Pollution and overfishing under the spotlight on World Oceans Day

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World Oceans Day is marked annually on June 8 (Photos courtesy Ruleo Camacho/Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs)
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Kenicia Francis
[email protected]

World Oceans Day is an important day dedicated to raising awareness about the crucial role oceans play in our lives and the need to protect and conserve them. 

“Every June 8, World Oceans Day is commemorated as a reminder that we ought to honour and protect our oceans.”

“[It was] proposed at the 1992 Earth Summit but was officially recognised by the United Nations (UN) in 2008. This special day highlights the oceans’ critical role and the urgent issues they face, like pollution and overfishing,” said Shenequa Williams in an article posted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs’ Facebook page.

The article explains that the 2024 theme “Catalysing Action for Our Ocean and Climate” focuses on the importance of sustainable practices to protect marine health. 

Oceans, covering 70 percent of Earth, produce over 50 percent of the world’s oxygen, absorb 30 percent of human-made carbon dioxide, and support three billion people’s livelihoods.

It also states, “Antigua and Barbuda exemplify oceans and their biodiversity conservation by taking action. Known for its coral reefs and marine life, the country has restricted the importation of single-use plastics since 2016 and established the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Ecosystems Protected Area (ABMPA), safeguarding over 3,000 hectares of vital marine habitats.”

Some ways people can help from home include reducing plastic use, supporting sustainable seafood practices, participating in beach clean-ups, and spreading awareness about ocean conservation. 

To reduce plastic waste effectively, we can start by using reusable bags, bottles, and containers, avoiding single-use plastics, recycling properly, and supporting businesses that offer plastic-free options. 

To practice sustainable fishing, it’s essential to follow guidelines such as respecting catch limits, avoiding overfishing, using selective fishing gear, and supporting fisheries that prioritise conservation. 

These practices help maintain fish populations and protect marine ecosystems for future generations. 

Selective fishing gear works by targeting specific species while minimising the catch of non-targeted species. 

This helps reduce bycatch, which is the unintentional capture of marine life like turtles or dolphins. 

Selective gear includes devices like circle hooks, fish excluder devices, and escape panels in nets. 

These tools allow fishermen to catch their desired species while protecting other marine life. 

Escape panels in nets work by allowing smaller or non-targeted species to exit the nets through specially designed openings, while retaining the desired catch. This helps reduce bycatch and promotes sustainable fishing practices by minimising the impact on marine ecosystems. 

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