Cape Town - Ahead of World Ocean Day on Wednesday, the Two Oceans Aquarium has pledged its support to protecting 30% of the planet by 2030.
Celebrated on June 8, the day was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that year.
In 2002, The Ocean Project began to globally promote and co-ordinate the day with events taking place across the globe.
In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognised the day.
It said the focus for World Ocean Day 2022 is people from across the world being urged to add their voices to the growing demand for more protection of the planet as climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, and overexploitation threaten the diverse ecosystems.
According to Helen Lockhart, the conservation and sustainability manager at Two Oceans Aquarium, the “30x30” movement has already resulted in more than 90 countries committing to protect at least 30% of their land and ocean by 2030. South Africans are urged to join the #30X30NOW campaign and sign the online petition which calls for the South African government to support this global goal.
“South Africa currently protects almost 8% of its terrestrial area and just over 5% of the ocean and its coast through 41 marine protected areas (MPAs). In the same way that nature and game reserves protect the terrestrial plants and animals, MPAs serve to protect the ocean’s inhabitants, several of which are threatened with extinction.
“MPAs play a significant role in the protection of spawning and nursery areas that allow for fish species to recover from overfishing. They also provide safe havens for marine life to thrive, maturing into adulthood,” Lockhart said.
She said further benefits of valuable ocean areas include providing a home to rare and endangered species, allowing fish populations to increase in size, protecting cultural heritage connected to the oceans, providing recreational activities which promotes tourism, educational centres for learning, a foundation for research which in turn will result in absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide to assist in creating a buffer against climate change and create marine wildlife economy for sustainable job creation.
“While every day is an ocean day at the Two Oceans Aquarium, World Ocean Day is of particular importance in that it is a day on which the ocean receives global attention in the form of events, increased media attention, and increased public awareness.
“Besides supporting the #30X30NOW campaign and learning more about MPAs, individuals can take action in their daily lives to help protect the ocean,” Lockhart said.
She said some of the actions which can be adapted to everyday living are making sustainable seafood choices, supporting meat-free Mondays, checking your car’s tyre pressure – under inflated car tyres wear out quicker and shed more microplastics, increase fuel consumption and carbon emissions. You can also learn more about the ocean and ask your local representatives about ocean politics.
“Everything on the planet is connected through ecosystems, food chains and the intricate balance of life. To ensure a healthy ocean, with abundant life and a stable climate, it is critical that all elements – land, water, and ocean, are protected.
“The Two Oceans Aquarium calls on everyone to do their part in protecting the ocean – not just on World Ocean Day, but every day! The first step is to educate and inform yourself about the ocean and about the animals and plants which call the ocean home.
“The Aquarium offers so many opportunities to discover what the ocean is all about – through exhibits, education courses, campaigns, school group visits, and more.
“As Sylvia Earle said: ‘Knowing is the key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive actions. They might not care even if they know, but they can’t care if they are unaware’,” Lockhart said.
World Ocean Day aims to rally and unite people globally to protect, conserve and restore the blue heart of the world.
The day promotes collaborative action through its global network of youth and organisational leaders in more than 140 countries.
The collaboration provides free resources to enable organisations to take part in the celebrations of this day and to raise awareness of the ocean that connects us all.