Oceans were formed a million years ago by degassing the Earth's interior and through a gradual accumulation of water by condensation in the form of rain. It’s a whole body of saltwater and the biggest water resource on the Earth, which helps precipitation, is used for transportation, provides food, and a treasure of recreation for humans. They cover about 71% of the Earth's surface. There is a global ocean, also called the world ocean and five ocean basins: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and the Antarctic. Altogether, they play an important role in supplying oxygen to and absorbing carbon dioxide from the earth.
Oceans, seas and marine resources play a key role in sustaining societal needs. They provide us with nutritional resources ( fish and marine animals), medicinal benefits (essential omega-3 fatty acids, and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)), that support proper brain functioning. The ocean-based marine environment plays a pivotal role in backing our economy and supports an array of recreational activities. However, a significant increase in marine pollution has brought about a rapid change in the ocean’s quality. Problems such as oil spills, solid waste, wastewater effluent discharges, and plastic pollution are of serious concern. Besides, other problems such as overfishing, improper garbage disposal, acidification, mercury pollution, off-shore drilling, ocean warming, destruction of coral reef, climate change and exploitation of aquatic species, etc., add to the overall peril.
Governments across the globe are taking actions and have initiated cleanup activities. A recent initiative was taken in 2018 by the Indian government "National Marine Litter Policy", focusing on checking the flow of plastic waste into oceans. These initiatives are being funded by various agencies, including government and private organizations, but, there exists a lack of effective implementation and monitoring strategy. An effective monitoring strategy can help stop overfishing, and safeguard the aquatic species. Similarly, effluent discharges must not be directed into water bodies before proper treatment, as it consists of high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and dissolved solids, that harm aquatic life.
Oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the Earth’s life forms and keep the atmosphere cool, leading to a rapid change in their pH, turning acidic in nature. This process is further escalated as the excess carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels limit the requirement of calcium carbonate by coral, planktons, and other marine life forms. Therefore, we must stop using fossil fuels and adapt to using green technologies. There is an urgency to address these key issues globally:
● Off-shore drilling is a global issue. While extracting oil from the- ocean surface, chemicals like mercury, arsenic, and lead come up along with it and cause severe environmental damage- Mechanical scraping of oil spills by using newer technologies, a chemical treatment that separates water from oil must be encouraged and adopted. One of the examples explained in the video below:
● Coal-fired power plants are a major source of mercury pollution and lead to contamination of seafood, it has neurotoxin that can alter the functioning of human brains. Renewable sources of energy generation - wind energy, solar energy plants, etc., must be promoted and set-up globally.
To survive and to be enriched, oceans need to be healthy. The diversity and productivity of the world's oceans are of vital interest to humankind. Our economy’s survival and security depend on our oceans and it is imperative that we take all the necessary steps to ensure that our oceans remain healthy.