Some North Atlantic pollution falls, new threats loom

Efforts to clean up and protect the North East Atlantic have made some progress since 2000 but new threats are looming such as ocean acidification linked to climate change, a study said on Thursday.

The report, by the OSPAR Commission that groups 15 European nations and covers an area from the North Pole to the Azores, said there had been advances in reducing oil spills, discharges from nuclear installations and some hazardous wastes.

But many goals set in 2000 such as stopping a loss of biological diversity and over-fishing had not been met, according to the report, presented to environment ministers from the 15 nations in Bergen, Norway.

“There are clear signs of improvement in the North-East Atlantic but the loss of biodiversity has not yet been halted, with fishing and other human activities needing careful management,” it said.

“Ocean acidification and the emerging impacts of climate change cause serious concern,” it added. Acidification undermines the ability of creatures such as shellfish, crabs or lobsters to build their protective shells.

“There are likely to be ecosystem-wide effects (from acidification) by 2050, perhaps even in the coming decade in the Arctic,” it said. The U.N. panel of climate scientists blames acidification on carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, absorbed into the sea from the atmosphere.

Alister Doyle, (Editing by Mark Trevelyan), Reuters, 23 September 2010. Full article.

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