Oceans under threat: Protecting and preserving our maritime environments
From climate change and plastics pollution, to overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs, the world’s oceans are reeling from human activities that together are building up into a terrifying environmental disaster. The future of human civilisation is dependent on healthy oceans (especially as they cover 71 % of the Earth’s surface) and action needs to be taken now to safeguard their complex biodiversity for future generations.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green” – Sylvia Earle, oceanographer
Luckily, hearts and minds are finally starting to come together to face these mounting challenges as part of the broader environmental movement but the Herculean responsibility of preserving our oceans will have to be taken up by everyone.
Better knowledge and increasing awareness of how human activities impact the oceans will be key to facing these challenges. Because humans will need to keep interacting with the oceans just as they have done since ancient times. The oceans are an essential conduit for international transport and communications, they provide food for billions, support millions of jobs worldwide and have a key role to play in transitioning towards greener, more sustainable energy. The oceans also have a crucial role to play in the regulation of our climate and alongside the (also under threat) rainforests, provide the oxygen we need to survive.
The EU as an international actor has taken up the challenge of working to preserve our oceans and its policy priorities recognise not only the fundamental importance of the oceans and seas but also the sheer complexity of the problems that need to be addressed.
As always, sound policy is made with reliable evidence and innovative research. This is why our special feature this month is covering seven Horizon 2020-funded projects that are at the forefront of cutting-edge maritime research. From comprehensively studying how the Atlantic is being adversely affected by climate change, to preparing the fishing industry for future blue growth, and working out how unmanned drones can be utilised for better marine management, no stone is left unturned in the quest for truly healthier and more sustainable oceans.
From 23-24 October 2019, the annual prestigious ‘Our Ocean’ conference will be hosted by Norway, bringing together hundreds of policymakers, scientists, civil society and business representatives (and many other stakeholders) to discuss their experiences and identify solutions that will hopefully lead to concrete action to preserve and protect our oceans.
... because they’re the only oceans we have.
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