United Nations Programme Focuses on the Effects, Implications and Mitigation of Oxygen Depletion
April 30, 2012
The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), a United Nations Development Programme, held a mini-symposium for its members and the public in New York City on April 18 on “Ocean Hypoxia and Its Impacts on Ecosystems and Economics.” While the topic coverage was global in scale, the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia area (bottom waters low in dissolved oxygen) was the focus of two presentations and mentioned in all others.
Rudolph Wu, member of GESAMP, Hong Kong University, Hypoxia: Problems and scientific challenges
Peter Thomas, University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Disruption of fish reproduction in hypoxic coastal waters: potential impacts on coastal fisheries world-wide
Robert Howarth, Cornell University, Nutrient Pollution of Coastal Waters: Trends, Drivers, and Potential Solutions
Nancy N. Rabalais, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Ocean deoxygenation and coastal hypoxia in a changing world
Andrew Hudson, UNDP Water and Ocean Governance Programme, Reversing ocean hypoxia through application and scaling up of innovative policy, economic and financial tools
The consequences of low dissolved oxygen concentrations on hormone disruption and reproductive failure of demersal fishes exposed to hypoxia was a particular focus of the symposium. Peter Thomas, who works in the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone,” reported that gonadal growth and gamete production were impaired in Atlantic croakers from hypoxic sites off Louisiana compared with fish from reference sites east of the Mississippi River Delta. GESAMP will conduct a follow up assessment of similar cases globally.