Food, work, fun, adventure, sport and life – not many things can give us all those things in one. Every day the oceans give us the air we need to breathe; the weather to grow crops; water to support the smallest to the largest animals on earth and 80% of all species; vast ice flows to help regulate our climate; millions of jobs and a life-time of pleasure.
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Our Oceans – fit for the future
You and I are alive right now because of the oceans. There is no other place in the universe so full of life as this planet; so green, so rich in diverse, beautiful, weird and wonderful, large and small species, on land and at sea and it is all because Planet Earth is Planet Ocean.
They are home to the largest animal our planet has ever known – the now-endangered blue whale - but there are still huge areas of ocean that humans have never seen. Biologists estimate that there could be anywhere between 500,000 and 5,000,000 marine species down there that have yet to be discovered.
Earth's longest mountain range is not on land but under the sea - the Mid-Oceanic ridge system, which winds around the globe from the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic. It is four times longer than the Andes, Rockies, and Himalayas combined!
More people have stood on the moon than dived the deepest ocean trench and less than 5% of all the oceans have been explored. There is so much more for us to discover.
They are home to some of the longest-lived animals on our planet – including the orange roughy (a fish that can live up to 200 years) and centuries old corals. They are silent witnesses to the huge environmental damage done over their lifetimes, damage which will have a significant impact on all our futures.
But, imagine if all those millions, maybe billions, of people who get food, jobs and pleasure from the ocean worked together to stop the overfishing and other ocean destruction.
Imagine what we could do together to be the change we want for the sea.
We can do it. Companies have changed their fish supply policies, destructive fishing practices have been banned, huge whale sanctuaries created – all because the voices demanding change could not be ignored. But now, in part due to the relentless march of technology, our oceans are being altered on a vast scale and at an unprecedented speed, meaning that many more of us need to be heard - and fast.
There is one big solution that is simple and affordable – the creation of ocean sanctuaries.
If we zone off about 40% of the oceans as protected areas – places that are special to marine life, such as important feeding and breeding grounds or areas where fish populations are already at breaking point - then we can give our oceans the breathing space they need to recover and keep our planet running.
It is estimated that governments would have to spend around US$15million a year to make it happen. We will spend fifteen times more on luxury good by 2015, than politicians will set aside for the safeguarding of the world’s most essential asset. Let’s change that.
The oceans support billions of us. If each of us did just one thing, we could change the future. We can make sure that in years to come our children can still enjoy clean sea, teeming with life. Setting up ocean sanctuaries now will give our children and us oceans of plenty in the future. It’s a big job but together we can create oceans fit for the future.