This week we are all encouraged to know our ocean as the world marks World Ocean Day on the 8th June. As Pacific Islanders, we have a strong connection to our oceanic continent. Our totems are largely sea or land animals, and our coastal communities practiced ‘taboo’ over their fishing grounds way before the outside world entered our sphere. We can be proud of our intimate connection with the natural world around us.
However, humanity has not treated our oceans well. They are in great trouble and urgent action is required.
As stewards of the Pacific Ocean, the largest of the planets ocean systems, we have a great responsibility to take up this challenge – for ourselves and for our children and future generations.
To the children and youth of our Blue Pacific continent, I say know your ocean. It is the source of life for so many of us. Human activity is damaging our marine resources and we must act now.
Garbage in our ocean
Each year, humanity pours its trash into waterways and rivers without a second thought of what happens after they discard their rubbish. Much of this ends up in the ocean, where, for example, more than eight (8) million tonnes of harmful plastic waste ends up annually.
The world’s five ocean systems have been likened to “lungs” for our planet. For our community of ocean states, the Pacific Ocean is a source of both food and income; it has connected us in the past, and continues to do so today. The ripples of our ocean reach the shores of four continents. These connections are essentially pathways through which rubbish end up in our ocean of islands.