THE BLOG
06/07/2013 11:22 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2013

Celebrate World Oceans Day: Together We Have the Power to Protect the Oceans

On June 8, 1992 I was fortunate to be at the first World Oceans Day celebration on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that was part of the Earth Summit.

In 2007 I coordinated the International Days Series World Ocean Day event that included a press conference, distinguished ocean panel, and concert with Kristin Hoffman, and Robert Avilles.

The Ocean Panel included:

  • Dr. David W. Randle, President & CEO WHALE Center, and Project Director
  • Ed Begley Jr., Actor and Activist see: Ed Begley Jr.
  • Dr. Noel Brown, President & CEO of Friends of the U.N.
  • Dr Vladamir Golitsyn, Dirctor UN Division of Ocean Affairs & Law of the Seas.
  • Dr. Frank Mueller-Karger, Director IOI USA and Profesor USF College of Marine Science.
  • Phillippe Cousteau, President & CEO Earth Echo International.
  • Dr Paul Boyle, President & CEO The Ocean Project.
The event was significant for three reasons:
  1. It demonstrated the strong appreciation people have for the ocean. At last year's Earth Summit Rio Plus 20, the oceans were a top agenda item. We have come a long way from the first Earth Summit where ocean issues were just emerging on the radar screen.
  2. It launched the International Ocean Institute Waves of Change campaign. Through this campaign, the Blue Community initiative has been born to promote coastal habitat and marine environment protection with a focus on the tourism industry.
  3. After our 2007 World Ocean Day event, Dr. Vladamir Golitsyn promised that World Ocean Day would become a U.N. observed day. The following year it was. By the resolution 63/111 of December 5, 2008, the UN General Assembly designated June 8th as World Oceans Day.
The world oceans day theme this year is "Together we have the power to protect the oceans."

In that regard, I join Ned Stone, Program Director of the Guy Harvey Outpost in encouraging you to join with family, friends, colleagues, and business partners to find the best ways you can contribute to protecting the oceans.

According to leading scientists, the ocean faces many global challenges that threaten marine extinction including ocean acidification, climate change, ocean pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices.

Ocean acidification is the direct result of increased carbon emissions making the oceans more acidic. This change in chemistry will bring about changes that have not been experienced for 300 millions years. Acidic oceans dissolve sea life that contains hard exoskeletons e.g., oysters and lobsters. Climate change threatens the coral reefs from bleaching, impacts on sea life, and changes in ocean circulation.

Eighty-five percent of ocean pollution is land based including oil spills, animal wastes, fertilizers that contribute to dead zones, and plastics. Because of their slow decomposition, plastics account for 90% of pollution in the oceans.

The oceans are being fished at a rate of over 40% more than the oceans can sustain. Promoting sustainable seafood choices is becoming more necessary each day.

Now that I have outlined some of the serious challenges to the ocean, I ask you to pause and take a deep breath. See if you can imagine a world where you could make a difference. Imagine that you could help the world better understand the oceans, reduce ocean pollution, restore ecosystems, repair damaged marine environments and replenish the oceans' resources.  
 
Can you imagine rebuilding the world's oceans and seas, valuable resources upon which so much of our existence depends?  Can you imagine taking on challenges such as climate change impacts, ocean acidification, and the bleaching of coral reefs?
 
As you continue to imagine, consider as one of our most precious assets, the ocean is indispensable to life itself.  It is the largest habitat for living things in our solar system and sustains our lives with over 50 percent of the earth's oxygen. "Without our oceans, we wouldn't be able to breathe; we wouldn't be able to eat; we wouldn't be able to live.'"
 
 The Ocean and coastal resources supply us with:  

  • A vital source of food -- The ocean is the primary source of protein for over 2.6 billion people worldwide; 
  • A source of employment and livelihood -- Economic activity resulting from the ocean indirectly and directly support 200-400 million people each year; 
  • Energy that powers the planet -- The oceans hold existing and potential oil and gas reserves for future energy use; 
  • A place for leisure and sports -- More than 200 million people visit coastal cities and countries each year;
  • A place to live -- Over half of the world's population live within 200 km of a coastline.

 Today, Ned Stone and I met at the Tradewinds Guy Harvey Outposts and discussed how we might collaborate so that the tourism industry can become more sustainable and do a better job at protecting coastal habitat and marine environments through programs such as the 12 Blue Community strategies.

For World Ocean Day we encourage you to find a way to celebrate the gifts the ocean has brought to your life. Some may want to spend some time at the beach or out on the water, visit an aquarium, learn more about the oceans through the Mission Blue online programs, or perhaps just take a moment to remember the many gifts of the sea. Check out other suggestions on how to celebrate World Oceans Day from the World Ocean Project.

Whatever you choose to do tomorrow to celebrate please join Ned Stone and I in spreading the theme for this years World Oceans Day: "Together we have the power to protect the oceans."

Dr David W. Randle -- Director USF Patel College of Global Sustainability Sustainable Tourism, Managing Director International Ocean Institute Waves of Change Blue Community Initiative, and President & CEO WHALE Center.

Follow David Randle on Twitter.