As you visit the seaside and look out over the Ocean during these sunny Spring days have you thought about how fundamental the Ocean is to our Planet and to our lives? It regulates the climate, it is at the heart of the water cycle and it produces half of the oxygen we breathe. It is home to millions of undiscovered species. It provides us, with fish and seafood, ferry routes and goods transportation but it is also the source of products used in medicines and healthcare as well as a source of energy, whether it is oil and gas from under the sea or wind and tidal power. In short, the Ocean is essential for all aspects of our life. On our Blue planet, all the Oceans eventually feed into one another, meaning that there is really just one World Ocean.
To ensure a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future, we need to place the Ocean at the heart of our daily lives. This is what we mean by a Blue Society. We often think of the Ocean as separating human communities, from continent to continent, when in fact, it is precisely what links us together.
Our Ocean faces major threats: climate change, loss of many species of plants and animals, pollution, over-fishing and inadequate and fragmented management. Its tremendous potential is at risk. For example, the Ocean absorbed about 93% of the combined extra heat generated by climate change between 1971 and 2010. By doing this, the Ocean has already spared us a major additional change in temperature. At the same time, the Ocean possesses immense potential for scientific breakthroughs and solutions that can help us to solve today’s environmental, economic and social crises, providing that we restore and preserve the marine environment.
The concept of a Blue Society emerged from the EU-funded project Sea for Society led by the French aquarium Nausicaá . Through direct consultation with stakeholders, citizens and youth across Europe, deeper insight was gained into the barriers that hinder marine sustainability. Ideas also emerged on how to overcome these barriers and appreciate the benefits of a sustainable, productive Ocean. These included involvement of the community in Ocean awareness projects and better educational initiatives.
To learn more about the Blue Society and to find out how you can get involved, please visit seaforsociety.eu or www.facebook.com/thebluesociety.
* Project coordinator of Sea For Society and Head of Cultural Services and International Cooperation at Nausicaá , Centre National de la Mer, France.