Protecting Our Oceans
Campaigning to end ocean exploitation and ensure a healthy ocean future
Healthy oceans are the life support system for our planet, providing 97 percent of the Earth’s livable habitat and a home to more than 700,000 species. The oceans are vital to human health as well, providing jobs, enjoyment and food to billions of people. Half of the oxygen we breathe is generated by our oceans.
© Paul Hilton / Greenpeace
Our oceans are in more trouble than ever before.
Right now it is estimated that up to 12 million metric tons of plastic – everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads – ends up in our oceans each year. That’s a truckload of trash every minute.
Traveling on ocean currents, this plastic is now turning up in every corner of our planet – from Florida beaches to uninhabited Pacific islands. It is even being found trapped in Arctic ice.
Our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup, and the effects on ocean life are chilling. Discarded plastic fishing lines trap and entangle turtles and seabirds, and plastic pieces of all sizes choke and clog the stomachs of creatures who mistake it for food, from tiny zooplankton to whales. Plastic is now entering every level of the ocean food chain and is even ending up in the seafood on our plates.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why we are campaigning to end the flow of plastic into our oceans.
We are calling on big corporations to act to reduce their plastic footprint – and stop producing excessive plastic packaging that is designed to be used once then thrown away.
We’re also working hard to address other serious threats facing our oceans. Unsustainable industrial fishing practices are destroying habitats and endangering countless species. Climate change and ocean acidification—both the result of our reliance on fossil fuels—are having more and more extreme impacts on ocean health.
Scientists say the wave of extinction facing the ocean in the coming century could be the worst since the dinosaur age. If we don’t change the way we do things—and fast—we are on track to cause irreversible damage to the ocean and the collapse of some of the most important food sources in the world.
Fortunately, we are within reach of a world that respects our oceans, their inhabitants and the people who depend on them.
Join the Fight to Defend Our Oceans
We see a world that is safe and healthy with vibrant oceans.
That’s why we are campaigning to end the flow of plastic into our oceans. We are calling on big corporations to act to reduce their plastic footprint – and stop producing excessive plastic packaging that is designed to be used once then thrown away.
We’re also working to protect the oceans through marine reserves. Globally, less than 1 percent of the ocean is under protection. We’re campaigning to establish marine reserves in 20 percent of U.S. waters by 2020, double what the country has right now.
These reserves will preserve biodiversity, help endangered species rebound, and give marine life a fighting chance to survive the rapid changes we are causing to the planet. Marine reserves can also help replenish fish populations decimated by overfishing, meaning a more sustainable food supply for all of us in the long run.
The way we treat the rest of our ocean—under protection or not—is just as important. Today, overfishing is the status quo, bycatch kills about 63 billion pounds of marine animals every year, and human activity is disrupting the balance of marine ecosystems across the globe. The impacts on humans are equally severe. Overfishing compromises food security and the livelihoods of fishing communities.
Global tuna fisheries are particularly out of control. They are emptying our oceans of fish, harming marine life, and exploiting workers. The tuna industry has repeatedly failed its customers on both ocean sustainability and human rights. The U.S. is the largest tuna market in the world—anyone can be part of the solution by wielding your consumer power and only buying (or encouraging your friends and family who eat tuna to buy) sustainable tuna.
We want a better future for our oceans and the people that depend on them. You do, too? Awesome! Check out the resources below to learn more about our campaign to the protect the oceans and ways you can get involved.