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Protecting the oceans: it’s time to take action


Oceans contain 97% of the planet’s available water and represent a critical ecosystem that generates 50% of the planet’s available oxygen, allows climate regulation, stores CO2, and is a vital source of life for humanity. 40% of the world’s population lives less than 100 km from the sea side and depends directly on the oceans for food, jobs and development.

In Europe, regions located close to the sea shore generate 40% of the total wealth generated in the European community, through income from fishing, tourism, transportation, industries, renewable energy and trade.

And yet this life-critical resource is under threat from pollution, over-fishing and climate change. 75% of the ocean’s pollution comes from the land, with the saddest and most emblematic illustration of this being the emergence of a “seventh continent” right in the middle of the Pacific comprised of accumulated waste and plastics. If political, economic and civil society stakeholders fail to take rapid action in order to radically change humanity’s relationship with this resource, our very way of life could be threatened.

Fortunately, there is growing awareness and an increasing number of initiatives. Note in this respect that France, the country with the second largest maritime space in the world, has set itself the goal of transforming 10% of this area into protected marine havens.

Photo credit: ©SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT / Krista BOGGS

Progress in terms of infrastructure represents a strategic lever for guaranteeing protected oceans. Wastewater plants help to limit substantial pollution from physical, chemical and biological sources. However there is still a problem in that textile microfibers and plastics still cannot be eliminated by the filtering systems of traditional plants. In France, the Ecoseastem project, which is jointly managed by the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan region, the MED expedition association, the Villefranche Oceanographic laboratory and SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, seeks to identify this risk by defining the pollution generated by plastic microfibers and by evaluating their impact on the natural environment. The best technologies available, such as dynamic microfiltration, are being studied to this end.

Another ambitious initiative has been taken by the Plant A Fish association founded by Fabien Cousteau. The association aims to reintroduce some one billion fish into the oceans. Plant A Fish is part of a global initiative whose ambition is to reintroduce turtles into the East Pacific, restore mangroves, reintroduce oysters into the Hudson Bay and replant corals in the Maldives.

As the world shows a tendency to overfish fishing zones, with 80% of fish species at risk of becoming extinct by the middle of this century, Fabien Cousteau will be in Paris on 22 March 2015 to share his commitment at the Resource Revolution Tour. You can follow the live telecast on this website.