Today is World Oceans Day. Nearly 97% of the water in the world is made up by oceans and concern for them is growing. Due to climate change and population growth, the world oceans face difficult times. The oceans are full of anthropogenic pollutants – phosphorus, nitrogen, and marine litter. It is believed that if people do not change their actions with regard to the oceans, then in a couple of decades, there will be more litter in the oceans than fish.
At the Ocean Conference currently taking place in New York, high-level discussions are being held on how to improve the state of the world oceans. As a result of the conference, a plan for the protection of the world oceans will be created. The plan is much more extensive than ever before and applies to all countries.
Yesterday, Marko Pomerants, Minister of the Environment and co-chair of the conference, spoke of the main problems from the perspective of Estonia. According to Pomerants, it is necessary to combat pollutants and marine litter more aggressively than before as well as to prevent pollutants harmful to human health from getting into fish and thereby, our dining tables. In addition, it is necessary to prepare for the rising sea level, increasing temperature, and for the decreasing oxygen level in water. ‘Having operated by the Baltic Sea, we have learned a lot. We know what is bad and we try to improve the situation. We want to and have to share this knowledge also with other countries, primarily with smaller waterlocked countries, which are in the greatest danger due to the changes in the oceans,’ said Pomerants.
To protect the state of the oceans, a common agreement between all countries will be created as a result of the conference to implement concrete protection measures. This agreement will include a list of activities that all countries should carry out as well as a call to help the countries whose abilities to improve the state of the marine environment are limited due to climate change and other worldwide issues.
This conference on the sustainable development of the world oceans organised by the UN is the first of its kind, as in the past, no worldwide goals have been set for this purpose and nothing of this scale has been done to improve the state of the world oceans.
• Nearly ¾ of the area of the globe is covered by the seas. This is 97% of all water on Earth, thereby being the largest habitat in the world.
• More than 3 billion people depend on the sea and coastal waters, as this ensures their income and main living conditions.
• The annual value of marine resources is equivalent to approximately 3 trillion dollars, i.e. about 5% of total global economic production.
• Approximately 200,000 different species have been defined in the oceans, but the actual number of species may reach millions.
• Approximately 30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) also reaches the oceans, which contributes to global warming.
• The ocean is a major source of protein; over 3 billion people receive their main protein from the sea.
• Marine fishing provides employment directly to more than 200 million people.