World Oceans Day 2018
Related media content
The World Oceans Day (WOD) is celebrated annually on 8 June and has a history spanning over two decades. It was originally proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since then, WOD has been coordinated internationally by the Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with global participation. It was officially recognised by the United Nations in 2008, and is observed by all member states including South Africa.
South Africa is a maritime nation with jurisdiction over one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world. It is uniquely surrounded by three ocean spaces (the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans) offering a resource-rich and biologically diverse environment. Our oceans represent a significant asset for current and future generations. Furthermore, our oceans and coastal areas support a growing tourism industry as many citizens and international visitors flock to our shores to engage in recreational activities such as swimming, diving, whale-watching etc. Globally our oceans represent 99% of the living space on planet Earth by volume and absorbs up to about 30% of carbon emissions thereby buffering the impacts of global warming.
The oceans are vital to human survival and economic development. The protection of ocean ecosystems is the cornerstone of sustainable ocean development, underpinning many economic opportunities that provide significant job creation and livelihood security. Approximately 40% of South Africa’s population lives within 100 km of the coastline and coastal resources are relied on for commercial opportunities as well as for food, recreation and transport.
However, in order to realise the full socio-economic potential of our ocean resources, it is necessary to strengthen management efforts to control negative human impacts on our ocean resources. The United Nations (UN) has identified pollution, especially pollution originating from land, as a one of the “big stressors” to the health and integrity on marine ecosystems. Globally, it is estimated that roughly 80% of all marine pollution stems from activities carried out on land. South Africa participates in the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Environment from Land-based Activities (UNEP GPA), which has identified litter as one of the key sources of pollution in the ocean environment.
The SA Agulhas II will be undertaking a research and training cruise under the auspices of the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2). IIOE-2 is a 5 year programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC).
The Programme seeks to conduct meaningful research across the whole Indian Ocean in an attempt to understand how the dynamics of the Indian Ocean influence global change and climate, its impacts on humans and its socio-economic potential. More importantly the IIOE2 seeks to develop infrastructural and human capacity, particularly for the African continue to enable the population along the African coast to be able to understand the dynamics and processes of the Indian Ocean immediate to their region and find mechanisms to withstand natural disasters emanating from the ocean.
The international theme for the 2018 World Oceans Day is “Prevent Plastic Pollution and encourage solutions for a healthy ocean.” Plastic pollution is a worldwide problem that affects human health and safety, endangers marine wildlife and costs states and nations countless millions in wasted resources and lost revenue. Globally and locally, plastic and synthetic materials are the most common types of marine litter that cause the most problems for marine animals and birds.
Plastic in the oceans eventually moves up the food web, from plankton to larger animals and as it moves up in the food chain, toxic chemicals get more and more concentrated and pose serious danger to humans and top predators since they are at the top of the food chain. Plastic pollution is therefore a complex environmental challenge that requires joint efforts at the local, regional and global level.