World Ocean Day: What every Namibian should know and how we can all commemorate it.

Mutindi Lydia Jacobs

World Ocean Day is celebrated every year on June 8th to raise awareness about the importance of oceans and marine life. The noble idea came about during the Earth summit held in Rio De Janeiro Brazil, when Canada as a member state to the Summit, proposed the concept of a “World Ocean Day”. The intention for marking this day was and is, to celebrate the interdependence we have on oceans and seas, whilst spreading awareness on the depleting standards of marine life and ocean water.

The United Nations General Assembly officially recognised the 8th of June as World Ocean Day in 2008 which was proceeded by numerous events, including the launch of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council which developed a multi-year Conservation Action Focus, for the prevention of plastic pollution in our oceans and the development of solutions.
Passionately engaged in ocean conservation efforts in their communities, the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council is comprised of youth members who are 20-25 years old and hail from countries all over the world. The mission of the Council is to raise the profile of our shared ocean, connect and unite youth and others around our blue planet, and focus collective action on creating a healthier ocean and climate throughout the year. Namibian youth meeting the requirements are hereby called upon to apply into this noble cause, as our country has never been represented on the Council before.
The importance of the ocean in the Namibian context cannot be overemphasised. With a coastline stretching over 1572 km, the ocean is home to a diverse range of marine life, including whales, dolphins, seals, and various species of fish. The country’s fishing industry is one of the largest contributors to its economy, providing employment opportunities for thousands of people. However, overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices have led to a decline in fish stocks in recent years. World Ocean Day provides an opportunity for Namibians to reflect on their relationship with the ocean and take action to protect it.
The theme for World Ocean Day 2023 is “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”. It is a reminder that even though the oceans cover most of the Earth, little attention is given to the unprecedented challenges being faced the seas on which humans rely for a variety of resources, and that it is the collective responsibility of all to protect it. This theme highlights the crucial role that oceans play in sustaining life on earth and supporting livelihoods around the world. In Namibia, the ocean provides food and income for many coastal communities. However, these communities are also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and ocean acidification.
To mark World Ocean Day in Namibia, various events are organized across the country. These events include beach clean-ups, educational programs, and community outreach initiatives usually organised by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. One of the key initiatives undertaken by Namibia to protect its oceans is the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs are designated areas where human activity is restricted or prohibited to conserve biodiversity and protect critical habitats. Namibia has established several MPAs along its coastline, including the Dorob National Park and the Skeleton Coast National Park. These protected areas provide a sanctuary for marine life and support the recovery of fish stocks.
Another important initiative is the implementation of sustainable fishing practices. Namibia’s fishing industry has adopted measures such as catch quotas, size limits, and gear restrictions to ensure that fish stocks are not depleted. The government has also introduced a system of community-based natural resource management, which empowers local communities to manage their own fisheries sustainably.
In addition to these initiatives, Namibia is also working towards reducing plastic pollution in its oceans. The country has banned single-use plastic bags and is implementing a deposit-refund scheme for beverage containers. These measures aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, where it poses a significant threat to marine life. The oceans play a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth. They not only provide us with food, but also regulate our climate and produce the majority of the oxygen we breathe. In addition, they serve as the foundation for much of the world’s economy, supporting industries ranging from tourism to fisheries to international shipping. World Ocean Day is an important event for Namibia as it provides an opportunity for Namibians to reflect on their relationship with the ocean and take action to protect it. Government initiatives alone, cannot stop the wanton destruction of our ocean and every Namibian must take steps to protect our ocean and avoid its further degradation and destruction.
Here are some steps that you can take today to help save our ocean:

  1. Reduce plastic waste: Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our oceans. To reduce plastic waste, we can start by using reusable bags, bottles, and containers. We can also avoid single-use plastics such as straws, utensils, and packaging.
  2. Support sustainable fishing practices: Overfishing is another major threat to our oceans. To support sustainable fishing practices, we can choose seafood that is certified by organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) which certify sustainable fishing practices.
  3. Reduce carbon emissions: Climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise, which is having a devastating impact on marine life. To reduce carbon emissions, we can start by using public transportation, biking or walking instead of driving alone in a car. We can also reduce energy consumption at home by turning off lights and electronics when not in use.
    By taking small steps to reduce our impact on the environment every day, we can help protect our oceans for future generations. Happy World Ocean Day.
    Mutindi Lydia Jacobs
    Chief Legal Officer at the Directorate Law Reform, Ministry of Justice
    LLB, Masters in the Law of the Sea

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