Human pressures on oceans are taking a great toll on the world’s oceans. What we should know is that their temperature, chemistry, currents and life drive global systems that make the Earth habitable.
As oceans are vast, we assume that what goes into them is easily diluted. We are seldom concerned about the human-induced impacts on them as they are far from the sight of most people.But, much to our dismay, the sights of rubbish-strewn beaches; a turtle being brought up with a sharp plastic piece stuck in its nose; another grown up deformed since as a hatchling it inadvertently walked into a plastic milk jug ring and got stuck; or pelicans with beaks dripping with oil and unable to take off as the feathers are soaked in oil are becoming quite common. Thanks to social media and modern technology, we are fed more of such pictures on a daily basis. The larger and incontestable picture is that as much as 40 percent of the oceans are heavily affected by human activities
Oceans cover two-thirds of the planet, they produce 40 percent of the oxygen we consume, and absorb around 30 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans. With more than 2.6 billion people depending on them for primary source of protein, they also serve as the world’s biggest source of protein. Apart from these, oceans and seas, broadly considering, are also quite important for economies which heavily depend on tourism and fisheries. Think of the day when the famous beaches’ waters are no longer pristine blue and their sand below thick rubbish. Globally, the fishing industry directly or indirectly employs 200 million people.
By the time the BP’s oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was capped on July 15, 2010, 87 days later, an estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil had been leaked into the gulf. Crude oil contains polcyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are very difficult to clean up, and they can last for years in the sediment and marine environment. 16,000 total miles of coastline were affected and over 8,000 animals were reported dead just 6 months after the spill, including many endangered species. The catastrophe also delivered its worse economic impact on the gulf’s fishing and tourism industries which generate $3.5- $4.5 billion a year.
Runoff from farming, as well as from construction carry soil and particles laden with chemicals such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and minerals. Such water can cause fleshy algae, resulting to what is known as algal blooms. Though a relatively new process, deep sea mining for precious metals is another threat. The use of either hydraulic pumps or bucket systems to extract the rich deposits can cause significant damage to coral reefs which protect coastlines from wave actions and tropical storms, and also provide habitats and shelter to many organisms. Moreover, substantial damages to coral reefs can change the depth and temperature of the water near the shore.
Human pressures such as overexploitation, unregulated and destructive fishing, marine pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and acidification are taking a great toll on the world’s oceans and seas. What we should know is that their temperature, chemistry, currents and life drive global systems that make the Earth habitable. Even rainwater, weather, climate, much of our food are all provided and regulated by oceans.
Careful management of this global resource is a crucial feature of a sustainable future. To remind everyone of the major role the oceans play in our life, today the world marks World Oceans Day with the theme, Our Oceans, Our Future. The concept of the event is a way to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea, as well as to raise awareness about the important ways people can help protect. The day urges us to reflects on our actions and the detrimental impacts they have delivered. Even the pollution on land is, in some way or the other, connected to marine pollution. We need to mobilize and unite for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.
Since governments and world bodies alone cannot mitigate the damage, several businesses around the world have displayed their willingness. For instance, footwear and apparels brand Adidas partnered with non-profit making organisation Parley to launch an ocean plastic waste sneaker last year. But it was a limited release and more of a concept. Reiterating its commitment to green materials, the brand has again partnered with Parley to turn ocean plastic waste into thread that is woven into running shoes. Each shoe uses an average of 11 plastic bottles per pair and incorporates recycled plastic into the shoe’s laces, heel webbing, heel lining, and sock liner covers.
Taking a serious note, Fiinovation observes World Oceans Day to ensure that the message is shared and forwarded. It is our wish to see more sustainable actions in the days ahead. What we, as a CSR organisation, feel resonates in what Captain Paul Wilson once said, If the oceans die, we die.
N. Bobo Meitei
Executive Editor, Fiinovation