As the COVID-19 pandemic gives our oceans a break from relentless overfishing, pollution and harmful tourism, now is the time to secure a sustainable future for our blue planet.
The lockdown measures have led to an unprecedented decrease in pollution and CO2 emissions around the world. As a result, canals in Venice have cleared up and fish stocks are recovering. If we act now, we can use the current crisis as an opportunity to change the way we treat our oceans for good.
But how do we get there?
Since the start of the pandemic, shipping activity has fallen between 20 to 50 percent in China. As a result, oil pollution declined, enabling our oceans to recover from years of pollution. With so many vessels stuck in the docks, we’re presented with an unique window of opportunity to fit our ships with fuel-efficient engines and transform transportation for good.
Another way to purify our waters is by creating regenerative seaweed farms like this one:
Silence in the seas
In addition, due to the lack of shipping, underwater noise has dropped 4 to 5 decibels, showing a 15 percent decrease since January. Because whales and other marine mammals are normally disrupted by the transport-related noises, this is great news for all marine life.
A new ocean economy
But transportation overseas isn’t the only thing that has been put on hold. As both industrial fishing and marine tourism have come to a standstill, now is the time to create a sustainable ocean economy.
First and foremost, the world needs to work together to put a stop to relentless overfishing and refocus investments towards sustainable fishing practices. Because if we don’t, the seas will be empty by 2048.
Greener blue tourism
Another crucial factor in ensuring a healthy future of our oceans is changing the way tourism works. Before Corona, ocean tourism was valued at $390 billion, making up a significant portion of GDP for many nations around the globe. However, the unsustainable practices were rapidly depleting the habitats of sea mammals and severely damaging marine ecosystems altogether.
Without holidaymakers, ocean life has gotten a much deserved break. In Thailand, the endangered Leatherback turtle has managed to build a record number of nests. And in Australia, scuba diving companies are replanting coral in an attempt to regenerate marine biodiversity. By shifting towards more sustainable tourism practices, we can continue to give our oceans some breathing space once the crisis is over.
No excuse for single use
Last but not least, we need to talk about plastic. Although PPE equipment protects us from COVID-19, if we’re not careful, our oceans will ultimately end up paying the price. Let’s use reusable equipment such as masks wherever and whenever we can and prevent littering. Because organisations such as 4Ocean and Seabin, who remove hundreds of thousands of kilos of plastic from our oceans every single year, already have a hard enough job as it is.
What you can do
Do you want to help turn the tide and contribute to clean, silent, healthy and biodiverse oceans? Here are a few things you can do:
- Consume less, shop locally, buy things second hand and embrace the concepts of sharing and renting. That way, you’ll minimise ocean transport
- To prevent overfishing, try to eat more vegetarian and vegan food. Fancy eating fish? Stay away from endangered species and choose a brand like Fish Tales that ensures sustainable fishing practices
- Looking to explore the oceans on your next holiday? Go for a sustainable tour operator. That way, future generations can also continue to enjoy our blue planet
- Ready to become a plastic hero? Avoid single use plastics, try shopping zero waste and organise as many (beach) clean-ups as you can
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