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Ocean health worse than thought

Study suggests life on verge of 'mass extinction event'

OXFORD, England (UPI) | June 22, 2011

"The findings are shocking"

—Alex Rogers

he world's oceans are in worse condition than previously thought, an international scientific panel led by British researchers says.

The International Program on the State of the Ocean panel warns that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history."

Factors such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are coming together and affecting global oceans in ways that have not previously been recognized, the panel's report said.

"The findings are shocking," Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University, told the BBC.

"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized."

Life on Earth has gone through "mass extinction events" in the past, and scientists warn humanity's combined impact may be causing a sixth such event.

"What we're seeing at the moment is unprecedented in the fossil record -- the environmental changes are much more rapid," Rogers said.

The will be presented at United Nations headquarters in New York this week as government delegates begin discussions on reforming governance of the oceans, the BBC reported.

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