The Ocean Decade – What does it mean for you?

We are in the midst of the United Nations’ World Oceans Decade and 8 June 2023 was World Oceans Day, which Fremantle Shipping News celebrated with an informative podcast with Dr Luke Twomey, CEO of Western Australian Marine Science Institute.

Credit Jean Hudson

On Tuesday 13 June, at a public event in Fremantle organised by the United Nations Association of Australia Western Australia Division, leading WA marine scientists, including Dr Twomey, addressed the question – “What does the UN Ocean Decade mean for WA?

The panel discussion raised awareness of the UN Ocean Decade and promoted the sustainable management and conservation of Western Australia’s oceans.

Credit Jean Hudson

The panel, which was moderated by Dr Oliver Jewell from The UWA Oceans Institute, included:
• Dr Luke Twomey,
• Professor Jennifer Verduin, Senior Lecturer in Oceanography at Murdoch University, and
• Dr Rebecca Wellard, Ocean Conservation Program Manager, Minderoo Foundation.

Credit Cecile O’Connor

The audience was invited to consider Western Australia in marine science terms –

* 20,000 kilometres of coastline, the longest in the country.

* 12 marine parks and reserves, including the world-famous Ningaloo Reef.

* Home to some of the world’s most diverse and unique marine life.

* The Great Southern Reef, which runs along our coast, is an important biodiversity hotspot, with large seagrass meadows and a habitat for cetaceans, birds and other marine life.

* 2 billion people live on the brim of the Indian Ocean, placing great pressure on he ocean from industry and over fishing, with pollution, algae blooms, dying reefs, dead fish, effluent and micro plastics all creating problems.

The panel emphasised the ocean is a vital part of our planet, and it is essential that we work together to protect it. However, unsustainable human activity has created a ‘perfect storm’ that threatens marine life across the globe. In short, our oceans are in crisis.

The big question: So, how can we make a difference? A number of practical suggestions came from the panel –

* You don’t need to be a scientist to ‘join the fight’ to protect our oceans.
* Live more sustainably and avoid single use plastics.
* Think upcycling, the creative resume, of things rather than recycling them.
* Lobby your local MP to act. More funding would help.
* Encourage sustainable fisheries, both industrial and recreational.
* Create awareness by telling others of the crisis through education and community events.

There was good news too –

* The Ocean Treaty 2023, a new legally binding maritime biodiversity agreement has just been adopted by the UN’s 193 members, as of 19 June 2023.

* Scientific research has found that, off the West Coast of Australia, there has been an annual increase of 9% in humpback whale numbers since 2012. The increase is the highest in the world. Humpback whales are no longer an endangered species with as many as 40,000 in Australian waters. (Other species however remain at risk.)

Today, less than 3% of the global ocean is protected. The Ocean Project however has undertaken the 30×30 campaign to support national and global movements to protect at least 30% of our blue planet’s land, waters and ocean by 2030.

If you haven’t dived or snorkeled on our reefs, have a look at Tim Winton’s fabulous 3-part documentary Ningaloo/Nyinggulu, on ABC iView. Tim takes us to one of the Earth’s last truly wild and intact places. Known by its First Peoples traditional owners as Nyinggulu, this region has supported humans for over 40,000 years. It is now a refuge for many species of endangered and extinct elsewhere.

A great information evening, with thanks to the the panel and to United Nations Association of Australia (WA), The UWA Oceans Institute, Minderoo Foundation and Dr Rebecca Wellard, and Harry Butler Institute Murdoch University.

* STORY by Jean Hudson @jeansodyssey. Jean is our Shipping Correspondent and also a regular feature writer and photographer here on the Shipping News. You may like to follow up her informative Places I Love stories, as well as other feature stories and Freo Today photographs, right here.


** Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to receive your free copy of The Weekly Edition of the Shipping News each Friday!