Growing up in Southern, California, for Dave the oceans was one of his first connections to nature. And Reese has been drawn to the ocean since the day he could walk. Together we share over 70 years of professional experience on the oceans.
The oceans provide numerous benefits including climate regulation, providing about half of the world's protein to humans, economic benefits through a variety of industry including seafood, transportation, and tourism, a valuable source of medicine, and recreation.
Despite the many benefits Oceans are facing vast extinction from multiple stresses according to several marine experts from around the world. Primary threats include: 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 of years. Acidic oceans dissolve sea life that contains hard exoskeletons i.e. oysters and lobsters. Climate change threatens the corals 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.
All of this puts the world economy at risk. The Stockholm Environment Institute found that these impacts on the ocean could amount to $2 trillion annually by 2100 with $639 billion of that being in tourism losses.
The good news is that tourism has a vested interest in becoming more sustainable and protecting coastal habitats and marine environments. Tourism accounts for over 10% of the world GDP and is responsible for the employment of about 12% of the world's workforce. If it unites around sustainable tourism, it will be a powerful force for positive change in our world.
Tourism businesses such as the Walt Disney Company, have helped us at Blue Community develop 12 strategies for coastal habitat and marine environment protection.
Walt Disney Company for the past several years has ranked in the top 100 corporations in both the U.S. and the World for green practices according to the Newsweek top 500 Green Rankings.
They have developed several significant policies and programs that serve as examples to others for more sustainable tourism. Some of these include goals to become a net zero carbon emissions Company, send zero waste to landfills, and to have a net positive impact on ecosystems with their development. Since these goals were set in 2008, they have already reduced net carbon emissions and waste to landfill by over 50%. The Disney Wilderness Preserve serves as a model for wetland restoration and offsets for development.
In regard to protecting the oceans, we have found Walt Disney Company to offer a good example for 12 strategies that the International Ocean Institute Waves of Change Blue Community program has developed for coastal habitat and marine environment protection.
The Twelve Blue Community Strategies include:
1. Improved building design
2. Promoting mass transit
3. Reducing energy use
4. Water Conservation
5. Waste Management
6. Reducing the Use of Plastics
7. Promoting local organic and hydroponic food
8. Promoting sustainable seafood
9. Clean Marina & Environmentally Friendly Cruise Initiatives
10. Protecting coastal habitat and cultural heritage
12. Planning, Policy, and Management
In the coming weeks we will expand upon these twelve strategies.
Through remembering our own personal connections to the oceans, coastal habitat, and marine environments, we can rekindle the love necessary to implement the sustainable tourism practices needed to protect our oceans and coastal habitat.
Blue Community Series Part 1 video
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