Today marks the 40th international Earth Day, a day devoted to promoting the sustainable stewardship of our natural resources through education and awareness. However, ocean conservation seems to be low on the list of priorities for many. We think it should be the most important issue.
Despite its name, the vast majority of Earth’s habitable space is actually provided by our oceans, which cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface and stretch to abyssal depths. The oceans support untold biodiversity; in the region of 230,000 species have already been described, but the global Census of Marine Life, which has been conducted over the past decade, suggests this value may in fact be well over a million.
This vast marine biodiversity is one of our most valuable natural resources: entire communities depend on fishing to survive, as a source of both nourishment and income. Almost 3 billion people rely on fish as their main source of protein and global fisheries generate in the region of $90 billion annually.
<!–more–>Marine tourism also provides a substantial source of income for local communities as people travel across the world to experience the astonishing natural beauty of marine ecosystems firsthand.
The very habitability of our climate depends on healthy oceans as they help to regulate atmospheric temperature, global weather and produce much of our breathable oxygen. The truth is, without our oceans, the Earth as we know it would not be possible.
So yes, today is Earth Day, but really the oceans are such a massive part of the Earth perhaps we should consider a name change or at least a bit more focus on the vital role our oceans play in the life of this planet.
Why not start with a look at the five biggest threats facing our oceans and what you can do?