World News — The ocean is one of the most precious resources we have on our planet, covering more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. It provides us with the air we breathe, and the food we eat, and regulates our climate and weather. However, despite its importance, the ocean is under constant threat from human activity. On June 8th, we celebrated World Oceans Day, an annual event that brings attention to the importance of protecting our oceans.
This year’s theme for World Oceans Day was “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods.” The theme highlighted the critical role that oceans play in our daily lives. In his message for World Oceans Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the importance of protecting the ocean, calling it “the foundation of life.”
However, he also pointed out that despite its importance, the ocean is under threat from human activity. Human-induced climate change is causing the ocean to warm, disrupting weather patterns and ocean currents, and altering marine ecosystems and the species living there. Overfishing, over-exploitation, and ocean acidification are also threatening marine biodiversity, depleting fish stocks, and polluting coastal waters with chemicals, plastics, and human waste.
It is no secret that humanity is the ocean’s worst enemy. The good news is that the tides are turning. In December of last year, countries adopted an ambitious global target to conserve and manage 30 percent of land, marine, and coastal areas by the end of the decade. This initiative shows that the world is committed to taking positive action to protect our oceans.
Additionally, the landmark agreement on fisheries subsidies and the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, showed the world’s commitment to taking positive action to protect our oceans. Negotiations are currently underway for a global, legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution. In March, countries agreed on the historic High Seas Treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
These initiatives hold great promise, but realizing them requires collective commitment. We all have a role to play in protecting our oceans. The ocean plays a crucial role in our food security, and there is not a single global problem that can be solved without considering the ocean as part of the solution.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the ocean is already the main source of protein for more than a billion people worldwide and offers many opportunities to help feed the growing global population. Aquaculture, the farming of fish and aquatic plants, has been the fastest-growing food production system for the last five decades and is expected to grow by about 25 percent between now and the end of this decade.
The FAO has spearheaded a Blue Transformation Initiative that aims to ensure fisheries are managed effectively and sustainably, and that the value chain of aquatic foods is transparent to the consumer. About 600 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. Therefore, it is essential to protect the oceans and ensure that they remain healthy and productive for future generations.
This World Oceans Day, let us remember the importance of the ocean in our daily lives and commit to taking action to protect and preserve it. Our survival depends on it. Let us make every day World Oceans Day and put the ocean first.