Today is World Oceans Day, the day we celebrate all that the oceans give us. They provide humankind with food, jobs and the oxygen we breathe. If we are to survive on this planet, we need living oceans. However, decades of destructive fishing, pollution and energy exploration are pushing our oceans to the brink, while climate change is forever altering our oceans.
But there is hope. We can restore our oceans to health if we end overfishing and create a global network of marine reserves: wildlife sanctuaries at sea that are off-limits to fishing and other harmful practices. The oceans are the least protected part of our planet and that’s why Greenpeace is working around the world to defend our oceans and create more marine reserves.
The next big ‘oceans moment’ will happen in a few weeks at the Rio Earth Summit, where leaders will be able to agree an Oceans Rescue Plan that will begin the creation of the marine reserves network necessary to repair our oceans.
Greenpeace is already taking action around the world:
Greenpeace has for years been campaigning to stop a resort from being built near Cabo Pulmo, a marine reserve shown to increase fish populations in the area by more than 400%. Earlier this week, we delivered over 200,000 petitions from our supporters demanding the Mexican government stop the development, protect the waters of the Gulf of California and support sustainable tourism.
Europe’s industrial fishing fleets have already fished out most European fisheries. Right now, Europe has a unique opportunity to change its fishing laws with its Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is going through a once-in-a-decade reform. Yesterday, Greenpeace delivered 65,000 petitions to the German fisheries minister demanding a CFP that works for all Europeans, not just narrow fishing interests. Read more about the CFP here.
Greenpeace is not opposed to all fishing, only destructive fishing methods and overfishing. In Spain, we are working with small-scale fishing operations to increase their access to fishing grounds. Across Spain Greenpeace is working to give artisanal fishers a stronger voice in Spain and across Europe so that our children and their children can enjoy seafood and continue to fish responsibly.
Greenpeace is campaigning globally to end destructive fishing, especially in tuna fisheries. In New Zealand, Greenpeace is presenting two tuna brands which have made positive steps by not sourcing tuna caught using deadly Fish Aggregating Devices and choosing tuna caught using pole and line methods. Greenpeace supporters outside of supermarkets also demanded shoppers choose tuna from companies that won’t destroy our oceans.
The Antarctic Treaty already has the region’s land set aside as a place of peace and science, but fishing fleets, including Korean fishing operations, are encroaching on the region’s waters. Greenpeace yesterday launched a campaign to demand that Korea support the creation of a network of fully-protected marine reserves in the region. This is part of a global effort to save Antarctica.
After the Greenpeace ship Esperanza’s tour of Indian waters earlier this year, our office in India is delivering to the government there a detailed report on the state of India’s fisheries. The investigation, entitled “Safeguard or Squander”, shows that 90% of India’s fish resources are on the brink of commercial extinction. Greenpeace India today demanded that the government create marine reserves, needed to maintain the livelihoods of 15 million Indians reliant on fisheries for food and jobs.
For us at Greenpeace, every day is World Oceans Day and you can help.
- Demand that your supermarket and tuna brand source sustainable tuna. Look for tuna cans with “Pole and Line” or “Hand-Caught.”
- Ask your politicians and business leaders to support the creation of marine reserves. your voice here to tell governments gathering in Rio later this month to support marine reserves!
- Use less wasteful plastic. 80% of plastic pollution in our oceans comes from land-based sources
- Tell energy companies and governments to stop dangerous energy, especially in our fragile polar oceans.
- Learn about where your fish is from- is it from far away? How many of this fish is left? Knowing what you're eating an making the right decisions is important.
Richard Page is a Greenpeace International oceans campaigner based in the UK.