Ocean ‘dead zones’, another reason to champion organic farming

If you aren't already convinced by the arguments for organic farming then the news of ocean 'dead zones' is pretty persuasive…

The International Herald Tribune reports that nitrogen-rich run-off from crop fertilisers is the main culprit in an expanding number of marine dead zones. The number of zones has doubled every decade since the 1960s:

About 400 coastal areas now have periodically or perpetually oxygen-starved bottom waters, many of them growing in size and intensity […] While the size of dead zones is small relative to the total surface of the oceans, scientists say they account for a significant part of ocean waters that support commercial fish and shellfish species.

The article goes on:

Many dead zones are cyclical, recurring each year in the summer months. But over time, they can permanently kill off entire species within the zone. They have also prevented the rebounding of species that are under protection after overfishing, like the Baltic Sea's cod […]

Once dead zones recur, “they are very hard to reverse,” said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, adding that “they have major consequences for the ability of fish populations to renew themselves.”

Organic agriculture can provide excellent yields is better for the health of farmers, consumers and the wider environment… as well as the oceans. We need to stop looking at issues in isolation – artificial fertilisers stay in our ecosystem and have lasting effects. The good news is that organic alternatives are viable, but they taste better too!