Environmental Ethic

Human interactions with marine animals have existed for millennia with minimal impacts on population structure and environmental degradation. However, in the past 100 years or so our interactions with the marine environment and its inhabitants have had profound impacts. Over harvesting of fish stocks, dumping of toxic wastesinto the ocean, noise pollution, and development of coastal landscapes are just a few of the many assaults our species have inflicted uponthe marine environment. This semester we will explore two controversial marine fisheriesthat have had recent media attention, the global tuna and dolphin fisheries. Tuna have long been fished by humans and are eaten by many cultures. Dolphins on the other hand are not generally treated as food by most cultures, but are still killed by the millions annually by people who do not eat them. Why do many people think it is okay to eat tuna, but not dolphin? What impacts do these harvests have on global tuna and dolphin populations? What species are targeted specifically in these fisheries, and are they safe to eat? We will watch two movies, The Cove andSuperfish Bluefin Tunaand read two essays, Who Swims with the Tuna, by David Quammen and Tuna: One Last Biteby Paul Greenburg, to gain better insight into these questions.Your assignment will be to carefully prepare an evaluation of the impacts that humans are having on these fisheries (tuna and dolphin) throughout the world. That is, what does it mean to eat tuna and dolphin? You may use other references, but you will need to specifically address those mentioned above. Thoughtfully synthesize your thoughts into athree to five page essay. In your essay you should develop your environmental conservationethic.That is, what do tuna and dolphins mean to you? What do you believe are the main issues at stake here, if any? Are we at risk of losing species diversity? Can we continue to globally exploit these resources? E.O. Wilson, a contemporary ecologist, describes an ethicas such: β€œA conservation ethic is that which aims to pass on to future generations the best part of the nonhuman world. To know this world is to gain a proprietary attachment to it. To know it well is to loveand take responsibility for it” (The Future of Life, 2002).

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