By Emily Vidovich. Emily has a background in environmental journalism and sustainability and is a member of the George Washington University Class of 2019.
June 8th marks World Ocean Day, the annual day dedicated to collective action in celebration of the oceans that make life on our blue planet possible. As the threats facing our oceans grow more dire by the year, World Ocean Day presents an important opportunity to reflect on the damage humans have done to our planet, learn about actions to reduce your personal impact, and partake in collective actions that champion ocean solutions.
The United Nations (UN) has established the current decade as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, or the Ocean Decade for short. Because the UN’s first world ocean assessment concluded that the window of opportunity in which to start managing the oceans sustainably is closing, focusing on solving ocean crises this decade is a necessity.
The goal of the Ocean Decade is to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water, which encompasses all aspects of ocean sustainability. Because the challenges facing our oceans are diverse and vast, the Ocean Decade has identified several key challenges to address. While many of the focal points rely on effective policy, blue economy innovations, and large-scale societal shifts, there are several decade challenges that individuals can contribute to in their daily lives.
To celebrate World Ocean Day, here are three Ocean Decade challenges that you can contribute to in your personal life:
- Understand and beat marine pollution: reducing your usage of single use plastics is a simple but powerful way to combat marine pollution. Carrying a reusable water bottle and shopping bag, bringing your own thermos for takeout coffees, and asking for no straw in your drink are all actions you can take to combat the accumulation of plastic pollution in our world. By switching to reusable grocery bags, the average American family could save 1,500 single use bags a year. And the benefits of ditching single use plastics reach your wallet as well as the planet; the Earth Day Network calculates that Americans could save over $250 a year by opting for water in a reusable bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles.
- Sustainably feed the global population: Global trends have made it clear that the status quo of food systems will have to shift in order to feed the growing human population. To relieve the pressure on overfished species, and avoid eating species that are harvested in notoriously destructive ways, use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide to help you make sustainable seafood choices. Substituting overfished species like swordfish, halibut, and bluefin tuna for best choice species like bass, cod, char, and mackerel can ensure that your food choices are contributing to a sustainable seafood industry. Incorporating sustainably farmed species, particularly species that are lower on the food chain like clams and mussels, is another way to make your diet more ocean friendly. Since 10 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean is abandoned fishing gear, the expansion of sustainable aquaculture could address both plastic pollution and overfishing.
- Develop a sustainable and equitable ocean economy & unlock ocean-based solutions to climate change: Use your right to vote to support candidates that make climate change and ocean protection a top priority. Sign up for updates from conservation organizations such as Sea Legacy to stay up to date on conservation petitions that you can add your voice to, because elected leaders will only act if they think their constituents care. You can also volunteer your time to your favorite local ocean conservation organizations, or make an annual donation if there aren’t volunteer opportunities near you. Finally, stay in touch with us here at AltaSea as we seek to build a hub for the blue economy that will unlock transformative ocean solutions.