(National Geographic) – The world’s oceans generate more than half the oxygen we breathe and half the food we eat. Plus, they regulate our weather and climate. Yet they are perhaps the planet’s most vulnerable ecosystem.  By Laura Parker

“You see this massive body of water with its power, its waves, and its depth, and you just say, ‘Man, nothing could touch that.’ But we’re wrong. It’s fragile,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with National Geographic.

Overfishing has depleted 90 percent of large fish, such as tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut, skates, and flounder. Agricultural runoff and sewage have polluted coastal waters with nitrogen, phosphorous, and other algae-feeding nutrients, creating more than 500 large dead zones globally. Warming ocean water is 26 percent more acidic than before the industrial revolution, killing coral reefs and shellfish.

Meanwhile, eight million tons of plastic trash flows into the oceans every year—an amount that doubles every decade. This debris entangles and kills seals and whales, has been ingested by 90 percent of seabirds, and has spread into every continental nook and cranny, including Arctic ice.

Kerry, who grew up in Massachusetts, wants to keep the world’s focus on these perils. This week, he is hosting the third annual Our Oceans Conference in Washington, D.C., where scientists, activists, fishermen, and diplomats from around the world have gathered to consider how to make fishing more sustainable and clean up pollutants.

He has prodded 45 nations into signing onto a global network to monitor and combat illegal fishing, and worked to assure that the conference, which will convene in Malta next year, keeps ocean health at the forefront of international talks. Participants in the first two conferences committed more than four billion dollars to conservation programs and promised to set aside almost 2.3 million square miles of ocean for protection. Kerry says he expects another $1.8 billion in pledges to be made this year.

Please see the full article and interview HERE