For a long time, humans believed that our vast ocean was unlimitable and invulnerable to human impact. However, it’s only been recent that scientists have come to understand the catastrophic effects we’ve had on our seas.

We are seeing a global pollution crisis because a large amount of plastic waste is being thrown into the oceans. The trash is eaten by marine animals and is contaminating every step of the food chain — even ending up in the seafood we eat.

The widespread use of destructive fishing techniques is threatening the global fish population which is an essential source of food for millions. Human rights violations are rampant in the global fishing industry, from forced labor and human trafficking to debt bondage or inhumane working conditions.

There is currently little protection for our endangered marine life and diminishing fish stocks. With less than 2 percent of our oceans being set aside as marine reserves, it has become very easy to allow our natural resources to be exploited from lack of protection.

It is time to act now. Overfishing and plastic pollution is a threat to the health and well-being of our oceans. Without adequate protection and accountability of corporates, we could be causing irreparable damage to one of the most important food sources in the globe.

Plastic Pollution

Single-use plastic is everywhere including bags, soda bottles, food packaging, coffee cup lids, straws, lids- you know what you’re looking for. For decades, we have been taught recycling is the ideal solution to disposable products. However, the majority of the plastic used in the world isn’t recycled and a large amount of plastic ends up in the oceans. Without significant and urgent changes, we’ll be handing to the next generation a trash dump instead of an ocean incompatible with marine life.

Protection of Ocean Sanctuaries

The opportunity is there to create the Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the world. It is bigger than California, Florida, and New York when they are combined. It would ensure a safe habitat for the next generation of animals, as well as guard the waters from fishing vessels that are industrialized, that are sucking up the tiny shrimp-like krill upon which the entire Antarctic life is dependent.

The Antarctic ocean is home to a variety of amazing sea creatures, including whales and penguins as well as seals, fish as well as huge Squid. But the vitality of the ocean and iconic animals are threatened by a changing climate and increased industrial fishing.

We are trying to get the international community to make good on its pledge to develop an international treaty on high-seas biodiversity. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources must create a mandate and an approach that allows us to move faster towards the target of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030.

Overfishing & Destructive Fishing

The overfishing crisis is threatening food security for hundreds of millions of people and is destroying ocean ecosystems worldwide.

More than two-thirds (if not more) of large fish have been removed from the oceans, and one-third of the fish population has been reduced since 1950. Simply put, too many boats chase the wrong fish.

Human Rights on Land and at Sea

Changing the way we treat our oceans doesn’t only concern the creatures that live within them, but also about the people who depend on them. More than three billion people worldwide rely on oceans and coastal ecosystems to sustain their basic needs.

In the wake of the depletion of fish populations, as a result, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for fishing captains and companies to turn a profit. In the increasing number, untrustworthy operators are cutting costs by denying the fishermen and women who work on their vessels pay. A lot of them aren’t compensated despite working long hours and without ever even stepping foot on land for months, years, or even for decades. We heard horrifying stories of women and fishermen through interviews. Many were denied access to sufficient food or water, and some were forced to eat fish to live.

Both human rights and environmental issues are inextricably linked. Businesses that do not pay fishermen decent living wages could keep more boats on the water. This leads to overfishing and a vicious circle that threatens both our oceans and fishermen.

Commercial Whale Watching

It’s hard to believe commercial whaling still happens Isn’t it?

It was a common practice for so long, that many whale species were driven to the point of the brink of extinction. In the US the North Atlantic right whale is at 350 individuals. Blue whales living in Antarctica are down to less than 1% of their original population. The West Pacific grey whale population is the most threatened, having less than 100 remaining. The positive side is that the moratorium on whaling commercially Greenpeace and their allies won in 1986 — honored by all but Japan, Iceland, and Norway, and Iceland — is slowly helping most of the great whale populations to recover.