June 28, 2022

Healthy oceans critical to life as we know it

<!-- wp:paragraph --><p>Oceanic and coastal ecosystems provide numerous services that support our economic, cultural, spiritual, recreational and nutritional needs. Globally, the ocean economy is estimated to be USD1.5 trillion and this is expected to double by 2030. In South Africa, Operation Phakisa is set to unlock our Ocean Economy with the aim to contribute R129 - R177 billion to our GDP by 2033. Beyond this, the oceans moderate weather patterns and help to combat climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere and locking it away in sediments. As such, well-functioning ocean environments are not only important for people that have a direct connection to the sea, but they play a fundamental role in shaping economies and life as we know it on our planet.</p><!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --><p><strong>Are our oceans under threat?</strong></p><!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --><p>Unfortunately, the services that created our connection to the seas and underpin its value to humanity and society are now threatened more than ever. Centuries of development and over fishing, paired with ever expanding global and coastal populations (currently 40% of world’s population lives in coastal regions), failing management of effluent and waste waters, unsustainable generation of litter and global warming are pushing the oceans to a tipping point. Without appropriate management, the projected local and global growth in the Blue Economy will undoubtedly push the oceans beyond this tipping point. The oceans, however, are a dynamic and complex space to manage as there are many diverse stakeholders that are trying to coexist and survive on limited resources. Management has had to continually adapt through time as the opportunities to gain economic advantage have diversified and we have learnt that resources are exhaustible, and that pollution, habitat destruction and climate change compromise the ability of the marine environment to support human needs. At the same time, advances in both the social and ecological sciences have improved our knowledge about how marine and social systems function and co-function.</p><!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --><p><strong>What is the solution?</strong></p><!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --><p>There is now an established set of management tools that allow for comprehensive and inclusive marine spatial planning to accommodate stakeholder needs while trying to ensure that the individual or cumulative actions don’t jeopardise ocean sustainability. However, the continued need for adaptive measures suggests that in many cases management interventions alone are not able to cope with current threats facing South Africa’s and global oceans. It is becoming increasingly evident that collective action and responsible stewardship is required from all people who have a shared interest in maintaining the integrity of our oceans. This requires responsible decision making on how we as individuals and communities use the oceans and holding others accountable for their action or inaction. This can simply include learning, following and promoting management regulations, participating in restoration projects or making sustainable seafood choices. Collective action also requires engagement in management decisions (e.g. by participating in stakeholder engagement workshops or providing comments to government gazettes) and ensuring that relevant stakeholders are included in the decision making process.&nbsp;</p><!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --><p>While the outlook is pessimistic, not all is lost and we can still change things around if we all do our bit to be part of the solution not the problem.  Keep our oceans clean, pick up litter, Help to create an ocean environment that your grandchildren and their grandchildren can enjoy.</p><!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:media-text {"align":"","mediaId":149197,"mediaLink":"","mediaType":"image","mediaWidth":20} --><div class="wp-block-media-text is-stacked-on-mobile" style="grid-template-columns:20% auto"><figure class="wp-block-media-text__media"><img src="" alt="" class="wp-image-149197 size-full"/></figure><div class="wp-block-media-text__content"><!-- wp:paragraph {"style":{"color":{"background":"#d0d2d3"}}} --><p class="has-background" style="background-color:#d0d2d3">Anthony Bernard is a marine scientist working at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, a facility within National Research Foundation. He manages the facilities marine remote imagery platform (MARIP) and specialises in assessment of demersal and benthic fish populations (i.e. those found near the sea-floor) using remote video and visual census sampling techniques. Anthony’s work concentrates on how the environment and human activities influence fish populations, how standardised research can support effective management and capacity development.</p><!-- /wp:paragraph --></div></div><!-- /wp:media-text --><!-- wp:spacer {"height":"31px"} --><div style="height:31px" aria-hidden="true" class="wp-block-spacer"></div><!-- /wp:spacer --><!-- wp:media-text {"mediaId":149196,"mediaLink":"","mediaType":"image","mediaWidth":15} --><div class="wp-block-media-text alignwide is-stacked-on-mobile" style="grid-template-columns:15% auto"><figure class="wp-block-media-text__media"><img src="" alt="" class="wp-image-149196 size-full"/></figure><div class="wp-block-media-text__content"><!-- wp:paragraph --><p><strong>Infiniti Insurance is inspired to contribute in this way toward developing awareness, sharing knowledge and building capacity, in support of the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Life Below Water (SDG 14) for a more sustainable world.</strong></p><!-- /wp:paragraph --></div></div><!-- /wp:media-text --><!-- wp:paragraph --><p></p><!-- /wp:paragraph -->

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