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World Oceans Day 2014

Celebrated annually on 8 June, World Oceans Day (WOD) is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges that the international community faces in connection with oceans.

Image courtesy of Madagascar Marine Conservation and Diving project

The importance of our oceans cannot be underestimated. The big blue is for all intents and purposes the lungs of our planet. It provides the majority of the oxygen that we need to exist and are also a key source of food, medicines and an integral part of the biosphere. Despite the multiple challenges ahead, we can succeed in protecting our oceans by combining efforts that combat key issues, such as over-fishing and the dumping of waste. By taking collective action, we can achieve a healthy ocean that provides for our planet’s entire population of human, plants and animals that depend on it every day.

Proposed in 1992 as a way to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea, as well as to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help to protect it, WOD is the sail that we need to catch a draft towards protecting our oceans. And the two-year theme emphasises the reality of what is needed by us: “Together we have the power to protect the ocean!”

The situation is in dire need of saving also, as the impact that humans have had on our Earth has been detrimental. Our oceans are seeing a massive change, for the worse, because we are not taking care of it. With ocean currents altering, a warming in overall temperatures, the rising sea level and a decline in marine life, we have put our planet’s future into uncertainty; and its importance on our future existence cannot be belittled – after all, our planet is known as the blue planet, but for how much longer?

On our clock, we all must share the blame in this, as time and time again we have ignored warning signs and passively watched the systematic destruction of our oceans blue building blocks.

What can we do?

Image courtesy of Tanzania Marine Conservation & Diving project

On the 2011 edition of WOD, UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova stated that “the challenge today is to use marine science to understand and protect oceans, in order to better manage their ecosystems and biodiversity for present and future generations.” There are many opportunities to contribute towards this with marine conservation work that is carried out throughout the world where you undertake to find out about marine biodiversity and record vital research into the health of reefs and species populations that then go into informing environmental policy – with the eventual aim of protecting marine biodiversity and thus the ocean.

However, there are other ways that you can contribute, which include heading down to your local beach and partaking in a beach cleanup, along with informing your local authorities in the implementation of sustainable coastal management systems. Even conserving water and being more environmentally conscious goes a long way to making a significant difference.

What is being done?

Image courtesy of Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving project

Greater protection of oceans is of major importance and there have been strides made in the last few years to improve protection of certain areas of our ocean. Although, the amount of protection has improved slightly, much more work can be done by the world’s governments to protect a larger percentage of our oceans from fishing, dumped sewage and better governance of coastal communities and their use of marine ecosystems.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration recognised the important contribution of sustainable development and management of the resources and uses of the oceans and seas. So, the resolution calls upon user States and States bordering seas to prevent, reduce and control pollution caused by ships.

So, where work is being done to protect our oceans, only with a full and committed approach and wilful acts can lasting change be made. Therefore, raise awareness and together we can make a difference. To find out about events that are taking place around the world for WOD, you can check what is being done in your area here and join in.

By Manny Mahoon

If you are interested in making a difference to the environment, Frontier operates dedicated marine conservation projects worldwide that you can join from 2 weeks to 1 year and make your travel meaningful!  

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