The ocean sustains life on earth. It provides half the oxygen we breathe, has absorbed a quarter of our carbon emissions, supports the livelihoods of over three billion people and puts food on our plates.
But the ocean is in trouble. There’s more plastic in the ocean than ever before – by 2050 it’s predicted there will be more plastic than fish! Pollution is causing ‘dead zones’, climate change is warming the ocean making it increasingly acidic, overfishing is putting species dangerously at risk and ecosystems are being pushed beyond their limit.
Despite covering 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, only three per cent of the ocean is currently under some form of protection, and much of the remaining 97 per cent suffers from poor management. There is also so much we still don’t know – the ocean is probably the least understood and most biologically diverse of all of Earth’s ecosystems with millions of species yet to be discovered.
But it’s not too late. We can change the tide. The ocean is incredibly resilient and it could recover, but only if we all play our part. Studies have shown that creating marine protected areas have multiple positive effects – they result in higher fish populations, larger fish, and greater biodiversity both within the reserve and beyond, due to the “spill-over” effect.
Today is an historic moment for the oceans. Running from June 5th to 9th, the United Nations is hosting the first ever conference entirely dedicated to the ocean – focussing on Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.
To coincide with this, Virgin Unite’s initiative, Ocean Unite, is launching a campaign called The Ocean is Everybody’s Business – all about how business can help protect the ocean for the future. For advice on how businesses can play their part, visit the dedicated Ocean is Everybody’s Business website which outlines 8 keys ways to make ocean business your business.
For individuals looking to do their bit to save the ocean, there are lots of things we can all do. Here’s a few ideas:
- Encourage businesses to get involved in the www.theoceaniseverybodysbusiness.org campaign
- Sign the Avaaz petition to call on World Leaders to protect 30 per cent of the World’s Oceans
- Get to know your seafood – download a sustainable seafood guide for your country and ask questions of your fishmonger.
- Buy local and support your local fishermen.
- Reduce your plastic use – especially single use items, such as straws, plastic bags and bottles, so less of it ends up in the sea. Check out the 10 ways to reduce your plastic use and move towards a plastic-free future
- Purchase recycled products, recycle everything you can and ask companies to reduce their plastic footprint
- Reduce your carbon footprint and offset your carbon impact by investing in the protection of seagrass beds – seagrass habitats are incredibly effective in storing carbon
- Support Ocean Unite by donating, buying a Gift For Good on Virgin Experience Days or visiting the shop
- Lend your voice and share the issues affecting the ocean, and follow the campaign hashtag #TheOceanOurBusiness