Plastic pollution and marine litter the focus of World Oceans Day 2017

Published by Kate O'Brien on

June 7th, 2017

A number of events will be held across the world over the coming days to celebrate World Oceans Day 2017, including community clean ups and projects to eliminate or lower usage of single use plastic bags and bottles.

The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Our Ocean, Our Future’ focusing on the problem of plastics pollution and cleaning the oceans of marine litter.

We have produced more plastic in the last ten years alone than during the whole last century, with over eight million tonnes finding its way into our oceans every year.  Fifty per cent of this waste is single use plastic.

By recognising the importance of the world’s oceans as a source of food, oxygen and clean water we have the opportunity to help turn the tide on marine litter.

This year, the newly-formed World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, with 11 young people (ages 14 – 22) from 11 diverse countries, has been instrumental in helping to shape the development of World Oceans Day 2017.

These young ocean leaders have provided new and unique perspectives, ideas and recommendations for developing this global event. They have focused on engaging youth across the globe and expanding opportunities for ocean conservation throughout the year.

“I love to celebrate World Oceans Day each year because it’s an opportunity for people around the world to think about how we can come together in support of healthy oceans” – Jack Johnson, musician, surfer and environmental activist.

According to Bill Mott, Executive Director of The Ocean Project, which has coordinated World Oceans Day internationally since 2002, young people have a big role to play in addressing issues around ocean conservation in the future.

The Ocean Project advances ocean conservation in partnership with its network of more than 2,000 aquariums, museums, and other youth and visitor-serving organizations in more than 100 countries.

“With nearly half of the world’s population under age 25, it is imperative to empower young people to step up as leaders at an early age, and engage them in a solutions-oriented approach to ocean conservation,” Mr Mott said.

“We believe that youth are the key to success and, for this reason, we are making youth engagement our top priority for growing the reach and impact of World Oceans Day on June 8 and year-round.”

How can you help? Through the website, make a commitment to reduce your use of disposable plastics and by sharing on social media at #CleanSeas and #WorldOceansDay you can encourage others to do the same.

There are several events taking place across Ireland. Click here to find events near you.

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Kate O'Brien

Kate is a freelance writer with work published in The Guardian, the Financial Times and the New York Times blog. She is a former Editor of The Plant, a UK magazine on plants and other greenery