The Economic Impact of Dead Zones
By: Eric Rogowski
Dead zones are areas of ocean near the mouth of a river that are affected by high amounts of pollutants and algae. It is nearly impossible for fish and other aquatic life to survive in these dead zones. The pollutants come from farms, sewage treatment plants, industry, and other polluters further up the river, then flow down the river to the mouth. The pollutants give the perfect environment for algae to grow. The algae will then multiply indefinitely, die, then the dead algae bodies will fall to the bottom of the ocean. The decomposition of all the algae will consume all the oxygen in the water, making the area uninhabitable or a dead zone. This can spell disaster for not only the fish and environment, but also fishing, tourism, and local communities.
In the gulf of mexico alone, over $82 billion dollars are spent yearly dealing with dead zones. This is to contain and help wildlife and local industry. Nearly forty percent of all seafood comes in the U.S. comes from the gulf of mexico. The dead zones are threatening fisherman farther out into the waters, while driving fish prices up higher. Shrimp prices in 2014, a year with the dead zones being larger than normal, were $17 per a pound. That’s up from $10 only a year earlier. Also, the tourism industry, which support 600,000 jobs and is estimated to be worth $9 billion annually is threatened by dead fish and algae washing up on the beaches. Bills have been put forth for the U.S. government to take greater action, however none have passed through.
Shrimp prices in the last 20 years
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