I went to the Ocean Film Festival last night and it got me thinking. Not only about the inspiring stories I heard about people’s relationships with the sea, but also about our relationship with it in general.
Everyone has a different relationship with the sea. Some people rely on it for their livelihoods and go out on it every day. For some people it plays a big part in their leisure time, happiness or health. Being in, on, under or near the sea means a lot to a lot of people. But what about those who don’t see it, or aren’t interested in it?
The ocean is the engine of our planet, and without it we wouldn’t be here. So people who say they don’t know or care about what it’s like are missing the point. Without the ocean the planet would be too cold for us, we wouldn’t have enough food and those working in fishing, shipping, marine tourism and so many other sectors would be out of a job. 90% of everything we use is transported via the ocean (definitely read this book, by the way), we gain important medicinal benefits from marine plants and animals and its natural underwater beauty is incredible in itself, even if we can’t see it from the shore.
The ocean is ours and we have a responsibility for it. We are a big part of the problems it is facing, therefore if we’re not a big part of the solution then that isn’t right. If we look after it then it will look after us. Currently we are not looking after it enough, therefore it won’t be able to be there for us in the future.
Ocean stewardship is about taking responsibility for the ocean. We need to step up and care for it, even if we don’t directly see it or take from it that often. It is still in the background supporting everything we do, and it has a right to be healthy just as we do.
There are tangible things that we can do to help protect the ocean, such as choosing sustainable fish, recycling to prevent plastic reaching the sea and picking up litter off the beach. One of the most powerful things we can do is to encourage people to appreciate the ocean. It’s like when you’re told to do something but you don’t really see why. You can do it but your heart isn’t in it. By getting people to love and respect the ocean, then they will be much more likely to continue to care for it in the future because they want to, not just because they were told to.
So share why you love the ocean, the places you go and what it means to you. Talk to people, post photos, stories or films. Go and see it. Help other people appreciate what it does for us and how to help look after it. Social networks are great for this. Use #oceanoptimism and help spread positivity about the ocean.