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April 22, 2013

Seeing Blue: Celebrating Earth Day

© OCEANA / Juan Carlos Calvín


Arthur C. Clarke once said: “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”

He wasn’t off mark. Did you know that, in terms of volume, the oceans occupy 99% of planet Earth? That’s why we wanted to honour this Earth Day by celebrating our incredible, mysterious oceans.

We believe that one of the reasons it is so difficult to raise public awareness about the need to protect the ocean is because people don’t see what’s below its surface. But there are forests, and meadows, mountains and valleys, towering volcanoes and gentle slopes hidden beneath the waves; and like their land counterparts, they are teeming and bursting with life.

Unfortunately, years of mismanagement, destructive fishing, and pollution are taking their toll. From the Baltic, where excessive eutrophication (mainly from polluted runoff from agriculture and industry) has created dead zones where no life can survive, to the Arctic, where countries are in a race to drill for new resources, and from the Mediterranean where swordfish are still fished without any limits to the Atlantic, where almost 50% of fish stocks are overfished, we are pushing our oceans and seas to the brink.

This year’s Earth Day theme is climate change – a phenomenon that also affects the oceans, and thus, the food source of billions of people across the globe. Though rainforests often boast the title of “lungs of the earth”, the truth is that oceans are. They absorb over a quarter of all carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, as more greenhouse gases get released, the balance of the oceans shift leading to many problems including ocean acidification and coral bleaching, both of which have devastating effects on critical habitats.

There are so many ways to reverse the damage we have brought onto our planet, but in order to do so we must educate ourselves and our representatives so that the right decisions can be made. That is our Earth Day pledge – to keep working our very best to restore our oceans so they can provide food, jobs and joy to generations to come.

What’s your pledge?