With the Day of the Sea, the United Nations draws attention to the value and the threat to the oceans.
Oceans are the largest ecosystem on our planet. The oceans provide food for humans and are enormously important for the climate: they produce oxygen and absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. But their condition is threatening: “The oceans are evolving into a huge plastic waste dump, and these garbage masses in the oceans are affecting marine ecosystems,” warned Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks in New York.
“One thing is for sure: the filling of our blue planet has to be stopped, and for this to succeed, we must agree on a genuine change of direction here at the United Nations,” Hendricks urgently appealed to the UN.
Livelihoods of the oceans are endangered
Oceans cover more than two-thirds of the earth’s surface. They are the habitat for countless species of fish, animals, birds, and plants. But these ecosystems are threatened. Radical fishing methods cause species to die out or endanger their livelihoods. 30 percent of the fish stocks are overfished.
Climate change has heated the waters of the oceans. The result: 20 percent of coral cracks worldwide have died, another 20 percent severely damaged. The vital circulation, which globally ensures the exchange of cold and warm water, is disturbed.
“We estimate that more than 100 million tons of waste are floating in the world’s oceans, and the largest and largest garbage whirlpool in the South Pacific is an area the size of Central Europe,” said Hendricks.
Together for the salvation of the oceans
For the first time, the United Nations convened a conference on the topic of the oceans. The UN – Ocean Conference ‘s motto is “Our oceans, our future”. The World Community advised on the critical state of the oceans from 5 to 8 June 2017. “Never before have so many countries deliberated on the future of the oceans, which shows the drama we are now facing,” said Federal Minister Hendricks in her statement.
The conference sought UN member states to vigorously promote the Sustainable Goal of the 2030 Agenda for Life Under Water. “150 states will for the first time pass a joint call to action – a call for action – to protect our oceans – a huge step forward,” Hendricks said.
The G20 -Staaten has already agreed under the German Presidency on an action plan against marine debris. In doing so, the Länder commit themselves to register significantly less waste via the rivers and wastewater into the oceans. Countries need to improve their waste management and focus more on resource efficiency: waste generation must be reduced, waste must be treated and wastewater must be better purified.
Plastic waste does not dissolve
Plastic garbage, in particular, is a big problem: marine animals of all kinds eat plastic parts because they think they are food, and they die of it. An estimated one million seabirds die each year. Although plastics are rubbed in the course of a long time and therefore invisible. But tiny particles continue to exist for years.
In addition, plastic is often toxic, contains hormonal agents or plasticizers that slowly leak into the water. These pollutants are absorbed by algae, fish, and birds – and at the end of the food chain, they return to humans. “We need a different way of dealing with plastic, plastic is not marine, it’s recycling, and since most of the plastic waste goes directly from land into the ocean, it’s even more important to build recycling and disposal systems around the world. , Hendricks reported.