Updated: Jun 8
✦ “Surely we all have a responsibility to care for our Blue Planet. The future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us.” Sir David Attenborough
The world’s oceans collectively cover over 70% of our planet, providing invaluable sustenance to humanity and every other organism on earth. With at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen produced by her oceans, it is more than fair to refer to them as the planet’s lungs. The oceans also absorb around 30% of human-produced carbon dioxide, which can reduce the detrimental impact of global warming. The ocean is one of the primary sources of protein for over a billion people around the world and it is estimated that over 40 million people will be employed by ocean-related industries by 2030.
However, as often seems human want, we are moving precariously closer to serious trouble as we take more than we need. Widespread fishing and illegal exploitation for years has seen populations of fish, in particular big fish, decrease considerably. Mass tourism has resulted in coral reefs being damaged beyond compare and irresponsible attitudes and policies on waste management have seen levels of human-manufactured rubbish and pollution in our oceans, sadly, hit an time time high.
As the old saying goes, you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone and that is certainly something pertinent when it comes to our blue planet.
Initiated in 1992 by Canada’s International Centre for Ocean Development, World Ocean Day has been celebrated globally on June 8 ever since. The annual occasion supports the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals by engaging public interest in the protection of the ocean and the sustainable management of its resources. This year the theme was “Revitalization: collective action for the ocean”. Hosted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the event was broadcast live all around the world and saw a collective of thought-leaders, celebrities, institutional partners, community voices, entrepreneurs, and cross-industry experts share their opinions and expertise on the biodiversity and economic opportunity that the ocean sustains.
Each year the day is very much interactive where people can get involved in a variety of ways. There is a petition campaigning for 30% of our planet’s lands, waters, and ocean to be protected by 2030 that will be presented to world leaders and policy makers which everyone can sign.
Coral reefs have an estimated global value of £6 trillion each year, due in part to their contribution to fishing and tourism industries and the coastal protection they provide. (source: National History Museum)
Similarly people are able to stage their own conservation-related events, online and in person, which help raise awareness and drive support to the initiative, financial or otherwise. This variety of events often take place before and beyond the specified date on June 8 all around the world and could be in the form of performance, art, music, film, lectures and readings, educational activities or cleanup drives; all events can be posted on the World Ocean Day website and shared globally.
Likewise there is a Youth Initiative engaging the younger generation which offers a range of educational projects. Driven by the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, made up of selected members from a variety of different countries, it unites youths from all around the world via the message of protecting and conserving our blue planet and ensuring our future generations work towards a more sustainable tomorrow.
Elsewhere, the United Nation’s website carries some truly fascinating and encouraging stories about efforts being made all around the world to ensure the future health of our oceans, which are very much worth the time to check out. These include The Sea Women of Melanesia, Coral Reef Survivial in Fiji, and the Sustainable Harvesting of Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. And don’t forget our own brilliant interview with The Fin Arts from Phuket, Thailand who are using unique, beautifully-crafted art to raise awareness around ocean conservation, specifically the importance of sharks to the ocean eco-system and why it is so crucial to protect them.