Protecting Our Oceans

For centuries, people have assumed that our vast ocean was limitless and immune to human impacts. It’s only recently that scientists have come to understand the devastating effects we’ve already had on our seas.

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 – end 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 in the deepest part of the ocean and trapped in Arctic ice.

Our oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup, and the effects on ocean life are devastating. 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 single-use plastic into our oceans.

We are calling on big corporations to act to reduce their plastic footprint – and stop producing plastic packaging that is designed to be used for just a few minutes before it ends up in landfills, incinerators and out polluting our environment for a lifetime.

We’re also working hard to address other serious threats facing our oceans. Unsustainable industrial fishing is 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. Today, overfishing and 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. Human trafficking and forced labor remain huge problems on many fishing fleets.

We’re also working to protect the oceans through a network of sanctuaries. Globally, less than 2 percent of the ocean is under protection. We’re campaigning to establish ocean sanctuaries in 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

These sanctuaries will preserve biodiversity, help endangered species recover, and give marine life a fighting chance to survive the rapid changes we are causing to the planet. Ocean sanctuaries can also help replenish fish populations decimated by overfishing, meaning a more dependable food supply for the billions of people who get some of their protein from seafood.

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, if we work together we are within reach of a world that respects our oceans, their inhabitants and the people who depend on them.

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 protect the oceans and ways you can get involved!

Campaign Issues

Greenpeace USA debunks popular myths about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during the Arctic Sunrise ship’s expedition in October of 2018. Learn why cleanup proposals and more recycling are not enough to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.

Plastic waste is everywhere, choking our oceans and waterways. It’s time to take action.

The corporations that produce these plastics tell us to recycle, but that won’t solve the problem alone. We’re working together to create the world we want through a Million Acts of Blue.

Meet the artists behind the plastic monster used to demand that Nestlé end its reliance on single-use plastic. See how the artists made it out of single-use plastic litter in North Carolina, before delivering it to Nestlé headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.