Monday, June 8, 2009

World Oceans Day

Today, Monday June 8, is World Oceans Day. This is the first World Oceans Day that has been officially recognized by the United Nations, although it has been celebrated before. If you work on ocean-related issues, you may be wondering, what exactly are we celebrating today? The depletion of 90% of the world's stocks of large fish, such as tuna and sword fish? Declining fish catches worldwide, which are probably symptomatic of the dramatic overfishing of most of the world's fisheries? Perhaps the prospect of eating jellyfish or swimming in an ocean devoid of life? But before we get too overwhelmed, today is also an opportunity to make others aware of how much humans depend on the ocean. Global oceans don't need us, but we certainly need them. As The Ocean Project points out, the ocean:

  • Generates most of the oxygen we breathe;
  • Helps feed us;
  • Regulates our climate;
  • Cleans the water we drink;
  • Offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines; and
  • Provides limitless inspiration!
There are many proposed approaches for fixing the problems with the ocean, some more controversial than others, but it is evident that current methods are not working. I hope that reading about World Oceans Day doesn't make people feel hopeless, but rather impresses upon people the importance of implementing policies to protect the oceans, even if these policies may have short-term economic or social costs. The long-term benefits of closing a fishery for a few years or forcing businesses to implement stricter pollution controls will be worth it.

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