Action on the Sea: Who is leading and what are they are doing?
It is World Oceans Day and I would l love to be surfing or even walking along the beach but the wind is super-strong and the rain thrashing down. There will be a lot of clearing up to do after this storm.
Storms make visible the pollution of the oceans as it is spewed onto the beaches. Plastics washed ashore by the tons, ropes, nets, cray-pots and unfortunately dead animals as well. Previously strong, healthy and well-fed sea birds and marine animals could weather the storms to a great extent. Now, impoverished and malnutritioned with plastic in their stomachs, and more obstacles to become entangled with, many succumb to being washed ashore.
What can we do and how?
I receive newsletter emails and FaceBook alerts from several organistions I have supported over time. In this blog I am listing them, what they do and how they would like your help. They all have web pages and it seems you just don’t have a voice unless you are on FB too. I will start local and go global, mainly quoting their words. This is a small list, a tiny drop in the ocean. When I looked at Mission Blue’s list of partners there were over 200 organisations listed.
We don’t need more organistions. We need collaboration and coordinated action. I hope this introduction to some that I know helps build awareness of the huge problem, need for clean oceans and what is happening that we can tap into. I invite you to catch the wave of hope with me.
Ningaloo Reef is a fringe coral reef, the only one in Western Australia that is so close to shore in places that you can wade in and peer underwater at coral ‘bombies’. The surrounding landscape is rugged and deep gorges run from the coast inland. It is a timeless country once home to peoples who survived for over 50,000 years here. A small town, Exmouth grew to support the fishing and cattle station (ranch) business. It is sheltered by a gulf of the same name as the town. Tourism is the biggest business now but industrial activity is a huge threat.
“Subsea 7 has submitted changes to the onshore pipeline fabrication facility [proposal], about 35km south of Exmouth, which would cause an additional 7ha of vegetation clearance, on top of the 170ha already proposed. More importantly, it has admitted the launch and towing of the pipeline bundles through the Exmouth Gulf will cause up to 1464ha of seabed disturbance, when originally Subsea 7 claimed there would be none.” (West Australian March 13, 2019)
From the Protect Ningaloo web site: “Exmouth Gulf is a rare and precious estuarine system of 2600km². Relatively shallow and surrounded by life-giving mangroves, it is the engine room of the nearby Reef. Its bays, islands, creeks, corals, and sponge gardens are nurseries for untold fish, crustaceans, rays, sharks and birds. Each winter hundreds of humpback whales arrive from the Antarctic to give birth and nurse their calves. Wherever you are on the Gulf, the Range looms like a sentinel, and much of the life you see on the Reef was born in the Gulf.”
“Protect Ningaloo is a grassroots initiative by ordinary people who are inspired by one of the world’s last great places and want to protect it. We are supported by an alliance of community groups and charities. Cape Conservation Group is a volunteer organization based in Exmouth. The Conservation Council of WA is the state’s premier environmental NGO. The Australian Marine Conservation Society is the nation’s peak marine charity. All of these groups were members of the historic Save Ningaloo Reef campaign that ran from 2000-2005. We’re supported by scientists, researchers, tourism operators, rec-fishers, birders and enthusiastic amateur nature lovers from all over the world. We’re strapped for cash, short of time and we’re in the fight of our lives but we hope you’ll feel the passion and help us however you can.”
One of my favourite authors is Tim Winton. I connect with his ocean loving life retold in many of his books and love his style of writing. He is a favorite author for many Australians and great advocate for places we love in nature. You can find a great short video here. I really recommend you click and watch.
I received this link in an email “…[here is] a really lovely article by Tim Winton, our patron and Australia’s literary hero about his feelings about the Exmouth Gulf…”
Ningaloo Reef, already with zones classified as sanctuary, and the Exmouth Gulf need to be protected as a Marine Sanctuary where no human or robotic activity can adversely affect the habitat. I wish to propose it become a ‘Hope Spot‘.
