High seas under threat
Beyond national waters spans a global ocean which encompasses almost half of the Earth’s surface. These vast ‘high seas’ are home to a complex, rich and diverse submarine world. The marine life inhabiting this world drives the ocean’s biological pump, capturing carbon at the surface and storing it deep below – without this essential service, our atmosphere would contain 50% more carbon dioxide and the world would be uninhabitably hot.
But the global ocean is facing increasing threats from climate change, industrial fishing, ocean acidification, plastic and other pollution, and emerging destructive industries such as deep sea mining. Scientists are calling for at least 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected as ocean sanctuaries – areas safe from human exploitation.
Marine debris is the name given to solid materials, mostly waste, that pollute the marine environment; this is a pervasive problem that harms and kills marine life worldwide. Synthetic materials are a common type of marine debris, and plastics are the most problematic.
A recent study conducted to provide baseline data and assist in prioritising future plastic debris monitoring and mitigation strategies has estimated that between 1.15 and 2.41 million tonnes of plastic waste currently enters the ocean every year from rivers, with over 74% of emissions occurring between May and October. The top 20 polluting rivers, mostly located in Asia, account for 67% of the global total. The scale of the ocean plastic problem is vast, contaminating everywhere from the tropics to the polar oceans.
(source: 30x30 A blueprint for ocean protection, Greenpeace)
Waiting for the establishment of ocean sanctuaries worldwide, we all can do our part every day to help our oceans and marine life: use natural renewable energy, consume km0 organic food, use natural reusable products instead of single use plastics.
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