The Seychelles, a string of 115 verdant, rocky islands in the Indian Ocean, recently announced – in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – that it would protect 30 percent of its glittering turquoise waters from commercial use.Safeguarding some 410,000 square kilometres (158,000 square miles) of the sea will benefit wildlife on the shore and in the water, including 100,000 giant tortoises and some of the world’s last pristine coral reefs.
Memories of idyllic beaches and sonorous waves may seem far away while we all remain under lockdown at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, we need not look far to appreciate the enduring history of the ocean in Asia and the Pacific. For generations, the region has thrived on our seas. Our namesake bears a nod to the Pacific Ocean, a body of water tethered to the well-being of billions in our region.
The Earth’s oceans face many threats, none of which have quick fixes. Still, the solutions are known, and with a sufficiently broad coalition of partners, we can get the ball rolling on a number of fronts.A wide range of human activities – from burning fossil fuels to over-fishing – have been degrading the oceans for years.
With Southeast Asia awash in rubbish, from plastic-choked whales to trash-clogged canals, its leaders are planning to push through a deal to fight maritime debris at a regional meeting this weekend. Just five Asian countries – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand – dump more than half of the eight million tonnes of plastic waste that end up in oceans every year, according to a 2017 Ocean Conservancy report.The region has come under fire for not doing enough to tack
Oceans play an essential role for life on earth by generating most of the oxygen we breathe, providing us with food, regulating our climate, cleaning the water we drink and delivering a variety of valuable ingredients for medicinal uses.However, humans are continuously threatening the oceans by carrying out destructive fishing practices, overfishing, creating pollution which in turn leads to coral bleaching and other impacts from climate change.
The alarming spread of microplastics has become a problem that can no longer be ignored. Microplastics are plastics measuring five millimetres or smaller and are formed when larger pieces of plastic such as shopping bags or bottles disintegrate into smaller pieces.Due to their small size, the issue of microplastics might be seen as secondary to the “bigger” problem of plastic bags and other plastic goods which pollute the environment – but there is no escaping it.From drinking water
ASEAN is once again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, this time after the newly formed Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) singled out the region for its disproportionate contribution to plastic waste in the environment – especially the ocean.Approximately eight million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year – and there may already be 150 million tonnes of it based on estimated leakages per year since 1950.