What does the large blue symbolize for you? Is it a vacation spot, a source of money for the 60 million people employed in the marine fishing sector, a crucial protein supply of 151 million tonnes for human consumption, or a haven for millions of species?
The ocean means various things to various people, yet it is a source of life for all of us. Here’s what we can do to keep our oceans safe for upcoming generations.
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It is easy to forget that water covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. The ocean is vast, robust, and healing to the spirit, but what happens when confronted with a crisis and cannot cure its wounds? Scientists anticipate that 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs will perish by 2050 and that the ocean’s biodiversity is deteriorating at an alarming rate due to human activity.
People’s mobility has increased in recent years as the global middle class has grown and travel has become more convenient. As a result, the number of foreign visitor journeys globally hit 1.3 billion in 2017 and is expected to spread 1.8 billion by 2030, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
As per the World Travel and Tourism Council, the future of travel and tourism will support 400 million jobs and contribute to 25% of global net employment growth. Unfortunately, the infrastructure necessary to maintain this economic expansion has put further strain on natural resources, biodiversity, and local populations.
Tourism may be harmful, yet it may also promote long-term growth. Moreover, when properly planned and managed, sustainable tourism may help to enhance livelihoods, inclusiveness, cultural heritage, and natural resource conservation, as well as foster international understanding.
Here are three instances of how tourism is causing damage to our seas, as well as initiatives, to alleviate that effect:
1. The Price of Tourism
Various tourist sites are struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing inflow of visitors. As a result, urban residents in Amsterdam, Venice, and Barcelona express their worries, and an anti-tourist attitude is spreading.
In addition, Tourism-driven gentrification may strain the local community’s well-being and livelihood by driving up real estate prices, overcrowding the destination, and accelerating beach erosion in coastal regions.
In 2017, Palau and New Zealand launched a daring campaign asking people to be environmental ambassadors by signing an eco-pledge while visiting their nations.
This modest step is critical in shifting tourist behavior toward cultural respect, conserving the nation’s natural and living resources, and preserving the country for future generations.
Sustainability awareness is more critical than ever since user-generated content and peer-to-peer digital platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor are becoming essential drivers of the experience economy, tourist trends, and global traveler attitudes.
2. The Presence of Toxic Sunscreen in our Oceans
The usage of sun protection products has increased in tandem with the increase of beachgoers. However, many people are unaware that 14,000 tonnes of harmful sunscreen end up in the ocean each year.
In fact, up to 82,000 different types of chemicals from personal care items wind up in the seas. Chemical sunscreen usage, water pollution, coral illnesses, increasing sea temperatures, and ocean acidification cause juvenile coral deformations and bleaching of reefs, preventing corals from developing, reproducing, and surviving.
Non-biodegradable sunscreen creams were banned in Hawaii, Mexico, and Aruba in 2018. Seychelles went a step further, committing to a blue bond to assist the ocean and marine-based initiatives that would help the economy, the ecology, and the climate.
It is critical to address the blue economy holistically and innovatively since the sector is predicted to develop at double the pace of the mainstream economy by 2030.
3. Circular Tides
In 2018, there was a surge in global awareness of tourism’s (micro)plastic impact. According to researchers, every year, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic wind up in the ocean.
As visitors litter beaches with straws, coffee cups, water bottles, and cigarette butts, about 40% of all plastic is in single-use packaging.
Thailand declared in October 2018 that Maya Beach would be closed forever to clean up the impossible quantity of garbage and sewage that has stained its shore. The danger to our seas necessitates cross-national and regional cooperation, but most crucially, multi-stakeholder global involvement.
Strategic collaborations that allow the public and commercial sectors to minimize plastic waste, promote a circular economy, and create more resilient and sustainable communities are essential.
For example, the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, an alliance of the world’s leading packaging companies, is critical to generating new collective action and solutions to reduce pollution and rescue our seas.
There are both pros and downsides to increased human mobility and tourism; thus, it is critical to balance encouraging tourism for economic development and to create long-term incentives for ocean conservation.
The ocean may seem infinite, yet we are all on the same boat and must find standard solutions to ride the waves together. This is important not just for the health of our seas and marine life, but also for human existence.