Thursday, May 28, 2009

World Oceans Day - June 8

Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch.

With all the land-based activities of celebrations such as Earth Day, it’s easy to forget that there is an entire oceanic world that also needs our help.

The proposition to create a World Oceans Day was first made in 1992 at the Earth Summit by the Government of Canada. However, it took activists from Oceana, other conservation groups and ocean protection groups signing petitions by the thousands to “encourage” the UN to finally declare June 8 as official World Oceans Day. Finally, after 16 years of tabling it, the United Nations has acted. It was a long time coming.

A quote from the C.E.O. of Oceana, Andrew Sharpless.
“We applaud the United Nations for formally establishing a day for the other 71 percent of the planet.” Making World Oceans Day official will help us and other ocean groups to engage more people and to increase public support for efforts to reverse the declining health of marine ecosystems.”

The U.N. will organize events to be held on World Oceans Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Oceana is also working on a big event, planning its largest-ever celebration in 2009 in honor of the now official World Oceans Day.

Ways in which we can help our oceans: (taken from The Ocean Conservancy)
1. Not all fish are created equal: If you eat fish, choose sustainably harvested seafood, which helps keep fish stocks healthy and ensures that marine mammals aren't caught by mistake. Speak up at your favorite restaurant and let them know you'd like sustainable seafood on the menu. (To read about one man's plight to save fisheries and fish stocks in the North Atlantic, check out our recent post on Goldman Environmental Prize Winner Orri Vigfusson).

2. Get down and dirty: Help spruce up beaches and shorelines. Trash is unsightly and it threatens the lives of birds and animals that ingest it and get entangled in it.

3. Fishmongers beware: If you can't kick your fishing hobby, at least be sure to retrieve your lines right after you're finished angling. Just be careful not to tug too hard on snagged lines-they could disrupt habitats below the surface.

4. Drain your brain: Mapping out local drains will help you understand where things that get dumped end up. Illegal dumping into pipes that drain to the ocean or other waterways can severely damage coastal habitats.

5. Be a good guest: Enjoy the beach, but keep a respectful distance from wildlife, especially at night, when animals may be nesting.

6. Brag about it! Tell your friends and family about your ocean conservation efforts and get others involved.

7. Boat but don't gloat: Be responsible about fueling up and cleaning up. If spilled, a single quart of oil can create a two-acre oil slick. Releasing untreated sewage from a 20-gallon holding tank has the same impact as discharging several thousand gallons of treated sewage from a treatment plant.

8. Relax without guilt: Take vacations in places where locals are protecting endangered sea animals, such as sea turtles. Your financial support keeps conservation alive in areas that need it most.

9. Just say no: When shopping, decline plastic bags and take reusable ones with you instead. Too much plastic ends up in our oceans, where it can choke and drown marine life.

10. Use your voice: Join an online activist network such as the Ocean Conservancy, which makes contacting your legislators easy.

For more wet-n-wild ways to take action, visit the Ocean Conservancy.

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