World Oceans Day - 8 June

Posted on 2019-07-22 08:17:46


An article by Shirley Bell

The idea of a World Oceans Day was proposed by Canada in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and was celebrated unofficially. Then, in December 2008, the United Nations passed a resolution officially recognising World Oceans Day as a day that, all over the world, would focus on the environment of our oceans.

Last year, the day focused on raising global awareness of the damage being done to the oceans and to marine creatures by in the inflow of plastic to the oceans. During recent heavy rains in our province, exceptionally large amounts of plastic were carried into the sea from drains and rivers, much more than we would have thought possible and lethal for countless sea creatures. It is not only that larger creatures swallow plastic, mistaking it for food, but minutely small pieces of plastic are swallowed by even small marine animals, ultimately leading to a high death rate. The bodies of baby turtles cast ashore by currents have been found to contain lethal amounts of plastic. It is now also known that fish we consume can contain bits of plastic so small that we cannot see them.

People have become much more aware of the amount of plastic threatening our oceans, and consequently us, but this does not mean that their behaviour has changed. Plastic is still carelessly thrown away, often without even bothering to place it in a container so that it ends up in a dump. But, even in a dump, it will endure for up to centuries. The only solution is very strong of control of plastic, especially ‘once-used’ plastic.

This year, World Oceans Day has the theme “The Oceans and Gender”. Exactly what is visualised by this title is not clear on the many sites giving news of World Oceans Day 2019. Durban, however, has planned many celebratory events. Google the details. Among the activities are various beach clean-ups (with gloves and trash bags provided); screenings of the film, A Plastic Ocean, at several venues, including some beach cafes; and even surfing lessons at a reduced fee.

We have to become aware of every piece of plastic we use, especially plastic bags and wrappings. We have to equip ourselves with cloth bags instead of purchasing plastic bags for our groceries and use glass containers in our fridges rather than plastic wrapping.

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