People Marched for the Ocean All Over the World!
by Sybil Bullock
June 21, 2018
World Oceans Day celebrations spanned from the Philippines and Europe to South America, the Caribbean, and North Africa! The fight to protect our oceans is indeed a global struggle, with people pushing forward with solutions all over the world. Meet the activists turning the tide to save the ocean!
Earlier this month, the first ever plastic-free March for the Ocean drove 3,000 people to march past the White House in Washington D.C. United in opposition against offshore oil drilling and single-use plastic ocean pollution, these activists had three main demands: corporate accountability for plastic pollution, improved protections of our coastal communities, and a healthy ocean and clean water for all.
“The March for the Ocean reflects people’s determination. We are not going to tolerate offshore drilling or the tsunami of ocean plastic pollution. We are not going to allow coasts to be destroyed by the impacts of climate change. We are going to defend what we depend on. Our little blue marble is not going to be turned into a gas station or a garbage dump. This is our source of life, and we are determined. We will continue to march and vote. The ocean is rising and so are we!” – David Helvarg, Executive Director of Blue Frontier Campaign and lead organizer of the March for the Ocean
But Washington D.C. was not the only place that held a March for the Ocean. Over 100 sister marches took place, including in Boulder, Coney Island, Charleston, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach, among many more. Outside of the United States, ocean rallies, marches, and advocacy events held in honor of World Oceans Day spanned from the Philippines and Europe to South America, the Caribbean, and North Africa! The fight to protect our oceans is indeed a global struggle, with people pushing forward with solutions all over the world. Check out some of our favorite images below!
Para la comunidad Latinx y a todos que hablan español, aquí tenemos una recapitulación sobre la Marcha de los Oceanos en Washington, DC! (For Latinx folks and Spanish speakers, here’s a good recap video of the March for the Ocean in Washington DC!)
11-year-old beach cleanup activist Flossie Donnelly led some 400 marchers outside of Dublin, Ireland in a call for a “Plastic-Free Irish Sea.” As Flossie thanked people for coming, she said: “We can make a big difference to the health of our oceans by making a few small changes. Use reusable coffee cups and drinks bottles and refuse plastic straws. We should also ask our politicians to do more to reduce plastic packaging.”
Camy Mathlouthi, founder of Pour Une Tunisie Propre et Verte (“For a Clean and Green Tunisia”), and her loyal activist crew – composed of her German language students and prominent environmental activists like Intissar Hafsi – descended on the Mediterranean beach of La Marsa to rally against single-use plastic with a beach cleanup and plastic-free iftar picnic to break their fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan. In a smaller coastal town further south called Monastir, marine advocacy group Notre Grand Bleu (“Our Big Blue”) organized an underwater and beach clean up in celebration of World Oceans Day. Their event collaborated with the National Institute of Marine Science and Technology to educate participants on ocean plastic pollution and its effect on sea turtle health.
In Grand Bahama, a collection of local organizations hosted a 4 mile beach cleanup and march thanks to Coral Vita, Save The Bays, The Bahamas National Trust, Earthcare, GB Nature Tours, and others. Over 100 participants joined at Williamstown Beach, picking up approximately 70 bags of debris along a well-known tourist route.
In Rio de Janeiro, around 100 people gathered to march near the neighborhood of Leme, bringing tourists and residents together. The Marcha Pelos Oceanos marched in favor of Senate Bills 92 and 263. Bill 92 demands that all single-use plastic in trays, plates, cutlery and cups be phased out within 10 years and replaced with biodegradable materials in any items intended for ready-to-eat foods. Bill 263 proposes a ban on the distribution of single-use plastic straws, plastic bags and microplastics in cosmetics in Brazil.
In the UK, March for the Ocean London organized a sister rally from Portland Place to Leicester Square. The march featured speakers Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, and Maddie Danzberger, a 16 year-old high school student who founded the nonprofit “I Heart Clean Water” after witnessing plastic pollution on a camping trip. The march was supported by the One Less Campaign, and marchers were encouraged to download and use the app, which identifies free refill points in the city; thereby encouraging reusable bottles.
In the Phillipines, a local plastic pollution advocacy group called Plastic-Free Bohol gathered around 65 activists and marched almost 12 miles from Tagbilaran City to Alona Beach in celebration of World Oceans Day. Plastic pollution in Bohol has recently become a more prominent issue as local governments are beginning to ban plastic bags. During their beach cleanup, Plastic-Free Bohol activists picked up close to 9 pounds of cigarette butts. 95% of cigarette filters are made out of plastic, too – yuck!
Ocean health is about more than happy whales, dolphins and sea turtles. As you can see, people around the world are central to environmental issues like plastic pollution and offshore drilling, and this cannot by ignored or forgotten. Yes, whales matter – but so do people.