World Oceans Day: What Is It And How Can You Help?
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World Oceans Day: What Is It And How Can You Help?

This year's theme is 'Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing'

Celebrated each year on 8 June, World Oceans Day aims to support the collaborative conservation of our oceans and marine life.  It was appointed by The United Nations as ‘a day for humanity to celebrate the ocean.’ Here’s everything you need to know.

World Oceans Day: What Is It And How Can You Help?

Seventy per cent of the earth is made up of water, producing at least 50 per cent of the planet’s oxygen, as affirmed by the United Nations. Although we often take them for granted, earth’s oceans are vital to our existence – and now, they need our help more than ever.

If you’ve watched Seaspiracy (the much-talked-about documentary film about the effects of commercial fishing), you might already have an understanding of how humans are negatively impacting the oceans. From rising sea levels to plastic pollution, our oceans are under serious threat, and it’s up to us to protect them. World Oceans Day provides the perfect opportunity to learn more and take action.

What is World Oceans Day?

World Oceans Day is a global event which gives us the chance to reflect on the frightening state of our oceans and find out how we can make valuable changes. Since its inception during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992, it has inspired ocean clean-ups, safeguarding solutions, and even greater gender parity within ocean-related industries.

Each year, the UN coordinates talks, workshops, conferences and fundraising events around the world in celebration of World Oceans Day. Themes have included ‘Clean Our Ocean’, ‘Our Oceans: Greening Our Future’, and ‘UNCLOS @ 30’, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

World Oceans Day

Belle Co via Pexels

‘With 90 per cent of big fish populations depleted, and 50 per cent of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished,’ says the UN. ‘To protect and preserve the ocean and all it sustains, we must create a new balance, rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it. We must build a connection to the ocean that is inclusive, innovative, and informed by lessons from the past.’

What Is This Year’s Theme?

This year’s UN World Oceans Day theme is ‘Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing’, which reminds us to put the ocean front and centre when we think about sustainability and the environment. Working with everyone from scientists and private sector executives to indigenous communities, youth activists and an array of celebrities, the UN will be highlighting all the incredible benefits our oceans bring and how we can protect them. Speakers at the UN World Oceans Day virtual event include marine biologist, oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle, plus actors Lucas Bravo (of Emily in Paris fame) and Jason Momoa.

How Can You Get Involved?

Events are taking place all over the world, hosted by science centres, research institutes, NGOs and communities. You can search the World Oceans Day calendar to see what’s going on near you. The virtual event will be live-streamed, meaning you can tune into the talks and panel discussions from home – register here for free.

Six Ways To Help Save The Oceans

Reduce Plastic Waste

Single-use plastics are a huge contributor to ocean pollution. Avoid buying products like plastic bags, straws and bottles, and try sustainable swaps: from beeswax wrap to reusable teabags, there are plenty of ways to cut down on plastic and reduce waste.

Choose Sustainable Seafood

Fishing boat on a calm ocean at sunset.

Buy sustainably-sourced seafood certified by associations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Buy from local fishmongers to ensure you’re more informed about where your seafood is coming from.

Conserve Water

Using less water means that less wastewater ends up in our oceans. It also reduces the energy required to treat, filter, heat and pump it, ultimately reducing carbon emissions. You can save water by taking shorter showers, ensuring dishwashers and washing machines are full before they run, and installing water-efficient shower heads and other eco-friendly fixtures.

Practise Responsible Tourism

If you’re visiting coastal areas or going for a swim, make sure to be mindful of local ecosystems. Respect marine life, follow any designated paths and avoid damaging coral reefs or seagrass beds.

Educate Others

At the heart of World Ocean Day is the need to spread awareness about the state of the oceans and learn about how to help. Encourage family, friends and your wider community to take action by sharing information, organising talks and workshops, and helping out in local river clean-ups or litter-picking schemes. 

Support Ocean Conservation Organizations

Consider volunteering for or donating to groups which help protect the oceans by conducting research, running conservation projects and advocating for policy changes. Some fantastic organisations include Oceana, The Ocean Conservancy and the Marine Conservation Society.

For more information, visit unworldoceansday.org and worldoceanday.org

Featured image: Getty Images