When last have you and your family visited the ocean? With further easing of Covid-19 restrictions just announced in Grenada, now would be an excellent time to visit the ocean, either for a quick dip in the sea, or just to quietly gaze at the wonders and beauty of these important waters surrounding our island home, even as the world celebrates the oceans this week.
The oceans are an extremely important, and “World Oceans Day” was celebrated worldwide on Monday, 8 June 2020 under the theme “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”. That day also saw the beginning of the second annual “Sea Turtle Week”, where one of the 7 sea turtles are highlighted each day – along with the threats they face, to culminate on “World Sea Turtle Day” on 16 June 2020.
But oceans are not only significant for the diversity of biological life that exists there. The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface, and they hold 97% of our planet’s water and are a source of oxygen for breathing. They regulate our weather and our climate, help feed the world with a rich diversity of plants and animals and they provide life-saving medical compounds for Alzheimer’s and a variety of cancers.
Oceans are also vital to our economies as trade superhighways use the oceans (90% of trade uses sea routes) and are a source of millions of jobs linked to trade and tourism. Finally, oceans are also the stage for a growing range of new ocean-related economic activities and constant innovations. Here in Grenada, our ocean space is 80 times larger than our land space, and so we also depend on the ocean’s bounty in many ways, and most of us live within a few miles of the sea.
However, oceans are facing unprecedented pressures from factors ranging from pollution to climate change. World Oceans Day reminds us to focus on the pressures that we place on oceans, and what we can do to address and reduce those pressures.
Plastic pollution is one of those pressures that has been highlighted worldwide. Much has been said about the damage caused by plastics in the ocean. On Monday, 15 June 2020, as our beloved Leatherback Sea Turtle is celebrated, advocates will focus on the plastic pollution that devastates the species.
In Grenada, we are also tackling plastic waste, as this is one way to address this pressure to help improve the health of oceans. The Ministry of Climate Resilience, Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management has worked with key partners Blue Lab, UNDP and the World Bank and local stakeholders, to take concrete actions over the last two years to drastically reduce the Styrofoam and single-use plastics entering Grenada with a view to reducing the potential of Styrofoam and plastics making their way into our oceans. In addition, Fisheries Division has worked tirelessly within Grenada’s marine managed area’s (MMAs) and marine protected areas (MPAs) to help restore and rehabilitate key nearshore marine biodiversity to support our local economy. Action in the MPAs has been shown to have direct benefits both the fisheries and tourism sectors.
So, while we go about our lives, even as we try to return to more normal routines, we must remember to show support for our oceans. Visit the coastline and take some time to reflect on the importance of the ocean for us. In Grenada, we must also challenge ourselves to reduce our plastic intake by using paper and cloth bags for grocery shopping, and to invest in reusable utensils in place of single-use plastic utensils. Please check out our “Plastic Free Grenada” pages on Facebook and Instagram for more information as we keep you updated on initiatives and collaborations to save our oceans, not just for our Leatherback sea turtles, but for our future generations!
Ministry of Climate Resilience