Interviewer: Why should people care about marine ecosystems?
JEREMY: The ocean is really important to people in lots of ways, many of which they may not be aware. The most obvious thing is the food we get from the ocean. The shrimp and the table fish are a very important part of our diet in the United States and in Europe, but an even greater part of the diet of people living in developing countries especially in the tropics where it really plays a major part.
Every time we have a hurricane and we see the destruction of the coastal zone and we see flooding because forests have been cut down, because salt marshes have been destroyed or mangrove forests have been lost and the level of destruction is so much greater because those natural barriers have disappeared. The recent hurricane in New Orleans and the destruction of New Orleans- a great deal of the destruction - the magnitude of what happened there is due to the fact that the lands have been drained of the natural swamp lands that surround the city and provided a kind of protection. Then there are much bigger, larger scale things that are harder to understand about how the ocean helps to regulate the climate and just everything about the world we live in, in terms of its comfort.
The ocean is remarkably important for recreation. We’re getting to the point where something like half of humanity lives within a hundred miles of the ocean. Regardless of people’s economic well being, the ocean attracts people. It’s a zone of recreation which holds enormous importance to people. Going to the beach for people who live in a urban area provides an opportunity to escape for a day and go to a place where you can see beyond across the street and be in the water. All of these things are parts of what the ocean really means to us.