Dr. Seemin Rubab
June 8th was celebrated as World Oceans Day. It is a new entrant to various days earmarked to sensitize stakeholders regarding environmental issues. If we think that oceans have no significance in the landlocked region like Kashmir valley, we are mistaken. They are connected to us through water cycle and they control our environment. The ocean currents regulate climate and weather. The ocean has a significant effect on the biosphere. Oceanic evaporation, as a phase of the water cycle, is the source of most rainfall, and ocean temperatures determine climate and wind patterns that affect life on land. The ocean and ocean issues know no boundaries. A coastal community might want to connect with a community upriver to draw awareness to pollution flowing through the watershed and into the ocean.
The Ocean Project, working in partnership with the World Ocean Network, has been promoting World Oceans Day since 2003 with its network of over 900 organizations and others throughout the world. These groups have been working to build greater awareness of the crucial role of the ocean in our lives and the important ways people can help. World Oceans Day provides an opportunity to get directly involved in protecting our future, through a new mindset and personal and community action and involvement – beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, film festivals, sustainable seafood events, and other planned activities help to raise consciousness of how our lives depend on the oceans.
World Oceans Day is an opportunity every year to honour the world’s ocean, celebrate the products and services the ocean provides, such as seafood, as well as marine life itself for aquariums, pets, and also a time to appreciate its own intrinsic value. The ocean also provides sea-lanes for international trade. Global pollution and over-consumption of fish have resulted in drastically dwindling population of the majority of species. Human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals, and important fisheries are being damaged by over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources. Increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.
We can celebrate the fact that we know so much more about our Blue Planet than ever before. We have sent submarines to the deepest canyons and sailed every part of the world, discovering new species and ecosystems – and how they are connected. We have seen how overfishing just one species can have devastating effects on an entire ecosystem and we understand the urgent need to protect our oceans. We can take direct actions and campaign to save our seas. Our ocean has a great wealth of diverse kinds of life but it’s in trouble. Climate change has already been linked to the killing of coral reefs. Coupled with destructive fishing practices, there is a dramatic decline in many types of fish and sea life we depend on.
There are important, easy actions each of us can take to help. Calculating our carbon footprints and looking for ways to reduce our role in climate change is a great step. Likewise, we can choose seafood that is abundant in supply and fished or farmed without harm to the ocean and coasts.
Since 2010 is being celebrated as International year of Biodiversity, this year’s theme focuses on our ocean’s great diversity of life and how we can all help in its conservation. Each of us relies on a healthy ocean with a rich diversity of life to provide most of the oxygen we breathe, much of the food we eat, as well as medicines and other essentials that we need to survive.
We can help make others more aware of the importance of the ocean in their daily lives by showing them ways to reduce their negative impact on the ocean, by reducing CO2 emissions. We may also host a river, lake, wetland, or underwater cleanup. We may enhance Jhelum river bank or shoreline with some native vegetation. Not only will this beautify the area, but it will help reduce storm water running into rivers, as well as reduce erosion.