The United Nations (UN) is celebrating World Ocean Day on Tuesday, June 8th with the theme ‘Our oceans: opportunities and challenges.’
The celebration was instituted just last year and since then has been commemorated annually by conservation groups, schools, businesses and governments everywhere.
Reasons to celebrate World Ocean Day
Given the recent and very-much-ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s an especially wonderful time to raise awareness about the oceans’ plights and learn how we can “make a difference” (or a phrase that doesn’t make you gag).
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moo said the ocean’s main three challenges right now are overfishing, climate change and pollution.
World Ocean Day allows us to:
- Change perspective: encourage others to consider what the ocean represents to them and our planet, which hopefully will get more people interested in respecting and working to preserve it for generations to come.
- Learn: read about and watch documentaries on marine life and the richness of life in our oceans, visit the beach, etc., – whatever you feel will allow you to bond with our planet’s natural bodies of water.
- Make adjustments: educate yourself about endangered marine species (e.g., bluefin and other types of tuna, swordfish, skates and rays, marlin, Atlantic cod and orange roughy) so you can cross that seafood off your shopping list – and remember to tell others why you’re switching! (Check out Greenpeace’s Seafood Red List here.) You can also read up on which supermarkets shun unsustainable seafood (so you can shop there), biodegradable pesticides and fertilizers for your backyard, wear biodegradable sunscreen, etc.
- Celebrate: take part in the day’s festivities! For instance, write a letter to BP about the catastrophe it’s caused in the Gulf of Mexico and take part in demonstrations and sign petitions against oil drilling.
The UN resolution
The UN resolution calls on user States and States bordering straits utilized for international navigation to keep working together to resolve issues regarding navigation safety, e.g., aids to navigation safety and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution generated by ships and other vessels.
Countries are being urged to consider becoming members of the International Hydrographic Organization, and to cooperate with that organization to boost the coverage of hydrographic information across the planet.
These orders are meant to strengthen technical assistance and promote navigation safety, particularly in areas of international navigation, ports and vulnerable or protected marine zones.
“The oceans play a fundamental role in our daily lives. They are an integral part of sustainable development and an important frontier for research. As scientists explore the oceans to increasing depths, they continue to discover new forms of marine life,” said Ki-moo.
“These investigations have great potential with regards to the improvement of human welfare. But if we are to benefit fully from what the oceans have to offer, we must address the harmful effects of human activities. The diversity of life in the oceans is under increasing pressure,” he added.
Ki-moo said marine ecosystems are being threatened by three major phenomena:
- The overexploitation of living marine resources;
- Climate change;
- Pollution from activities involving materials and hazards.
“The same applies to the increase in criminal activities, including piracy, which have serious implications for safety of navigation and the protection of seafarers,” he noted.