Scientists predict that, by 2050, 86% of the world’s ocean will be warmer and more acidic than anything in modern history
Today marks World Oceans Day, an annual day dedicated to celebrating our oceans. If you're taking steps to living more sustainably, trying your hardest to go plastic free or you're dedicated to recycling, we want to make sure you're also doing your bit for our seas.
Wondering why you need to act now? We're facing the worst climate crisis ever and it's having a huge impact on the health of our oceans, according to Raffi Schieir, director of Bantam Materials, who supply Prevent Ocean Plastic.
"The oceans act as the planet’s lungs, generating most of the oxygen we breathe, and they also absorb our carbon dioxide. Increased carbon dioxide in our atmosphere means that we have also seen an increase in the amount of CO2 in our oceans. This results in ocean acidification – warmer, more acidic water – damaging coral reefs and making it harder for fish to live," he explains.
In short, if we don’t cut down on carbon emissions, scientists predict that, by 2050, 86% of the world’s ocean will be warmer and more acidic than anything in modern history, which could have a catastrophic impact on marine life.
And that's not all - plastic pollution is also choking our oceans, according to the expert. "Every year between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, and plastic debris has even been found in Arctic sea ice," says Schieir. "Ocean plastic is bad not only for humans, but for marine mammals, seabirds and coral reefs, too."
Thankfully, he maintains that there is hope if we act now. Keep reading for Schieir's top tips to save the ocean - every little really does help.
So, what is World Oceans Day?
UN World Oceans Day is an annual day to celebrate the ocean, according to Schieir. "Oceans cover 70% of the planet and UN World Oceans Day aims to help everyone, across the world, recognise and understand the important role they have in our lives," he explains.
Here are some fun sea facts for you. Our oceans:
- Produce 50% of the world’s oxygen
- Boast amazing biodiversity and ecosystems
- Provide employment for the millions of people around the world who are working in ocean-related industries.
Secondly, World Oceans Day reminds us of the crucial role we all play in protecting our oceans.
"Fish populations are depleting at an alarming rate, coral reefs are being destroyed and our waterways are becoming clogged with plastic. The day aims to motivate us to act for our oceans, using marine resources in a sustainable way and preventing pollution from reaching the oceans," he shares.
Why does it happen every year and when did it start?
The United Nations (UN) first declared 8 June as Oceans Day in 1992, at the Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro, shares Schieir.
"In 2008, the UN General Assembly followed this up by resolving that 8 June would be officially designated by the United Nations as ‘World Oceans Day'," explains the pro.
As you likely guessed, since then, World Oceans Day has been marked annually, with a different theme celebrated each year. This year, the UN is campaigning for all world leaders to commit to the '30x30' agreement. This initiative is pushing for 30% of the world's lands, waters, and ocean to be protected by 2030 - this will help to stabilise the climate and reintroduce healthy marine life. At the moment, less than 17% of land and 8% of the ocean is protected worldwide.
5 simple suggestions for our readers to help save the ocean
So, you want to save the ocean? While there are multiple challenges facing our oceans, there are plenty of ways we can all help protect them, shares Schieir.
"These ideas may feel small, but collective action can go a long way in helping ensure our oceans are healthy for future generations," he stresses.
1. Choose products packaged in Prevented Ocean Plastic
One of the easiest things you can do to help save the ocean? "Choose to buy products made from recycled plastic that cut the production of new virgin plastics," shares Schieir.
Try this: Look at the labels and switch your usual packaged berries or frozen fish for those that come packaged in Prevented Ocean Plastic, a high quality, certified recycled plastic that has been collected from coastal areas at risk of ocean plastic pollution. Prevented Ocean Plastic packaging can also be tracked by brands and customers, this means you can keep an eye on your recycled plastics from bin back to supermarket shelves.
2. Purchase seafood from sustainable sources
If you haven't watched Seaspiracy, it might be time you did. Looking into the provenance of your seafood and choosing seafood that has been sustainably sourced from a certified fishery has never been more important, says Schieir.
"These both have minimal impact on wider ecosystems, which is key," he shares.
Not sure which certification to look out for? The Marine Stewardship Council - or MSC - ensures fisheries maintain marine populations, protect the environment, and catch fish in the most sustainable ways.
3. Keep our beaches clean
You know plastic pollution is a problem, and that it's reaching the ocean at an alarming rate. But FYI, we can all play a part in preventing it.
"Those lucky enough to live by the sea should try and regularly take part in beach cleans, picking up litter before it can get into the waterways," advises Schieir. Try this: head out on your own with a bin bag and spend half an hour litter picking, or take part in an organised group beach clean with a group like Surfers Against Sewage.
Don't live close to the sea? Everyone who visits the seaside can play their part, he adds, by making sure you take all your rubbish with you and dispose of it properly, too.
4. Reduce your carbon footprint
The impact of carbon on our oceans can’t be underestimated, according to Schieir.
"There are many easy ways to cut your personal carbon footprint down – simple actions like switching your means of transport to cycling or walking instead of driving, or choosing products that have lower carbon emissions than others," he recommends.
5. Swap your cleaning products for more environmentally-friendly options
Another easy sea-friendly shopping swap? Moving to ecologically sound cleaning products.
"Everything you wash down the drain ends up in your waterways and can end up in the ocean, and toxic cleaning chemicals can impact sea life," explains Schier.
6. Seek out extra resources and keep learning about ocean plastic pollution.
Last but by no means least, educate yourself. This is perhaps the simplest - and most important - step of all.
For more information on World Oceans Day, head to their website. Or, you can join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #WorldOceansDay and #OceanClimateAction.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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