#GivingTuesday: The Ocean Gives Us ….

Divers in San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico imageNo matter where we live, the ocean touches our lives every day. It gives us food, water, commerce, and recreation. It even provides some of the medicines that heal us and the air we breathe. It gives us oxygen, rain, food, excitement, joy, wonder, mystery and so much more. The most powerful component in ocean conservation is us! From everyday lifestyle changes such as ditching the plastic water bottles for reusable ones to taking part in Dive Against Debris surveys, our actions and our voice have the most powerful impact on the health of our oceans. Today as the world celebrates #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving, let’s give back to the ocean!

UK seas to gain 31 marine conservation zones

Ocean News

Campaigners dismayed that ministers rejected advice to create 127 zones, which are intended to protect ocean floors

See on www.guardian.co.uk

Global Partnership to Rescue our Oceans

“Many people look at the ocean and they see water but it’s not just water. It’s a living system that shapes the character of the planet” – Sylvia Earle

A new global alliance aimed at rescuing our oceans from destruction was announced by World Bank president Robert Zoellick at the World Oceans Summit in Singapore last February. Beside saving our oceans, this partnership is intended to coordinate marine conservation efforts between countries, private companies and international organizations.

Ocean Reef Park Sunset - Singer Island

The Global Partnership for Oceans is a growing alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector interests that will mobilize knowledge and financial resources to address threats to ocean health, resilience and productivity.

Oceans cover over two-thirds of the planet’s surface and represent a vital natural resource bank. Yet, they are facing serious threats – from overfishing to pollution that, if left unchecked, could threaten the stability of the ecosystem.

“The world’s oceans are in danger, and the enormity of the challenge is bigger than one country or organization. We need coordinated global action to restore our oceans to health. Together we’ll build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up,” Zoellick said in his keynote speech.

The success or failure of the partnership is likely to be determined by its ability to find funding. The partnership is committed to mobilizing at least $300m in catalytic finance and aims to use that to leverage another $1.2bn from businesses, NGOs and other institutions.

“The world needs a new philosophy. Not a philosophy of competition but a philosophy of cooperation. We survive or we perish together” Nana Nketsia, Regional Paramount Chief – Ghana

Conservation’s Dirty Secrets

The controversial Channel 4 UK TV programme “Dispatches: Conservation’s Dirty Secrets” highlights the lack of funding and interest in marine conservation issues.

On Monday 22nd June, I watched in dismay and with astonishment the TV programme “Conservation’s Dirty Secrets“. Dispatches reporter Oliver Steeds traveled the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organizations.

The film examines the way some big conservation charities are run, questions their priorities, corporate partnerships and the way they are alienating people. The film also stresses the danger of the “disneyfication” of environmentalism.

Coral reef in Ras Muhammad nature park Lolanda reef Red Sea Egypt imageBut as a diver the highlight of this programme was for me Oliver Steeds‘ trip to the Caribbean Island of Utila where he interviewed a Marine Biologist struggling to save local coral reefs.

“Oceans covers 71% of the world surface yet just 1% are protected zones and they account for a small fraction of global conservation spending.

We don’t have a very clear idea of what the state of the oceans is, primarily due to the lack of funding and interest in marine conservation issues”.

Steeds questions why it is so difficult to get funding for marine research. Many aspects of marine science are not really considered to be sexy. Sea creatures are victims of the fact we see them cold, slimy, and unappealing. The general lack of emotional connection with the ocean also contributes to the lack of interest in marine conservation.

But if scientific information about the state of our oceans is lacking, their decline is all too obvious. Pollution, over-fishing and ocean acidification all contribute to the silent collapse of our oceans.

Globally, 20% of coral reefs have already been destroyed and it is estimated that by the middle of the century half will have disappeared.

It is astonishing that we don’t really know what the state of our oceans is. The resources which we require for research and conservation are primarily being spent on land based conservation”.

Dr Peter Bridgwater, Chair of the Government Advisory Committee on Conservation, believes we must face the painful truth. Interviewed by Steeds he asked the provocative question which to me really shows the full extent of the issues our ocean planet are facing : “How many species can we get away with losing?”. Well the answer is simple to me: We can’t get away with losing any species!

Even though the Channel 4 UK TV programme “Dispatches: Conservation’s Dirty Secret” is very controversial and shows only one side of the story (the negative side that is), I think the main point to remember is that conservation works best at a local level. “Local people are integral to the conservation of a species or ecosystem. People need to see the benefits of living along side nature so that they are willing to play a part in protecting it. Involving local communities every step of the way has to be at the heart of conservation” commented one of the programme viewer and I can’t agree more. If we all take action locally, we can make a difference!

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