Cleaning oceans! Sounds strange, isn’t it? But that’s because people don’t even know that oceans have got dirty. And as long as clean water keeps on coming from their taps, they think all is well with the world.
And if one is to talk to them about seas and oceans, it would raise before their eyes the water cycle diagram that they studied in schools. Vapor rising from the oceans, clouds building in the sky, rain falling on the earth, water draining into the rivers, and rivers conveying it into the sea again…They firmly believe that they have no contribution to make in this natural mechanism. They rest satisfied with the idea that this cycle will continue as long as the sun shines and the grass grows.
There is another category of people who shy away from the idea of oceans because of the formidable, infinite expanse of rolling and crashing waves and the imagery of the jaws of mammoth marine life. They feel happy about being at a safe distance from them.
It is the people living in coastal regions who truly know about oceans and their changing complexion. They are the first people who find out any changes they observe in the nature of the seas. They are also concerned about it; since their life depends considerably on the manifold bounties of the seas and oceans.
That explains why all the major organizations which are working toward saving the oceans and their ecosystems belong to the maritime nations. We are going to learn about the invaluable contribution that some of them are making in this regard in their respective ways.
“The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.” This is the stated mission of the organization found on its website. It contains both the purpose and the means of achieving the target it has set before it. The areas on which this network of activists is focusing include:
- Lessening of plastic pollutants from the oceans
- Conservation of oceanic ecosystems
- Legit beach access for all
- Addressing the issues related to the health of the beaches and the shorelines &
- Preservation of water quality and its sustainability
These issues are largely addressed through campaigns, programs, and education that is imparted to coastal communities.
How passionately the organization is working toward achieving its target could be seen from the statistics provided on its website: “At any given moment, we’re working on more than 100 campaigns across the country.”
The entity of this advocacy organization is made possible by the collective efforts of The Pew Charitable Trust, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Sandler Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The scope of its activities is broader than that of Surfrider Foundation in that it aims to protect oceans on global level, not just the oceans that surround the US. And, the means by which it tries to restore them to normalcy is through scientifically driven campaigns. By normalcy is meant the wealth of bio-diversity and health that they possessed once upon a time.
The biodiversity of oceans not only maintains the marine ecosystem, it is the raison d’être for the fishing industry that not only provides livelihood for the fishing communities but also provide food for billions of people.
For so many peoples in coastal regions of the world, the various types of fishes provide staple food. But the human greed penetrated the necessity underlying the fishing trade with the result that it has cleared the vast stretches of oceans of so many species of fishes, literally endangering their existence.
Furthermore, the remaining damage is caused by hurting the nature of oceans that provided environment in which these species may flourish. One of the ways in which Oceana attempts to protect oceans is by managing the fishing trade scientifically.
5Gyres.org is a nonprofit organization that has been serving as an advisory body with United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2017. From the point of view of the present article, its contribution lies primarily in removing plastic waste from oceans and finding ways in which to recycle it in such a way that it does not end up as a waste.
The movement it waged against plastic waste resonated with the US government with the result that it established Microbead-Free Waters Act in 2015.
Also, it is involved in carrying out scientific research in the field, and making influential segments of societies and businesses part of its undertaking in order to develop its work in different parts of the world. Its work is implemented through:
- Trash academy
- Education &
Yet another nonprofit organization, Take 3 tries to educate people about the importance of protecting oceans to their own benefit and engage them in a global movement, appealing them to leave the beaches they visit with at the very least 3 pieces of waste from the beaches.
To make this movement public, the organization has put in place the following programs:
- Online learning program
- School education program
- Early childhood program
- Surf life saving clubs program
- Community education program &
- Conflict islands conservation initiative
Greenpeace organization was founded by Dorothy Stowe and Irving, her husband, in Vancouver. In their undertaking many ecologists also lent their helping-hand. Whenever their ideal of green world is threatened, this organization comes into action in order to challenge the systems that are working against it.
