World Oceans Day: The Threats and The Opportunities for Our Ocean
What is World Oceans Day?
In 1992, Oceans Day was first declared following the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to to commemorate how important oceans are for the Earth and raise awareness to conserve our ocean. Then, in 2008, 8 June was officially designated as World Oceans Day, with a different theme each year.
Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet, produce at least 50% of the world's oxygen, are the main source of protein for more than a billion people, a home to more than one million aquatic species, and having 600 million people (approximately 10% of the world's population) live in coastal areas. The marine environment bears many dynamics that occur daily: as the place where living beings interacts, as the pool of natural resources, to the potential for economic activity that elevates human welfare every day. Oceans also act as 'the lungs of the planet', it provides the largest carbon sink which is a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change.
Ironically, oceans are now in danger. Oceans are becoming warmer, more acidic, contain less oxygen, and sea levels are rising. One of the main concerns is the global plastic pollution in the oceans which puts marine ecosystem in risk.
Many of these threats come from anthropogenic, or human-made, activities. We cannot avoid it, human activities while living in an area, and all supporting activities: economy, education, development, consumption, will result in environmental disturbances.
Knowing this, humans play a vital role in protecting and conserving the ocean. We can reconstruct and shapes our activities with the mindset of, how to minimize the negative impact on the ocean, or how can we include the marine protection agenda in our activities?
This involves the role of local communities, business, educational institutions, government, and tourism. However, this responsibility is not specific to those who are physically close to the ocean or live on the coast. Ocean is the estuary of all treated water coming from the city, even upstream, everyone can contribute to protecting the ocean. Therefore, this year's theme for World Oceans Day will highlight the ideas to revitalize oceans and everything it sustains. It includes many collective actions and cooperation at all levels. By bringing up the theme on "Revitalization: collective action for the ocean" for World Oceans Day 2022, the world seek to achieve the SDGs of Goal 14: Life Below Water.
Ocean on Global Agenda
In the global agenda, the issue of the sea is discussed in SDGs number 14: Life Below Water. With a goal: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
This goal was set to encourage more prudent marine management. Because nowadays, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution, and ocean acidification is having an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity.
Some of the goals include:
- Reduce Marine Pollution
- Protect and restore the ecosystem
- Reduce ocean acidification
- Encourage sustainable fishing
- Conservation coastal and marine areas
- End subsidies contributing to overfishing
- Increase the economic benefits from sustainable use of marine resources
- Increase scientific knowledge, research and technology for ocean health
- Support small scale fishers
- Implement and enforce international sea law
Marine environment management is discussed in the 2020-2024 National Medium-term Development Plan, there are several strategic issues regarding the marine environment such as the occurrence of marine pollution and the level of biodiversity loss at the ecosystem, species and genetic level. The policy directions presented by BAPPENAS, the Ministry of National Development Planning, regarding marine ecosystem management include:
- Sustainable Fisheries Development
- Integration of land and sea spatial planning
- Development of marine conservation areas
- Protection and preservation of marine biodiversity
- Rehabilitation of coastal areas and ecosystems
- Marine pollution & waste management
Indonesia also sets target to expand marine conservation areas from 23.4 million hectares to 26.9 million hectares.
As the largest archipelagic country, Indonesia has the potential to lead maritime issues. Coordinating Ministry for Maritime & Investment Affairs supports Ocean20 to be an additional new work stream at the upcoming 2023 G20 Summit.
Indonesia also involved in the development of blue economy principles. Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Republic of Indonesia will explain the achievements and strategies of the Indonesian government in managing the sea in a sustainable manner according to the blue economy principles, at the 2nd UN Oceans Conference (UNOC) World Marine Conference.
Ocean Challenges Across Indonesia
Indonesia is an archipelago country with abundant natural resources. 76% of Indonesia's area is ocean, making the water one of our most valuable resources. Ocean is also the key to many aspects of our life, one of such is economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030. However, there are numbers of challenges threaten Indonesia's ocean
- Coastal areas are facing pressures including increasing population, increasing economic activity and increasing demand for land, and limited land in the middle of the city. This causes widespread migration of people to coastal areas which changes the condition of the coastal environment and leads to overburden in the area.
- In coastal urban areas, e.g. Semarang, tidal flooding under enhanced land subsidence is a major threat for city development. Tidal flooding spreading on the low land and damaging the infrastructure. It also impacts the community, households and individuals simultaneously.
- In recent years, the marine debris issue – notably plastic waste in the oceans – has become world's main concern. Indonesia, turns out to be a country with the second largest marine debris production after China. With around 30-50% of uncollected waste discharged into the waterways, the amount of plastic waste enter the waterways is estimated to reach 400,000 tons/year
- As one of the largest oil-producing countries with international shipping traffic, Indonesia is vulnerable to oil spills. Bintan in Riau Island have annual cases of oil spills, which were excluded from tank cleaning and black waste disposal activities.
- Marine fisheries are currently exploited in an unsustainable manner, and this includes industrial fisheries. According to the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, 90% of Indonesian boats draw their catch from areas that are already overfished and overcrowded with boats.
What is the Simplest Action Can We Take to Help Saving the Ocean?
Many of the ocean problems will require the help from governments and businesses, but there are plenty of actions we can take that will make a big difference for the ocean.
- Reduce our carbon emissions. There are many ways to decrease the effects of climate change on the ocean by cutting our carbon footprint. Indonesia's NGO namely CarbonEthics is a platform where we can reduce our carbon footprint through blue carbon conservation.
- No single-use plastics. Plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent of marine debris, accounting for at least 85% of all marine waste. Many organizations fighting to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean. These organizations introduce the ocean clean-ups initiatives that are currently growing around the world and developing technologies to manage the waste collection.
- Reduce Pollutants in our daily activities. The use of chemicals in everyday life can cause these substances to be carried as pollutants in water bodies. As an estuary, the ocean receives a very high pollutant load every day. This can be avoided by choosing nontoxic chemicals and dispose of herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products properly.
- Volunteering on beach clean-ups. Now, many local organizations in coastal areas are promoted by young people and residents. The organization is mostly engaged in beach conservation and maintenance, including beach clean-ups activities. In this activity, trash on the beach will be picked up, separated and disposed of in a more appropriate way.
Written by Amanda Abiella Resmana and Elvira Apriana (The Water Agency)
World Bank Group. 2018. Hotspot Sampah Laut Indonesia, Synthesis Report.
Presidential Regulation. 2020. The National Medium-Term Development Plan 2020-2024.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 2017. Available from www1.undp.org
Ministry of National Development Planning, BAPPENAS. 2021. Kawasan Konservasi Pengelolaan Ruang Laut Dalam RPJMN 2020-2024.