By the year 2000, about one in four Canadians and three in four Americans will live near a coastal area. This will have a profound impact on the quality of North America's marine environments.
North America has an extremely long coastline, with Canada having a
longer coastline than any other nation in the world.
A variety of problems have affected marine environments in North America. One problem is pollution, which has been especially intense in this region of the world because of its high level of development. However, unlike many other areas, the general prosperity of North America has enabled the region to clean much of the waste it dumps into coastal environments.
Tourism has prompted a heavy increase in coastal construction in
the region, as it has in many other areas of the world. Developments near the coast have in turn led to habitat destruction, and have killed off many species inhabiting marine environments.
Another major problem is an excessive level of fishing. Both Canada and the United States have long had large fishing industries.
Other problems have made fishing difficult for the area's fishing industry. From 1980 to 1989, over 3,650 major
disasters wiped out fish populations in the United States. A total of at least 407 million fish were killed.
Pollution problems and acid rain have also affected marine environments. Today, 49 species of fishes are endangered in Canada, and many could become extinct if the current problems persist.