In 2009, the UN General Assembly designated June 8 as "World Oceans Day". The theme for this year is "Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean".
Over 70% of the earth's surface is covered by the oceans, making up 80% of the world's biodiversity and also the largest ecosystem.
Canada first proposed World Oceans Day at the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, this special day has been widely celebrated in recognition of the essential role that the oceans play in ensuring our future.
Oceans are home to 94% of the earth's wildlife. From microscopic life to the biggest animals to have ever lived on earth, we can find everything in the oceans.
The oceans contribute significantly to earth's biodiversity, food supply, and life. More than 40 percent of the world's population lives within 100 kilometres of the coastline, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
As a result, improving the management of ocean resources is crucial to global food security.
The fishing and aquaculture industries directly employ 56 million people worldwide. Alongside are the people involved in follow-up activities, known as value chain activities. These can include handling, processing, and distribution. More than three billion people depend on fish as their primary source of animal protein.
Fisheries and fish farming provide livelihood and sustainability for about 12% of the world's population. Also, the oceans generate half of the oxygen supply we breathe.
The oceans regulate our climate by absorbing a quarter of all the carbon dioxide we emit, turning them into a "carbon sink".
Our oceans absorb 90% of the extra heat produced by global warming, without which our climates would become unstable. Therefore, we must act now to save our oceans, reduce the impacts of climate change and build a more sustainable future.
The oceans are a vital source of renewable energy. Waves and tides can be used to generate electricity, as well as power offshore wind farms.
Oceans play a vital role in the water cycle. Without the ocean, we would not be able to get rain and, therefore, drinkable water.
With its incredible biodiversity, the global ocean is a likely goldmine for new medicines. Oceanic organisms, for example, horseshoe crabs, seaweed, and marine bacteria, can be sources of antibiotics, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory substances. There is a belief that the ocean can also benefit our mental health.
All of us are somehow connected, sustained, and supported by the oceans. Despite this, the state of our oceans is steadily deteriorating and impacting the lives of those who depend on it. We need to work together to ensure the vibrancy of our oceans is restored and that we do not continue to deplete its bounty.
One of the world's most populous regions lies within the Bay of Bengal's basin. The coasts of the bay are home to about 200 million people from eight different countries.
An estimated ten million people in Bangladesh are dependent solely on hilsa fishing directly or indirectly, according to Barguna District Fishing Trawler Owners' Association.
Nonetheless, climate change and other anthropogenic pressure along with physical, and environmental factors, will continue to pose a challenge to the sustainability of fishery operations and lives of the people who depend on it.
Temperature, ocean acidification, ocean productivity, sea-level change, increased rainfall, droughts, heat waves, and tropical cyclone intensity are a few of these variables that are affected by anthropogenic activities.
A warmer Bay of Bengal shows signs of climate change. In the last 45 years, sea surface temperature (SST) has risen by 0.2 to 0.3°C and is expected to rise by 2.0 to 3.5°C by the end of the century.
Consequently, the sea level is also likely to rise by 37 cm by 2050. During the past two decades, cyclones in the Bay of Bengal have intensified.
Floods and droughts have increased over time, threatening plants and animals. Ocean acidification and sea surface temperature increases have made many fish species vulnerable.
Recently, scientists reported a dead zone encircling 60,000 sq km of the bay. These oxygen-depleted waters are home to only a few rare creatures, such as sulphur-oxidising bacteria and marine worms.
Moreover, the northern part of the Bay of Bengal, which belongs to Bangladesh, is subject to indiscriminate fishing and pollution. As a result, our coasts and oceans are in trouble and require considerable attention to remain healthy.
Locally, a number of activities can benefit ocean life around our coasts. By reducing the use of disposable plastic items like cups, plates, cutlery and bottles, switching to reusable bags and bulk buying, we can become more eco-friendly.
The best ways to reduce our carbon footprint is to opt for a bicycle instead of driving cars, conserve energy and if possible, shift to a vegan diet. The majority of pollution in the oceans originates from land, and coastal zones are particularly susceptible to pollution.
We can arrange local cleanups or take part in them. Keeping the waterways clean is hard work, but it is vital to keep debris from entering the ocean. We should also advocate for the use of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) and promote responsible fishing practices.
We need to keep our oceans clean and healthy for the sake of our survival. The time to take action and make a difference is now. We need to remember three words going forward: protect, conserve and restore.
Our oceans provide many benefits, however, the impact of human activity has had a profound effect. Going forward, we need to keep in mind the existing and future collective ocean actions in conservation, restoration and scientific exploration.
Revitalising our oceans requires a concerted effort through community organising, coalition building and impactful governance approaches. As we look back, we need to think of the pitfalls, explore the positives and move on with new hopes. Together, we need to and can save our ocean.
Dr Md Hadayet Ullah is currently working for an international fish and aquaculture research organisation. He can be reached at email@example.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.