15 March 2023
There is a crisis brewing.
Plastic accounts for 85% of marine litter, with an estimated 11 million metric tonnes entering our oceans annually. If this continues, the volume of plastic in our seas could increase threefold by 2040.
The most significant and harmful contributing factor to ocean pollution, new research now links plastic to ocean acidification. Both plastic waste and acidification have detrimental consequences for all marine life.
Over 100,000 marine mammals and over one million seabirds are killed by plastic pollution each year, and a staggering 50% of marine species are currently at risk of extinction.
Coral reef ecosystems provide habitats for 25% of marine life. The largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, is home to 9,000 species of marine life. A recent plastic waste study on the reef has shown a chronic risk to marine organisms from plastic exposure.
Commercial fishing is responsible for 100 million pounds of plastic pollution entering the ocean each year from lost fishing gear, and overfishing results in a staggering 10 million fish discarded yearly.
So what can we do to reduce the volume of plastic entering our oceans? For starters, reduce our use of single-use plastics, recycle properly, participate in a coastal clean-up, and support legislation that helps with these.
The United Nations is helping pave the way for many of these efforts.
Here are a few of their initiatives.
The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development runs from 2021 to 2030. The UN’s vision is “the science we need for the ocean we want”, with success closely aligned to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
On World Water Day (March 22) we are reminded that it is time to protect our water resources. The UN World Water Conference will bring delegates together to find solutions for the multitude of questionable usages of water around the world. “Every Drop Counts.”
SDG 6 unites us in a quest for equality, health, and an end to hunger through better sanitation and water use.
On World Water Day the Water Action Agenda calls for an accelerated change to normal business and asks for a larger commitment from all parts of our society to combat dysfunctional water cycles.
The UN World Water Conference asks for ‘clear commitments, pledges, and actions across all our sectors, industries and interests, uniting nations, stakeholders and professionals.’ These proceedings will help deliver on previous UN water actions and should be ‘scaled and replicated’ to use far into the future.
SDG 14 implores the conservation & sustainable use of all earth’s oceans, marine life, & seas.
It is a fact that all of nature is interconnected and none more so than our waterways, seas, and oceans. By creating a ‘freshwater-costal-ocean continuum’ we address ‘the drivers of degradation in an integrated deliberate manner’ that benefits the whole of our water conservation efforts.
No action is too small or large as the UNAA NSW brings us together to find solutions for what we can do to conserve water and change our world to secure that governments, companies, and individuals commit to a bluer and cleaner planet.