also help foretell climatic anomalies like El Niño months ahead of their onset. It may not yet tell us to what extent global warming will affect temperatures years from now, but it will help us track the extreme weather that seems to be occurring more frequently as a result of it.

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The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea

Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
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Pollution

From earliest times, water bodies have been used to discard waste. Initially this created few problems because water has the capability to break down natural waste products, but from the past century onward we began to add not only increasing amounts of natural waste, but also synthetic materials, which water could no longer break down. At first streams, rivers and lakes were affected but it didn’t take long for the sea to become threatened as well. And that not only affects the sea and life in it, but all of us. Restoring its health will take a level of political courage, cooperation and ingenuity we have seldom demonstrated in our relationship with the sea.