Celebrating World Ocean Day: Protecting Our Blue Planet

June 4, 2024

Few & Far celebrates World Ocean Day, on June 7, 2024! To learn more about the importance of protecting and preserving our great oceans, we conducted a Q&A with Dr. Camilla Floros, Marine Program Manager and Principal Scientist for Oceans Without Border. 

World Ocean Day catalyzes collective action for a healthy ocean and a stable climate. Powered by the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, with the mission to help unite and rally the world to protect and restore our blue planet! World Ocean Day supports collaborative conservation, working with its global network of youth leaders and 2,000+ organizations in 150+ countries, and providing free and customizable promotional and actionable resources. The United Nations has officially recognized 8 June since 2008. 

Can you speak on the importance of protecting the world’s oceans and the biodiversity within them?

Protecting the world's oceans and the biodiversity within them is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Biodiversity: Oceans are home to a vast array of species, many of which are still undiscovered. Preserving ocean biodiversity ensures the stability and resilience of ecosystems. Each species plays a role in maintaining the balance of marine environments.
  2. Ecosystem Services: Oceans provide numerous ecosystem services essential for human well-being. They regulate the climate, produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, and provide food and livelihoods for millions of people worldwide.
  3. Food Security: Fish and other marine organisms are crucial sources of protein for billions of people. Sustainable management of fisheries and protection of marine habitats are necessary to ensure continued access to seafood and support food security.
  4. Economic Benefits: Healthy oceans contribute significantly to the global economy through industries such as fishing, shipping, tourism, and pharmaceuticals. Protecting marine biodiversity safeguards these economic activities and the livelihoods they support.
  5. Climate Regulation: Oceans play a vital role in regulating the Earth's climate by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide. Healthy marine ecosystems are better able to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change impacts such as ocean acidification and sea-level rise.
  6. Medicinal Resources: Marine organisms produce compounds with potential medicinal properties. Protecting ocean biodiversity preserves these resources for scientific research and the development of new medicines.
  7. Biodiversity Conservation: Many species rely on interconnected marine habitats throughout their life cycles. Protecting ocean biodiversity helps conserve not only marine species but also terrestrial species that depend on healthy oceans for their survival.

In summary, protecting the world's oceans and the biodiversity within them is essential for sustaining ecosystems, supporting human well-being, and safeguarding the planet's future.

In the regions where Oceans Without Borders operates, are there any specific projects or conservation efforts you would like to highlight?

Mnemba: Coral reef nursery project

  • In September 2021, Oceans Without Borders launched a multi-phased coral reef restoration project at Zanzibar’s Mnemba Island. Oceans Without Borders is a marine conservation initiative founded by &Beyond and Africa Foundation, &Beyond’s conservation and community development partner since 1992. The collective successes of this reef restoration project are the protection and restoration of the Mnemba Island House Reef, securing of integral biodiversity, and developing sustainable solutions to marine conservation, food security and community livelihoods.
  • It started with an underwater coral nursery comprising a few tables cultivating coral colonies and has now grown to 42 tables at the nursery of genetically diverse and varied coral species, and 6 new constructed-and-deployed  artificial reef sites within the conservation area that surrounds Mnemba Island. 
  • To date, 7 193 micro-colonies have been transplanted onto degraded sections of the Mnemba Island House Reef. Meanwhile, a further 1 580 micro-colonies from the coral nursery have been transplanted onto the six new artificial reef constructs. These are developing into thriving reef habitats and providing an alternative revenue source for local tourism operators. The long-term goal is for these additional habitats to provide spillover of target fish species to fishing areas for local communities.
  • The project is overseen by our team of four Community and Conservation (C&C) Rangers who are not only coral reef restoration practitioners, but also form a dynamic interface with the communities living in the northern Unguja seascape. They engage directly with various community sectors on a weekly basis through environmental lessons in schools, workshops with local boat captains and fishers, and regular meetings with community leadership structures to ensure close collaborative relationships.

What role does tourism have to play in the conservation and protection of the world’s oceans?

Tourism can play a significant role in the conservation and protection of the world's oceans through various means:

  1. Education and Awareness: Tourism provides opportunities for people to experience and learn about marine ecosystems firsthand through activities such as snorkeling, diving, and eco-tours. Well-managed tourism operations can educate visitors about the importance of ocean conservation, marine biodiversity, and the need for sustainable practices.
  2. Economic Incentives: Sustainable marine tourism can generate economic benefits for local communities, creating incentives for conservation. By supporting responsible tourism initiatives, such as marine parks, protected areas, and eco-friendly accommodations, tourists contribute to the preservation of marine habitats and wildlife.
  3. Stakeholder Engagement: Tourism can facilitate dialogue and collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, local communities, businesses, and conservation organizations, to develop and implement effective marine conservation strategies.
  4. Funding Conservation Efforts: Revenues generated from tourism activities, such as entrance fees, permits, and eco-tour packages, can contribute directly to funding marine conservation initiatives, including research, monitoring, enforcement, and habitat restoration projects.
  5. Regulation and Management: Tourism can be regulated and managed to minimize its negative impacts on marine ecosystems. Implementing measures such as visitor quotas, zoning restrictions, waste management practices, and environmental guidelines can help mitigate tourism-related threats to oceans.
  6. Behavioural Change: Tourism experiences can inspire individuals to adopt more sustainable behaviours and lifestyles, such as reducing plastic consumption, conserving water, supporting local conservation initiatives, and advocating for marine protection.
  7. Conservation Partnerships: Collaboration between the tourism industry and conservation organizations can lead to innovative solutions for addressing common challenges, such as overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change impacts.
  8. Promotion of Responsible Practices: Tourism operators, businesses, and destination management organizations can promote responsible practices, such as sustainable seafood sourcing, renewable energy use, waste reduction, and carbon offsetting, to minimize their environmental footprint.

Overall, by embracing sustainable tourism practices, raising awareness, fostering community engagement, and supporting conservation efforts, tourism can contribute positively to the conservation and protection of the world's oceans while providing enjoyable and enriching experiences for travelers.