Equinor Oil in the Great Australian Bight
I used to live on the far west coast of South Australia and love the rugged, and in many areas, untouched coast-line. This is where the desert meets the ocean and the rainfall is borderline sustainable for wheat and sheep farming. There is some mining and fishing but it has so far been fairly low impact. A huge threat is the proposed oil drilling in the very deep ocean of the Great Australian Bight, a few hundred kilometres west of the town where I lived – Penong. The Head of the Bight is home to nursing whales where they can be seen easily from a look out on top of amazing cliffs. It is a major tourist destination as people cross the Nullabor Plain. I wrote a blog on why this should be granted the Rights of Nature here.
Many organisations have been appealing to all levels of government to prevent foreign companies access to this pristine area. The regulatory body NOPSEMA has continued to require further safe guards. But really, there can be no safety in such wild, deep seas. Even if there is never a spill the blasting is deafening to cetaceans and can lead to their death. An alliance was formed called the Great Australian Bight Alliance and on FB here
Australia, Island Continent
The Australian Marine Conservation Council collaborates with many other ocean-focused organisations. They are currently visible educating and advocating for preservation of the Great Barrier Reef, with a focus on educating about the threats Adani’scoal mine is to the Reef. They are focused on getting plastic out of the ocean and preventing it getting there and one of their suggested activities is pledging to join ‘Plastic Free July’. Avoiding eating fish is advised or at least choosing a fish that has been sustainable sourced. A recommendation is downloading the Sustainable fish-eating guide.
From their web site: “Over 50 years ago the Australian Marine Conservation Society was formed by a community of scientists and ocean conservationists, who came together to take action to protect our marine life.
Together we advocate for real, evidence based solutions based on the best available science. We work closely with research centres across the globe, and employ conservation experts to drive our work safeguarding the future of Australia’s amazing oceans.”
You can also find them on FB
Around the globe and in Australia
Although Greenpeace is an International organisation I will highlight the work of the Australian arm. I have signed many of their petitions and admire their investigative work.
Greenpeace have many projects and it is hard to summarise the extent of their activities.
This is one excerpt. “Ocean scientists believe there could be anywhere between 500,000 and 5 million species in the ocean that we haven’t even discovered. The oceans are vital to human health as well, providing food, enjoyment and livelihood to billions of people. In our region, Pacific Island states are deeply connected and inextricably reliant on ocean health for income and food security, while Australia’s ocean territory is one of the largest and most biodiverse of any country in the world.”
On their web site they describe projects aimed at the threat of plastics, over fishing and industry.
They look into the many causes of declining marine life – acidification, coral reef destruction, coastal development and loss of mangroves.
Overall there is destruction of habitat – “Only 5% of the ocean surface is classified as Marine Park, despite scientists believing 30% is necessary.”
The ocean is changing before our eyes. It is essential for our planets life, for marine life, for our lives.
“Blue carbon is carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystems. Ocean plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, just like land plants, but they are even more effective. Ocean vegetation can absorb four times more carbon than forests. Blue carbon sinks – mangroves, saltmarshes, seagrasses and estuaries – capture 1 billion metric tons of carbon every year.
Sustainable food guides – It would be preferable to stop eating all seafood together!
If you want to help, choose small fast-growing sustainable species. Avoid top predators, such as swordfish, sharks and tuna. These animals can accumulate unhealthy levels of mercury, but are also slow growing and reproduce less often, meaning fish are slower to reproduce.”
Like re-wilding the Earth the ocean needs wild spaces. Greenpeace is advocating for marine sanctuaries. I can see that if all groups concerned about the ocean join this they will have the people power to get a treaty.
“To protect our oceans, we are also pushing to create a global network of ocean sanctuaries. Currently, less than 2 percent of all the oceans across the world are currently protected by law. If we want to give marine life a fighting chance, we need to drastically expand their protected areas. We are fighting to create ocean sanctuaries in a 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
If you want to know more about this ocean sanctuaries network project, check out this interactive map that details the different threats our oceans are facing and the areas we’re fighting to include in our proposed global ocean sanctuary.
These areas would be protected from human exploitation, meaning any kind of extraction or degradation (fishing, mining, waste disposal) would be forbidden, allowing species to recover.”
Greenpeace support Blue the Film
and say this: BLUE is a cinematic song for our oceans; beautiful, intimate and grand. Fearlessly truth-telling, yet passionately hopeful. See this film and you will want to rise up with the waves.” Also https://www.facebook.com/bluethefilm2017
Sea Shepherd is active in Australian waters and probably best known here for their actions against whaling in the Antarctic. They take action against illegal actions harming the oceans.
