Ocean Media Initiative

The ocean is one of the most dynamic and at the same time most under-reported food systems on the planet. About a billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and, collectively, the nations of the world catch around 90 million metric tons of wild fish and shellfish from the oceans annually.  This is equivalent to the weight of the human population of China removed from the sea each and every year.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) produces a highly useful report every two years called The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (abbreviated as SOFIA) that identifies trends in the seafood industry.  These and other sources note that in the last 60 years the global wild catch has risen approximately 400 percent

The ocean is also chemically changing in dramatic ways in response to human influences on the environment.  Sea water is becoming progressively more acidic due to the influence of industrially generated carbon in the atmosphere.  The ocean today is also subject to severe influxes of nitrogen- and phosphorous-based nutrients that industrial agriculture and wastewater treatment facilities are introducing into the marine environment.  The resulting oxygen-depleting algal blooms that come about because of all these added nutrients (a phenomenon called "eutrophication") has resulted in more than 400 large "dead zones" around the world – areas where water is so oxygen-poor that fisheries are threatened.  In all, some 245,000 square kilometers of ocean are affected with some of the largest hypoxic areas being in the East China Sea offshore from the Yangtze River, on the US side of the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and in the Baltic Sea off Scandinavia and Russia.  

There are many dangers confronting the ocean at the dawn of the 21st century.  Beyond the problems mentioned above other issues like plastic debris, toxic algal blooms, acoustic pollution, and many others – are all becoming more severe with the passage of time.  At the same time, one striking fact must be kept in mind.  In spite of all these degradations, in spite of all of the abuse humankind has thrown at the ocean, the ocean is still alive -- alive enough to produce more than 80 million metric tons of seafood each and every year.  It is this statistic that the reporter covering the ocean must keep in mind with every interview conducted and with every site visited.  We were born into this world with a living, nourishing ocean at our disposal.  It is our responsibility going forward that our children have the benefit of such wealth in the future.  

Download our newest report, Indonesia Marine and Fisheries Media Mapping Study, which provides quantitative and qualitative analysis of coverage of ocean and fisheries issues by Indonesian media outlets.

Program Team