It made history in 1971 when the functionaries of the organization journeyed to an island in Arctic to stop nuclear experiment from taking place there. It not only grabbed the attention of the world but also took the form of a movement.
This organization knows the magnitude of the task that it has on its hands and, therefore, works in co-ordination with several regional organizations to facilitate its task. It tirelessly campaigns to make people aware of the importance of preserving the environment of the earth and oceans, and the ways in which it is challenged. If need be, it also encourages them to politically counter their governments to hold them accountable. It also works toward preserving the bio-diversity of oceans by challenging unethical fishing practices.
Ocean Conservancy was originally Delta Corporation, founded by Bill Kardash in Washington DC. It was partly his response to the info he received at the meeting of International Whaling Commission.
This organization dedicates itself in research work and raises fund for marine life protection, and promote conservation of oceans by means of viable scientific solutions. It was largely due to the efforts made by Ocean Conservancy that commercial whaling was banned in 1982.
But soon it identified the need for doing more than that, and came up with a program to protect the ecosystem of oceans and thereby also the habitats of marine life.
However, whatever damage that is caused to oceans is not limited to impacting the marine life alone; it also directly and adversely affects the coastal communities, their livelihood, seafood supply, clean air and water. Seeing the extent of its impact, this organization has put in place the following programs
- Protecting the Arctic
- Confronting climate change
- Confronting ocean acidification
- Government relations
- Protecting Florida
- Restoring the Gulf of Mexico
- Smart ocean planning
- Sustainable fisheries &
- Trash free seas
UN Oceans is an undertaking of the United Nations Organization in order to protect the oceans and promote rational use and development of their resources.
The whole idea was first introduced in the 1992 Earth Summit, and Sub-committee on Oceans and Coastal Areas of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC SOCA) was the first step taken to realize it in 1993. The subsequent review of the ACC SOCA led to the foundation of UN-Oceans in September 2003.
This body is intended to organize time-bound activities as per the demands raised by an occasion. It is to work alongside many other agencies that participate in these activities as an overseer.
This exercise is to promote coordination among all sides involved in this mammoth undertaking. The following are the areas touched by this organization:
- Integrated marine and coastal area management
- Sustainable fisheries
- Sustainable use of marine and coastal areas which are declared protected areas
- Promoting mariculture and alien species &
- Putting checks on and addressing in coordinated manner the issues of pollution from ships, oil spills, packaged goods, sewage, garbage and air pollution
RicO’Barry’s Dolphin Project
Founded by Richard O’Barry in 1982, this organization is known for having tirelessly confronting the irrational Japanese trading in cetaceans and putting stop on the dolphin trade in the Solomon Islands.
This non-profit organization aims to secure the coral reefs against all possible threats by carrying out research work oriented toward finding out different ways in which they can be saved.
It has practically demonstrated how the corals can be made to adapt to the new reality that the climate change has brought about. It also attempts to raise awareness of the importance of these coral reefs both for people and species of marine life.
What lends authenticity and value to its endeavors is the scalability of its solutions.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
This non-profit organization is significantly contributing to extensive research work, involving scientists and engineers, in order to systematically develop the studies of marine science and engineering in different directions.
It also offers higher education in the field. Their findings concerning the ways in which the health of the oceans is compromised are quite revealing – and also interesting.
Its influence is far-reaching in that it is willing to share its information with authorities in whose hands it is to form public policy, and also with people to raise their awareness of the prevalent situation.
These ten organizations are unique in their ways to grapple with the common problem that the earth is facing today. Also, their contribution lies in different areas of the problem and, in like manner, their solutions also vary in their extent and effectiveness.
The important thing is that they are not just talking about it; they are also taking concrete actions that are making a difference.
Oceans are among the earth’s most valuable natural resources. They govern the weather, clean the air, help feed the world, and provide a living for millions. It is only natural for us to work together to get the oceans clean.