‘Ghost fishing’, paddle boarding and beach cleans: World Oceans Day 2018

‘Ghost fishing’, paddle boarding and beach cleans: World Oceans Day 2018
Plastic floating in the sea in the Firth of Forth, Scotland
World Oceans Day – coordinated by The Ocean Project every 8 June since 2002, and celebrated unofficially since 1992 – is today putting the focus firmly on change. The inescapable environmental issue of the moment is plastic pollution in our oceans, and just like World Environment Day on Monday, this is the main focus of 2018’s ocean promotion event.

While there have been technological advances made to try and clean up the seas – such as the Seabin and the Ocean Cleanup project, the major task is preventing plastic reaching the ocean in the first place. This means using less of it – especially single-use plastics – but also ensuring that what we do use is properly recycled or reused. Behaviour change is not easy and not always fun, but World Oceans Day is hoping to bring the issues to the forefront in an engaging way, placing an emphasis on the consequences of our current behaviours.

Bill Mott, Executive Director of The Ocean Project, explains why the event this year is focusing more than ever on youth: “We are seeing young people step up in huge ways to help lead the charge for positive change. We all need a healthy ocean to survive and young people are increasingly taking action now to conserve and restore this vital resource. With nearly half of the world’s population under age 25, it is imperative to empower young people to step up as leaders at an early age, and engage them in a solutions-oriented approach to ocean conservation.

“We believe that youth are the key to success and, for this reason, we are making youth engagement our top priority for growing the reach and impact of World Oceans Day on June 8 and year-round.”

Last year there were over 1,000 events held in 118 countries, and online the hashtag #worldoceansday made over 2.78 billion impressions on Twitter and Instagram combined. This year looks set to have a similarly far-reaching impact, with film screenings, barbeques, family-fun-days, online tutorials, community festivals and strong online campaigns going ahead throughout the day.

Beach cleans
There are a number of beach and river cleans going ahead tomorrow across the UK in Bournemouth, Bristol, Weston-Super-Mare, Glamorgan, and Cumbria, among many others. There are also clean-ups happening globally, notably in Venice, where litter in the city’s lagoons and many canals will be collected by hundreds of volunteers, with the event broadcast on television in a further effort to raise awareness and reach mass audience.

Underwater live streaming
Ever heard of ‘ghost fishing’? This is what lost fishing equipment does when snagged on a reef or a wreck – catches and traps fish with no human intervention. In Plymouth today divers from charity Ghost Fishing UK will be retrieving lost fishing equipment and other pollutants harmful to marine wildlife.

‘Ghost fishing’, paddle boarding and beach cleans: World Oceans Day 2018
A ghost net snagged on a reef
You can also experience what such a task entails from the comfort of your own home: from 2-3pm today, an underwater dive in Santorini, Greece, is being live-streamed on Facebook – watch as a team of divers remove ghost nets and waste from the Aegean Sea. The nets collected will then be cleaned and sorted by ocean cleanup organisation Healthy Seas, and then transformed into new textile products, such as swimwear, socks or carpets. The broadcast will be narrated and viewers are encouraged to send in questions and comments.

You will be able to to watch this live on the Facebook event page.

Message in a bottle
Making an extra loud splash are Carlos de Souza and Carolyn Newton, founders of new charity The Whale Company, who are paddling 300 kilometres along the River Thames from ‘Source to Sea’ on stand up paddle boards made out of plastic bottles. The pair want to raise awareness of the scale of plastic pollution in our waterways and deliver a ‘message in a bottle’ to Parliament. They met MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday, and have started their journey this morning – and are inviting anyone to join them on the way to the sea at Gravesend.

To discover more about how to participate and find events in your area, visit the World Oceans Day website.

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