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Two Thirds of the Earth, One Day to Celebrate it!

World Ocean Day

It hardly seems fair that the world’s oceans, which make up much of the earth's surface and provide so much to support life on earth, are celebrated for only one day. June 8th was designated World Oceans Day in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to bring attention to ocean conservation issues, and it continues to be designated World Ocean Day annually.

Although about 12 percent of the Earth’s land surface is now under some form of conservation designation, less than 1 percent of the oceans and seas is protected. Our oceans, which we once saw as never-ending sources of bounty, are rapidly becoming overwhelmed by unsustainable fishing practices, coastal development, pollution, and climate change. Here’s a staggering consideration: 90 percent of the world’s big ocean fish – tuna, sharks, billfish - have disappeared, according to a ten-year study published in May 2003 in the journal Nature.

The oceans aren’t infinite. We’re learning that more each year as exploitation levels continue to rise and productivity continues to drop. If we’re going to save the oceans, we need to start thinking of them as finite resources which need to be considered as a whole.

More than $500 billion of the world’s economy is tied to ocean-based industries such as coastal tourism and shipping, and we rely on the ocean for global climate control and a significant portion of our daily protein. Next time you are out on the water, or enjoying some of the ocean’s bountiful resources, make a pledge to celebrate ocean conservation every day. To learn more about the state of our oceans, visit the pbs website "Journey to Planet Earth." Perhaps we should have named our planet Ocean instead of Earth.


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