WORLD OCEANs DAY

Every year on June 8th, we celebrate World Oceans Day, reminding people of their beauty and the unique characteristics they possess!

But World Oceans Day is not the only day to appreciate our oceans, oceans need our love and care for as long as possible. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. They are a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere.

Over the years, humans have neglected the oceans and our activities have caused serious damages to the oceans and the marine life it holds. Pollution is one of the biggest problems that the oceans face today. Various types of pollution like Oil Spills, Plastic Pollution, dumping of waste/chemicals, etc. have led to a widespread damage to the marine habitats and ecosystems in the oceans.

Plastic pollution is the most grievous problem that the ocean faces today, with more than 8 million tons of plastic waste being dumped each year! Marine life such as sea turtles, fishes, and other living organisms, ingest these plastic particles and eventually die. Almost every species of sea turtle is endangered today.

Plastic pollution is causing tremendous harm to our marine resources. For example:

        • Plastic pollution is causing tremendous harm to our marine resources. For example:
        • 80% of all pollution in the ocean comes from people on land.
        • 8 million tonnes of plastic per year ends up in the ocean, wreaking havoc on wildlife, fisheries, and tourism.
        • Plastic pollution costs the lives of 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals per year.
        • Fish eat plastic, and we eat the fish.
        • Plastic causes $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems each year.

Oceans help mitigate climate change by dissolving carbon dioxide produced by human activities. However, by absorbing more carbon dioxide, oceans are becoming more acidic and less hospitable to sea life. Plastic particles and waste have been found in some of the deepest oceanic beds!

It takes about 1,000 years for a single plastic bag to degrade completely, imagine the amount of time it would require to degrade all of that plastic waste that is collected beneath the oceans. The use of plastics for consumer products has become increasingly dominant, and production has steadily increased since the material was first put into wide use a half-century ago. Our extensive dependency on plastic, demands more and more production of plastic materials which eventually lands up into landfills or into the oceans.

Recent efforts by passionate individuals have led to global campaigns to deal with oceanic plastic pollution. One such campaign is The Ocean Cleanup Project. It was founded by the Dutch inventor Boyan Slot at the age of 18. The projects aims are to cleanup ocean plastics by using advanced technologies. While such efforts are to be lauded, it is also necessary that we do our part to keep plastic items from entering the oceans and this can be done by simply refusing disposable plastic items.

The average lifespan of a plastic item is less than 20 minutes in our daily life activities, after which the plastic is eventually thrown away. Rather than using non-recyclable plastic items, we should promote the use of bio-degradable items such as cloth bags instead of plastic bags which can easily be recycled, recyclable cups, using a metal straw instead of a plastic one, etc.

By doing so, we can minimize our plastic waste and save the oceans! More than half of the world’s oceanic depths have not been explored yet! The half that we have discovered has been violated and damaged. It is therefore necessary that we realize the importance of the oceans and respect it.

If you would like to be a part of the global campaign to save our oceans, take a look at the United Nations Environment Programme's Clean Seas Campaign. It was launched to engage governments, civil society and private sector to fight against marine plastic litter. As members of the Don Bosco Green Alliance, we too can be part of these global campaigns and take action in our neighbourhood about tackling marine plastic pollution. Each individual effort at the local scale will add up globally to protect our oceans and ensure a sustainable and safe future.