Protecting our ocean

Fred Wesley | Tuesday, June 6, 2017
THERE is hope that the Ocean Conference which starts today in New York becomes a game-changer to reverse the decline in the health of oceans for people, the planet and prosperity. That is what the United Nations hopes for.
Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley

We have a special seat from today as co-hosts with Sweden at the city that never sleeps.

Sweden says the two countries have forged a great partnership for the conference.

At a Pre Ocean Conference briefing in New York yesterday, its deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin said Fiji and Sweden had been great partners.

She said it was fantastic that the two countries which sat on almost opposite sides of the world could come together to ensure the protection of our oceans.

The UN says the conference will be solutions-focused.

It will coincide with World Oceans Day which falls on June 8, to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

World Oceans Day is a day set aside to celebrate and honour our oceans. We should be looking at it as a day to take action to protect our oceans and marine life.

The day is observed around the world with various activities. There are festivals, beach clean-ups, presentations, concerts, drama and entertainment.

Workshops and awareness campaigns urge people to conserve water, protect waterways, fight pollution and keep waterfronts clean. The Ocean Conference and World Oceans Day will have different meanings for different people in different countries. But surely, we can never get past the fact that for decades, we have used our oceans as dumping grounds, ignoring the reality that in time, this would come back to haunt us. Today we know better.

Like many things in life, after years of ignorance, or knowingly shirking our responsibility, we realise our oceans have an important role to play in determining our future. In Fiji, the heavy dependence on plastics, for instance, has proven detrimental to the life of the sea around us and our coastal shorelines. Much of what we use is now been washed out to sea because we choose ignorance, lack of concern for our environment and selfishness. We need to take ownership of our waterways.

Let us show off this very important part of our lives and let us ride on the momentum built by our hosting of the Ocean Conference with Sweden.

Let us maximise the potential of the sea around us and work together to ensure our oceans are healthy.

Let us help our young people to value, protect and be interested in our oceans and marine life.

Obviously plastic pollution in our oceans is but one of our many challenges created by the change in our lifestyle. Let us make it a point to learn as much as we can about how we can protect our oceans.

We could opt for non-plastic bags at the supermarket, or volunteer to clean up our shorelines.

Let us stop littering when out on a picnic in our many beaches around the country. Let us encourage family members to be mindful of where they throw their rubbish. Learn to appreciate our beaches and marine life.

Let's make a difference now for the sake of our future generations. We need to drive change.

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