World Ocean Day 2023

World Ocean Day 2023

World Ocean Day 2023: Are Oceans The Most Overlooked Area of Global Conservation?

 World Ocean Day, which takes place on 8 June each year, serves as a reminder of the critical role our oceans play in sustaining life on Earth.

 As one of the most neglected of the UN Sustainability Development Goals, it cannot be overemphasised how urgently we need to take action to conserve this water environment that makes up 71% of the Earth’s surface.

In what is a hugely overlooked area of conservation, this World Oceans Day 2023 it’s time we gave equal billing to life below water as we do to life above it.

Our oceans are facing unprecedented threats from climate change, pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction - and if we fail to act, then we will all face devastating consequences.

Discover why the sea is so important to life on Earth and find out how to take action to help conserve our blue planet.

Decline in Fish Populations

Our oceans play host to an incredible array of biodiversity with ecosystems ranging from tropical coral reefs, vast kelp forests to deep trenches. According to the World Wildlife Fund 80% of the world’s biodiversity comes from the sea. It is home to around 250,000 named species, with the Census of Marine Life suggesting around another two thirds remain unidentified.

However, this biodiversity is at risk. Overfishing has already led to a decline of nearly 90% in large predatory fish populations such as sharks, tuna, marlin and swordfish since 1950.

And rising temperatures mixed with the increasing acidification of sea water has seen unparallelled habitat destruction, such as coral reef bleaching - which disrupts food chains and threatens the survival of numerous marine species.

Research suggests a staggering 50% of the world's coral reefs have already been lost and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns if we fail to curb emissions, we could lose up to 90% of coral reefs by 2100.

Record Fines for Companies

Not only are we depleting the marine life that should exist in our seas at an ever increasing rate, we’re replacing it with waste that has absolutely no right to belong there.

Last month Surfers Against Sewage made headlines for staging a demonstration across 12 different locations around the UK to protest against water companies recklessly dumping sewage directly into the sea.

It came after South West Water had been fined a record £2.1m for illegally polluting waterways.

On one occasion raw sewage was pumped into the sea for more than 35 hours, with a sample taken from a stream at the nearest beach showing E. coli levels to be 2,000 times higher than a poor rating.

And reckless dumping from companies doesn’t stop there.

More Plastic than Fish

Every year, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean - and by 2050, it is projected that the ocean will contain, by weight, more plastic than fish unless we take immediate action on waste management.

Not only does this cause immense harm to fish and other marine animals, but ultimately to ourselves - not least through the ingestion of microplastics, which are now so ubiquitous they have been found present in unborn babies.

Ocean Economics

And if the environmental factors weren’t enough to regard the health of the blue planet a top priority, you may wish to consider the economic argument.

 The ocean economy contributes an estimated £1.2 trillion annually to global GDP, supporting industries such as tourism, fisheries, and transportation.

 Simply put, it provides livelihoods for millions of people worldwide and ensures the food security of coastal communities that rely on fishing as their primary source of sustenance.

 And we haven’t even touched on the devastation that will occur to these low-lying communities with the threat of rising sea levels.


Overlooked Oceans

 And while conservation of every kind is vital, marine conservation is often overlooked in high profile awareness campaigns.

 While we all know that the deforestation of the planet’s rainforests presents an urgent and pressing problem, consider that the ocean sequesters almost double the amount of carbon each year in comparison.

 Research suggests that tropical rainforests - branded the lungs of the planet - sequester around 1.3 billion metric tons of carbon annually. Meanwhile, studies estimate that oceans sequester around 2.5 billion metric tons of carbon per year.

 That’s approximately 25% of the total CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere globally each year - making the oceans a crucial carbon sink.

 Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates the top 700 metres of the ocean have absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat generated by human activities since the 1970s.

 Nevertheless, despite its significance, marine conservation has received less than 1% of all charitable funding since 2009 and remains the least funded of all the Sustainable Development Goals, according to charity Funding The Ocean.

 ‘Invest in the Ocean’

 This disparity can perhaps be attributed to factors such as the vastness and complexity of marine environments, a lack of public awareness, and the perception that marine conservation is more challenging and expensive to implement.

 James Merchant, from the Marine Conservation Society, said: “For some the ocean may seem out of sight, out of mind. But it’s  worth remembering that the ocean has ensured a habitable climate for life on earth as we know it.

 “We must invest in the ocean to protect the planet, and provide long-term benefits to society, creating new livelihoods and support the global economy.”

 The challenges facing our oceans may seem daunting, but there is hope. International collaboration, purpose-driven businesses and individual actions can make a significant difference.


How Businesses Can Help…

 Sustainable childrenswear store My Little Green Wardrobe only stock swimwear and outerwear that is made from recycled materials. Some, such as Muddy Puddles’ Eco-Splash Rain Jackets and Puddlesuits, or Frugi’s Toasty Trail Puffer Jackets are made from recycled plastic bottles.

 And their eco-friendly kids swimwear lines from brands like Turtledove London are made from EcoNyl which sources material from old fishing nets, and used carpets.

 This is important because the OECD estimates that globally only 9% of plastic waste is recycled.

 There are other brands taking sea conservation seriously and using their businesses for good.

 One Green Bottle produces stainless steel bottles and containers - and for each item sold they fund the collection of 25 plastic bottles from the ocean. They estimate that their customers have already helped save 10 billion single use plastic bottles from the sea in the 15 years they have been operational.

 They also partner with marine conservation non-profit Ocean Generation to donate to research and education.


How You Can Help on World Oceans Day…


Follow these tips for ways you can take action on World Oceans Day:


1.   Take Part in the Movement

Head to the World Oceans Day website to find educational resources and events happening near you today and across the month.

2.   Give Seafood A Rest

Avoid seafood for the day - or even for the rest of the week or month?

While there are many well-managed and sustainable fisheries, there are also many fisheries that are poorly managed and which put enormous pressure on marine ecosystems. According to the UN, 89.5% of fish stocks worldwide are either fully fished (58.1%) or overfished (31.4%).

If we can reduce our overall consumption of meat and fish, the more impact we can individually have on climate change.

3.   Join a Beach Clean

Get involved with a beach clean such as the Million Mile Clean run by Surfers Against Sewage. The charity runs events around the year and aims to clear one million miles around the UK by 2030. If you aren’t near the coast, they also organise cleans in towns and cities.

4.   Learn

Read online resources or watch a film about the issues impacting the ocean. Options include the BBC’s two ground-breaking Blue Planet series, or the 2016 film A Plastic Ocean, named by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the most important films of our time”.

5.   Citizen Science

This is a great way to involve the kids! Gather important data for citizen science projects run by the likes of the Marine Conservation Society UK. Citizen scientists play a valuable part in the fight for a cleaner, better protected, healthier ocean. With your help charities can collect enough information to provide evidence-based results which can be used to understand the state of our seas and campaign for change.


This World Oceans Day, let us recognize the necessity of ocean conservation and commit to taking meaningful action - even if it is simply raising our own awareness.

By implementing sustainable practices, supporting conservation efforts, and advocating for policy changes, we can protect our precious blue planet - as well as the entire planet - for generations to come.

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