The month of June is World Ocean Month and today (June 8th) we are celebrating World Ocean Day.
The purpose is to raise awareness of the declining health of our Ocean and foster the public understanding and interest in the protection of the ocean and the sustainable management of its resources.
Why should you care about the Ocean?
- The ocean covers over 70% of our blue planet and harbours most of Earth’s biodiversity.
- It is our life source and supports humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on Earth
“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live”– Dr. Sylvia Earle
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”– Dr. Sylvia Earle
As the “blue lungs” of our planet, our oceans are estimated to produce 50-80% of the Earth’s oxygen. The majority of this oxygen is produced by oceanic plankton – drifting plants, algae, and certain bacteria that are able to photosynthesize.
Seafood is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 people rely on fish as a source of essential micronutrients (e.g. zinc, vitamin A and fatty acids).
Mitigates Climate Change
Seagrasses, salt marshes, and mangroves, as well as their associated food webs, can sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at rates up to four times higher than terrestrial forests can. Large marine predators, including large fish species such as tuna fish, sequester carbon when they die and sink.
From small scale fishermen to the tourism industry, the ocean provides a variety of jobs and livelihoods for a huge amount of people. The ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
The main mode of transport for the global trade is over the waves: an overwhelming 80% of traded goods are transported by ship. This means that the global economy heavily relies on the ocean for transportation.
Surprisingly so, science shows that being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.
The Biggest Threats our Ocean is Facing
- Climate Change: rising temperatures cause sea levels to rise; increasing acidity in ocean impacts the calcification process of shell-building animals (e.g. oysters and corals).
- Pollution: pesticides and fertilizers are creating oxygen depleted “dead zones” in the ocean, which kill marine plants and shellfish; oil spills and plastics pollute our oceans and kill wildlife at an unprecedented rate.
- Overexploitation and Fishing: it is estimated that 31.4 % of fish stocks are either fished to capacity or overfished.
- Invasive Species: species not native to an area are spreading through ship traffic, tourism, and the pet trade and disrupt ecological balances in ecosystems.
The Ocean Decade – “The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want”
The United Nations has proclaimed the decade 2021-2030 to be The Ocean Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which is meant to support the development of scientific research and innovative technology that will reverse the decline in ocean health. The Ocean Decade will gather stakeholders worldwide behind a common goal – the sustainable development of our Ocean for the benefit of all humanity.
It will tackle several key challenges:
- Understand and beat marine pollution
- Protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity
- Sustainably feed the global population
- Develop a sustainable and equitable ocean economy
- Unlock ocean-based solutions to climate change
- Increase community resilience to ocean hazards
- Deliver data, knowledge, and technology to all
- Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean
Bringing It All Together
With our ocean severely overfished, sea levels and acidity rising, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished. To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity interacts with it.
We must build a connection with and reverence for our ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past.
What can you do to help?
- Reduce your Carbon Footprint
- Eat Less Seafood and Choose Sustainably Harvested Seafood Only
- Reduce your Use of Plastic Products
- Support Organic Farming
- Do Beach Cleanups
- Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
- Influence Change in your Community and in your Country
- Educate yourself about the Ocean and its Inhabitants