From the site: “WE ARE SEA SHEPHERD
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization…
Established in 1977, our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. We use innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.”
Also highlighted by Sea Shepherd are the Micro-plastics in the food chain. If you are eating fish you are likely consuming plastic. Information you can share on this can be found on their FB page.
There are numerous organisations doing great work cleaning up plastic from beaches, preventing plastics and other rubbish from entering the sea and some are also offering local work opportunities by recycling ocean plastic.
I have been following The Great Ocean Clean Up.
As an 18 year old youth Boylan Slat dedicated himself to a solution to plastic in the ocean. He ‘devised a concept’ that would collect the garbage and set about finding ways to fund his project. The focus became the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. He founded the organization and is CEO.
Although the ingenious device has had initial launching issues it is due for relaunching soon. (June 2019). You can follow the news here.
I was drawn to recycling plastic collected from the shore when I spent a fair bit of time in Bali in 2016. I wrote a blog you can find here. One company I came across was Social Plastic. They pay above industry price for plastic collected by local people in designated areas and convert it to plastic filament that can be used for 3D plastic productions.
Social Plastic and Plastic Bank are connected. From the site: “By enabling the exchange of plastic for money, items, or Blockchain secured digital tokens, we reveal the value in plastic. This empowers recycling ecosystems around the world and stops the flow of plastic into our oceans. All while helping people living in poverty build better futures.” Also on FB
‘Take 3 for the Sea’ – the name explains itself. When visiting the beach pick up three pieces of plastic. A memorable slogan and easy to do. Plus they have information and educational programs about ocean plastic.
You may have seen FB adverts for a recycled plastic bracelet that funds removal of plastic from the ocean . https://4ocean.com
“By purchasing a 4ocean bracelet, you will remove one pound of trash from the ocean & coastlines.”…Based in high plastic pollution density areas like Haiti they employ local fishermen as captains and crew on clean up vessels….“Our primary goal is to clean the plastic and trash already polluting Haiti by focusing on river mouths where we can intercept and recover it before it enters the ocean. We’re partnering with a privately-held recycling facility in Port-au-Prince to ensure that the ocean plastic we recover is properly recycled and the other marine debris we collect is disposed of properly, too. We’re also creating and joining local awareness programs to help educate affected communities about the impacts plastic has on the ocean and their local environment. By sharing these impacts, we can help change behaviors and prevent more plastic and trash from entering the ocean.”
Answering the call
Dr Sylvia Earle legendary oceanographer, and passionate crusader for marine sanctuaries started Mission Blue. I see her Hope Spots, which seem to be more coastal versions, aligned with Greenpeace’s high seas marine sanctuaries, as solutions for local endangered areas, like Ningaloo. Both are quoting the science that at least 30% and preferably 50% of the ocean needs to be protected.
Dr Earle presented a great talk just after the Mexico Gulf oil spill on TedX. She talks of her Hope…
“I wish you would use all means at your disposal—films, expeditions, the web, new submarines—to create a campaign to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas; Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the blue heart of the planet.”
A film has been produced which I haven’t seen. It is on Netflix (which I don’t have) but there is also a DVD for sale. Here is the trailer for film. I love this and invite you to click and watch.
“Mission Blue inspires action to explore and protect the ocean. Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots.”
Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope due to:
- A special abundance or diversity of species, unusual or representative species, habitats or ecosystems
- Particular populations of rare, threatened or endemic species
- A site with potential to reverse damage from negative human impacts
- The presence of natural processes such as major migration corridors or spawning grounds
- Significant historical, cultural or spiritual values
- Particular economic importance to the community
The idea is that anyone can nominate a site special to him or her—a site that gives HOPE. Collectively all of these Hope Spots will create a global wave of community support for ocean conservation that leaders and policy makers can’t ignore.
Mission Blue invites you to learn about our existing Hope Spots using the Google Map below. Meet the Hope Spot Council HERE.”
On a smaller scale, one that may be overlooked by many, is an organisation called Save the Waves that monitors and advocates for protection of surf breaks threatened by any type of pollution or development.
Surfing brings me a mindful connection to Nature, fitness and bliss.
