Ship Shape: Celebrate World Oceans Day

Ship Shape: Celebrate World Oceans Day

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Turtle photo by Neil AtterburyThis Monday, June 8 is World Oceans Day! After many years and much effort on the part of oceans advocates, the United Nations declared June 8, 2009 as the first official World Oceans Day.

World Oceans Day provides us with an opportunity to recognize why the oceans matter to us. Unless we spend a lot of time in or near the ocean, it can be easy to think of the ocean as a vast blue “other” that has nothing to do with our daily existence.

In fact, our oceans and their health directly impact our lives. Most people are not aware that our oceans generate at least 50% of the oxygen we breathe. Every other breath you take is created by the ocean! The ocean also provides us with food in the form of fish, shellfish, and even plants like seaweed. It helps to regulate our climate and weather cycle and it even provides us with medicine. Of course, the ocean also provides us with a source of fun through activities like swimming and surfing and it is home to many wonderful species from giant blue whales to a vast array of tiny creatures like pygmy sea horses and beautiful sea slugs.

For all of these reasons it is important for us to protect our oceans and their health. Every day, millions of gallons of sewage, chemicals, toxics, garbage, and pollutants are dumped into our oceans from various sources like sewers, industrial plants, farms, and ships like cruise ships.

Our oceans are also at risk from climate change. At Friends of the Earth, we are working to protect our oceans in numerous ways including passing strong laws and regulations. At the federal level, we are working to get the Clean Cruise Ship Act reintroduced in Congress this year and we are also supporting H.R. 223, a bill to expand the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries off California’s Coast. In addition, we are supporting efforts to pass H.R. 21, otherwise known as Oceans-21. Oceans-21, a federal bill introduced by Congressman Sam Farr D-CA, would create a comprehensive national oceans policy for managing U.S. coasts, oceans, the Great Lakes and their resources. 

Stay tuned for updates on our continuing efforts to protect our oceans!