Every second breath we take comes from the ocean. Healthy oceans are the life support system for our planet, providing 97 percent of the Earth’s livable habitat and a home to more than 700,000 different species of life.
Diver Joel Gonzaga of the the Philippine purse seiner 'Vergene' at work using only a single air compressor hose to the surface, in and around a skipjack tuna purse seine net, in the international waters of high seas pocket No1.
Ocean scientists believe there could be anywhere between 500,000 and 5 million species in the ocean that we haven’t even discovered. The oceans are vital to human health as well, providing food, enjoyment and livelihood to billions of people. In our region, Pacific Island states are deeply connected and inextricably reliant on ocean health for income and food security, while Australia’s ocean territory is one of the largest and most biodiverse of any country in the world.
Imagine a world where sustainable, small-scale, and subsistence fishers are given greater rights and access to the ocean to feed communities that rely on it, than the industrial-scale fishing industries that dominate the global consumer seafood market. A world where a third of the world’s oceans are protected from industrial activity to build resilience against a changing climate, and ensure species rebound and flourish into the future.
There has never been a more important time to step up our efforts to protect our oceans.
A growing human population and expanding culture of consumerism, is putting ever-increasing pressure on marine ecosystems. To meet this demand, the seafood industry is engaged in a destructive race to fish, where sustainability, and fairness is put aside in favour of maximum profits. The depletion of fish populations and habitat destruction is having a devastating impact on our ocean ecosystems and the hundreds of millions of people who rely on fish for food and livelihoods. Largely unexploited until very recently, the high seas and deep seas have become the extremes at which the increasing race for resources and commodification of nature is playing out.
Meanwhile, empty oceans are at risk of becoming dead oceans. Warming seas and ocean acidification due to climate change are compounded by pollution from industrial run-off and billions of tonnes of discarded plastics. If oceans die they stop providing us with all of the functions they currently support that are critical to life on earth – oxygen production, the storing and cycling of vast amounts of carbon that are critical in regulating our climate, food for millions and other myriad but essential, life-giving processes.