Is it Too Late to Save our Ocean?

On the closing weekend of COP26,  David Jones Founder and CEO of Just One Ocean gave a talk at the Kenton theatre on the fragile state of our ocean. The event was hosted by the local singer-songwriter Purdy who has a passion for raising awareness on environmental issues.

David has spent many years underwater as a scientist, professional diver and photographer. The photos shared during his talk were inspiring and shocking; majestic whales to floating islands of rubbish. He has witnessed the damage and devastation happening to marine habitats; seascapes he visited 10 or 20 years ago are now changed both above and below the sea.

David’s love of all things marine was his motivation for setting up Just One Ocean – a charity whose mission is to protect the ocean for future generations through science, education and communication. So his talk focused on the main problems facing the ocean; warming sea temperatures, over fishing and plastic pollution. The real strength of his talk was the recognition that there are multiple threats to our ocean. Just as there is a triple planetary crisis of habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and climate change facing our world.

Although the plastic soup of our seas is the most recognised issue with stark heart-breaking images of sea creatures trapped in plastic, and beaches littered with plastic. All the root causes and consequences of these varied ocean issues need addressing and action must be taken to protect people and planet. Activities such as the deep sea trawling that is decimating marine habitats; the rise in pollution that is destroying coral reefs; and the lack of government action to increase and effectively manage marine protected areas all need to be addressed.

There were also stories of hope; of groups converting reclaimed land back to salt marshes, beach clean-ups, coral reef conservation programmes. David also shared how we as individuals can all play our part in this and encouraged us all to think about the consequences of our everyday actions.

Addressing the central question of the talk – is it too late to save our oceans? David argues that it is not too late. Fish stocks can be replenished, marine habitats restored, pollution cleaned up and government policies can be set. We have the means and we know what needs to be done but it’s whether we have the willingness to do so.  The responsibility is then also turned back to us. Can we change our ways from a convenience and disposable culture? How do we change the way we view the ocean and not treat it as a giant dumping ground and a never ending source of food. Our relationship with our blue planet matters.

I’ve had the privilege of going whale watching; and without fail, seeing their majestic tail fins sink gracefully into the water always fills me with wonder and awe. I’m sure many of us have happy memories that link us with the sea; be it rock pooling, seeing our first starfish, or collecting seashells. It is perhaps that memory that will encourage us to do something different today.  I for one, will think twice before I buy an item covered in unnecessary plastic packaging and I’ll join the next local river clean up activity organised by Warriors on Waste.

by Sara Kandiah

Find out more about the marine conservation work of Just One Ocean here and you can support their work by donating via their just giving page here.

Purdy’s brand new single Sink or Swim, written in response to the global climate crisis, is out now and available to listen to here.