GE2015 Day One: Saving our Oceans

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

For someone who lives in the Midlands I only get the chance to visit the seaside a few times a year. Obviously many others are in this position too but does that really mean that we shouldn’t care about it? Well the answer to that is no. Even though we don’t live near the sea and we don’t enjoy it’s beautiful scenery that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t do anything for us.

What do the oceans do for me?

First of all, we need oceans to survive. Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe, they’re the most promising source of new medicines to combat cancer, pain and bacterial diseases, and they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change. It’s safe to say that without this critical carbon dioxide collection process that the oceans take on we would literally all suffocate. As well as this they give us the weather to grow crops, water to support the smallest and largest animals on earth and 80% of all species, vast ice flows to help regulate our climate, millions of jobs and a life-time of pleasure. The incredibly vast size of them means they affect people all round the world. They also provide $21 trillion in food and other benefits yearly. If you do live by the sea or visit the sea you’ll know that they are extremely beautiful places and is thriving with a whole manner of different species.

Below the water

Below the water it is estimated that there are between 700,000 and one million different species. Other species are also affected by the sea too, for example sea birds and seals which get their food source from beneath the water. Oceans are home to some of the most magnificent and unusual creatures on Earth. There are still huge areas of the ocean that humans have never seen. Biologists estimate that there could be between 500,000 and 5,000,000 marine species down there that we have not yet discovered. Earth’s longest mountain range is not on land but under the sea, the Mid-Oceanic ridge is four times longer than the Andes, Rockies and Himalayas combined! They’re also home to some of the longest-lived animals on our planet, including the orange roughly which is a fish that can live up to 200 years. As you can see saving our oceans isn’t just something we should be doing here in the UK but world wide, as oceans are all across the globe!

What’s the problem?

So if the ocean does all this good for us, surely we should do the same back? Yes we should but whether we are doing that is a different story. We’re damaging our oceans in a whole manner of different ways. From persecuting and culling the species within it, over fishing, pollution, build up of rubbish (litter), and many more reasons.

The global fish fleet is 2-3 times larger than what the oceans can sustainably support, this obviously has a massive impact on the waters environment. It’s not just the fish that are affected, each year billions of unwanted fish, like dolphins, turtles, seabirds, sharks and corals, die due to inefficient, illegal, and destructive fishing practises.

Rubbish like plastic bags, balloons, glass bottles, shoes, packaging ends up in our oceans, if not disposed of properly. Most of these materials dispose very slowly and is often mistaken for as food by marine animals. High concentrations of plastic material, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of many marine species, including whales, dolphins, seals, puffins, and turtles. Plastic six-pack rings for drink bottles can also choke marine animals. This rubbish can also come back to shore, where it pollutes beaches and other coastal habitats.

The species living in our waters are also being slaughtered and culled. This is happening all over the world but one example is from Japan. Each year from September to May over 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered. Fishermen round them up by the hundreds using sound barriers. These animals are then selected and sent off to marine mammal parks while the unselected ones are killed in the most inhumane way, which can only be described as a massacre.

What can I do?

  • Minding your carbon footprint and reducing energy consumption
  • Make safe, sustainable seafood choices
  • Use fewer plastic products
  • Help take care of beaches
  • Support organisations working to protect and save our oceans

Manifestos

Labour – When looking through the Labour manifesto there is no actual mention of oceans or protecting them. However there are lots of mentions of climate change. Our oceans are obviously affected by climate change so in a way this does link as they haven’t been specific in what they’ve said.

UKIP – Whilst reading through the policies on the UKIP manifesto I found no comment to do with oceans or anything that could relate to that.

Conservative – Whilst looking for this subject in the Conservative manifesto I did find some comments on climate change. These included that they would push for a “strong global climate deal” in Paris, support the UK Climate Change Act, and work to assist the world’s poorest people in adapting to climate impacts. There was also a mention of oceans, it said a ‘Blue Belt’ would be introduced to safeguard marine habitats around the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories.

SNP – No mention at all of oceans, but there was a mention of a carbon reduction which in a way does link to oceans.

Plaid – Whilst looking through this manifesto I didn’t find anything either.

Liberal Democrats – The only thing they have put which links to oceans is a 5p charge on carrier bags. This could link to oceans as they are a problem here.

Greens (save best until last) – Firstly, they state how they will work with local communities, scientists and conservation groups to expand the UK’s network of Marine Conservation Zones to create areas specifically for the protection of mobile species as well as reference areas off limit to fishing and other extractive activities. They also said how they will produce a strategy for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gases. Another is ensuring that conservation of the environment of oversea territories, including marine areas, is funded to a equal level to their global significance. As well as working to ensure sustainable fish policies. Also work for stronger international protection of endangered sea creatures, and end to the killing of porpoises, whales and dolphins in all waters and keeping these animals for commercial purposes.

 

Tomorrows blog is on the topic of snares.
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