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This SDG was created to help protect marine and coastal environments from our activities on land and at sea. The majority of the world benefits directly from the ocean, whether it be through fishing, tourism, or transportation. Think about all of the major cities worldwide that lie near major bodies of water. We all directly impact the water we drink and use for recreation. It isn’t uncommon for our waterways to be contaminated with debris and runoff from humans. Our water is a communal resource for all; therefore, we all have a responsibility to protect it.
One of the biggest issues regarding our water is overfishing. Sadly, overfishing has become such a problem around the world that fish stocks may never recover. Updated management systems and monitoring must be implemented for fish and shellfish populations to be sustainably farmed. Interestingly, fishing subsidies may contribute to the problem of overfishing by fueling the fishing industry without adequate regulations.
Similarly, a strong effort is needed to restore marine environments and combat the issue of ocean acidification that’s directly impacting coral reef ecosystems. The United Nations recommends that 10% of coastal areas need to be protected. Unfortunately, there are only 38 countries that have protected 10% or more of coastal areas. Of the territories and countries that have protected areas, the United States ranks 8th worldwide with almost 42% of coastal areas protected. For comparison, Jamaica ranks 95/155 with 0.7% of coastal areas protected. It should also be noted that even if a country protects a lot of coastal areas, the protection may not be strict.
So how do we move forward? Developed nations can help developing nations by providing marine technology and knowledge through cooperation and assisted development. In general, we can all help by pushing our government to create and enforce stricter legislation regarding the use of our bodies of water. If we don’t make changes to our lifestyles now, our grandchildren may not be able to enjoy things like snorkeling, SCUBA diving, or even a good fish filet sandwich. Therefore, it’s important for us all to put our money into companies that are serious about protecting our marine environments. We must encourage companies to pollute less and take better care of our water.
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