The oceans and seas are home to unlimited resources like hydrocarbons, minerals and fish, but their exploitation remains a challenge. Discuss.

The oceans and seas are home to unlimited resources like hydrocarbons, minerals and fish, but their exploitation remains a challenge. Discuss.
Approach:
  • Introduce with oceans and marine resource availability
  • Discuss resources under categories like Physical, Biological, Renewable energy etc.
  • Briefly highlight the challenges in exploiting them
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
Oceans and seas are the bodies of salt water that cover about 71% of the Earth’s surface and these contain roughly 97 percent of the Earth’s water supply. Oceans like Pacific, Atlantic etc. are home to a diverse web of life. And these oceans and seas are home to variety of resources like physical, biological and energy resources:
Physical Resources:
  • Manganese nodules- These are rock concretions on the sea bottom formed of concentric layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core.
  • Salts- Commercial salt is produced from the evaporation of seawater, rather than by being extracted from sedimentary deposits.
  • Sand and Gravel- Oceans are the major source of sand and gravel. Mining of these resources is done by dredging of shallow areas.
Energy Resources:
  • Oil and gas- It represents the most lucrative mineral resource extracted from the marine environment. Known oil and gas reserves on the continental shelves are estimated at 30 percent. Oil is now being extracted at depths of more than 2900 metres below the surface of the sea while gas production is currently around 2700 metres below the surface of sea.
Renewable energy:
  • Renewable energy can be extracted from ocean waves, tides, salinity, and ocean temperature differences.
Biological Resources:
  • Marine plants and animals provide 4 percent of the human protein needs. The dominant marine food sources of protein are fish, crustaceans, molluscs etc. Nearly 85 percent of the shell/finfish is obtained from the marine sources.
Various challenges in the exploitation of marine resources are:
  • High Cost: Production cost including mining and transport is high for minerals like manganese. The economical viable metallic resources are few.
  • Environmental concerns: There are high chances of leakage of oil and gas while extraction which can pollute the water and affect marine organisms.
  • Inadequate technology: Technology is inadequate for mining the metals like iron,copper,lead etc. from the metallic sulfide muds.
  • Ownership issues: Another challenge is ownership issue as certain areas of oceans and seas are disputed one.
Although marine resources are important for economic growth, we must ensure that their usage, especially of marine biological resources, is sustainable. The need for international cooperation towards this end is recognized by its inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goal – SDG 14 makes it a goal to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.

Subjects : Geography

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