The theme for this years’ World Oceans Day, celebrated globally on the 8th of June, is “The Ocean: Life and livelihoods”.
By 2030, it is estimated that 40 million people will rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, and the goods and services the ocean provides will be worth roughly $3 trillion USD! The oceans’ sustainable monetary contribution is even larger than the GDP of many nations; so much so that it is referred to as ‘the Blue Economy’. The ocean provides the food we eat, creates jobs, powers our cities through wind and wave energy, and produces about 50% of the air we breathe. It is also a crucial buffer against climate change – absorbing and storing roughly 30% of the carbon dioxide we produce.
Australian life is intrinsically linked to the ocean; our marine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spans three oceans and is the third-largest in the world, and an estimated 80%+ of Australians live along our coastline. Australia’s oceans are incredibly valuable, as highly biodiverse and unique ecosystems, which support beautiful marine life like our Burrunan dolphins. However, they are also highly productive economically, through things such as aquaculture, marine tourism, and maritime trade – contributing roughly $47 billion AUD in 2011-2012. This figure is expected to jump to $100 billion before 2025.
Because of this, it is incredibly important that our oceans are protected and healthy. Thankfully, there is a global push to protect 30% of our oceans in marine protected areas by 2030 – an ambitious goal given that only roughly 7.5% of the world’s oceans are currently under protection.
This magic 30% is thought to balance the needs of coastal communities, while also ensuring enough of the ocean is protected to prevent biodiversity loss.
In our recent April school holidays, our Marine Champions explored what marine protected areas are, how and why they are created, and why they are important; even putting themselves in the shoes of conservation managers to develop visions for how they could create and manage their own marine protected areas. We also explored the importance of the 30×30 vision, and for what reasons – environmental, social, and economic – we should strengthen the protection of our oceans.
This World Oceans Day, we invite you all reflect on, and celebrate, the many ways the ocean supports us, either directly or indirectly. We also hope you get involved with sustainability actions, whether they be local or international, to help ensure our oceans are healthy and protected for generations to come! Every small action can help make a big difference.
To learn more about World Oceans Day, click here!