Monday, June 8th is World Ocean's Day and in Washington, DC this entire week is Capitol Hill Oceans Week ("CHOW"). With the economy on everyone's mind, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the economic benefits that the oceans provide us.
Here are some surprising, but important ocean facts:
-- The U.S. ocean economy provides more jobs and more economic output than the entire farm sector.
-- Each year, the oceans contribute more than $230 billion to the Nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
-- Over 2 million jobs and over $128 billion come from ocean-related tourism and recreation and from living marine resources, which in turn are dependent on clean water and beaches, abundant fish and shellfish and plentiful marine life.
When ocean ecosystems are degraded as a result of pollution, overexploitation, habitat loss or other adverse impacts, the ocean economy suffers. For example, Long Island's economy lost more than $60 million in economic activity and state and local sales taxes in 2007 when pollution closed local beaches. And economic values increase with healthier ecosystems. For example, a 2005 study found that rebuilding fish populations would result in triple the net economic value of catch levels of depleted fisheries.
Individuals can make a contribution to healthier ocean ecosystems by taking steps in their own lives to eat more sustainably and to urge governmental action to protect the ocean.
Join NRDC in recognizing this holiday:
1) Check out our new healthy & sustainable seafood guide that, among other things, provides 7 simple tips for people to use when they shop or eat out.
2) Watch this sneak peek of NRDC's upcoming ocean acidification film. Acid Test: The Challenge of Ocean Acidification features Sigourney Weaver and airs on Discovery Planet Green this summer during their Blue August month.
3) Sign this letter to Congress telling your representatives you want a national Healthy Oceans Act. Such an act would establish a national policy to protect, maintain and restore the health of our ocean ecosystems. We need a law like this in order to provide a coherent framework for managing the many activities that affect the health of our oceans. We have a Clean Air Act for our air and a Clean Water Act for our waters. We need a Healthy Oceans Act to protect our oceans.
As we celebrate World Oceans Day, let us remember the great bounty that the sea provides us and our responsibility to be good stewards of this great public resource.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's blog.