Save the Waves have an App, which means you can take a photo of any issue and send it to the organisation from the App. The health of the coastline is monitored and crowdsourced data produced.
“The surf zone is one of the most unique environments on earth, providing surfers with epic waves, and providing habitat and numerous species of plants and animals. Our goal is to proactively address the issues that can harm this unique ecosystem, focused on the following:
Coastal Development, Water Quality & Watersheds, Sea Level Rise & Coastal Erosion, Marine Debris, Reefs, and Access…
Save The Waves’ vision is a world where waves and coastlines are cherished and protected, and surfing provides a proactive vehicle for long-term coastal conservation.”
Naming the Day – World Oceans Day
Whilst searching for information on World Oceans Day one ultimately finds the official web site. Apparently it was trademarked to stop exploitation of the name by businesses.
“World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This site serves as a central coordinating platform for World Oceans Day, with free resources and ideas for everyone – no matter where you live – to help expand the reach and impact of World Oceans Day on 8 June and year-round.”
It is linked to this site…
“Advance ocean conservation in collaboration with aquariums, zoos, museums, youth, and other partners in our growing global network.
Everything The Ocean Project does is based on the values of collaboration, innovation, persistence, and a respect for all people and life on our blue planet.”
The United Nations recognition of World Oceans Day
The UN applies themes to internationally recognised Days. For the Ocean this year it is Gender equality. I would like to honour all women working to advance ocean health, sustainability and regeneration.
“Focus for 2019: Gender and the Ocean
We have an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean.
This year, we strive to build greater ocean and gender literacy, and to discover possible ways to promote gender equality in ocean-related activities such as marine scientific research, fisheries, labour at sea, migration by sea and human trafficking, as well as policy-making and management.
The importance of gender equality — in particular for the effective conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources — is increasingly recognized. However, there is very little data and research on these issues, and a concerted action towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is still needed in all ocean-related sectors to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5.”
Oceans and the Sustainable Development Goals
The Declaration of World Oceans Day in 2008 catalysed action worldwide. Twenty-five years after the first Oceans Day took place in Rio de Janeiro at UNCED, a special event on June 8th marked its celebration during the United Nations Ocean Conference held from 5-9 June 2017. The Ocean Conference was convened to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Wrap up – Surfing the waves of change
When I look at the enormity of the problem I feel overwhelmed and grieve for the loss I see. At times I might even describe it as solastalgia, a term coined by Glenn Albrecht to describe the despair, depression and even suicidal thoughts that come from seeing places we love and are connected to destroyed. When I first read an article describing his work it was reported that Glenn suggested taking action that you feel drawn to as a way to help. I sign petitions, share news and causes on FB.
I have picked up bag after bag of plastic to see more wash up the next day in Costa Rica and Bali.
I looked into buying a small plastic bottle crusher and machine to convert the plastic to filament for 3 D but the project seemed to big for me on my own in a foreign country. I donate money to other organisations when I can. I offer my time to help organisations on the front lines. But still I wonder if it is enough.
Will the ocean survive the Anthropocene? Can we change our thinking to create this period as the Symbiocene, a time when we recognise our symbiosis? In Glenn Albrecht’s words “a point in human social development where almost every element of human culture, habitat and technology will be seamlessly re-integrated back into life cycles and processes.”
I am aware of people actively campaigning and doing all they can, and scientists explaining the evidence yet being ridiculed by those with power, feeling despair that may lead to burn out, an inability to continue. I send gratitude and love to them. Linking together, collaborating we are stronger.
Feeling supported by knowing other people feel the same way has brought comfort and hope. Alliances between organisations are a promising sign for change.
Connecting on a deeper level where I acknowledge my emotions, really feel the grief and loss and let love in and flow out sustains me. I trust in the rising of consciousness of Human Beings where compassion, gratitude and love guide our actions. Without this deep love I think I might have given up hope.
What sustains you to take action for the sea?
What actions do you feel drawn to take?
Will you join thousands of people collaborating for a more beautiful world?
I am grateful for you reading this and invite you to join me in Natures Heart Intentions for the Ocean.
Liking and sharing are also actions for the ocean as this isn’t about me. I have prepared this out of my love for the sea.