My home, Necker Island, is surrounded by the most beautiful blue seas full of such diverse wildlife. It really is as nature should be – thriving and healthy. But unfortunately, there are other parts of the ocean that are not in such a good state.
It’s terrifying when you read some of the facts: We’re fishing out the ocean at a rate that will leave nothing for our children, and their children; we’re choking it with plastic and other pollution; the ocean is getting hotter and more acidic, and having all sorts of nasty knock-on effects such as coral bleaching.
Like many people, I fell under the spell of the ocean as a child – fishing with my father – and this bond has grown stronger through the years. I snorkel and sail with my own children and grandchildren. But will future generations will be able to do the same? That’s up to us.
The bold announcement from President Modi’s in India to outlaw single use plastics in India by 2022 sets a positive tone for this World Oceans Day.
I really care about the ocean and can’t just sit back and watch it being destroyed. If restoring the ocean to health seems a daunting challenge, we should look below the waves for inspiration. Having had the huge privilege of swimming with magnificent creatures, such as humpback whales, whale sharks, and even getting a kiss from a stingray (not something I recommend), I am in total awe of our underwater world.
That is why I joined the Ocean Elders and why our companies like Virgin Australia have partnered with Greening Australia to invest in preventing sediment run-off that is harming the Great Barrier Reef.
Just last month, Greening Australia announced the results from the first phase of its Reef Aid program which show a 97 per cent reduction in soil run-off reaching the Great Barrier Reef. Virgin Australia is focused on supporting projects that provide practical solutions and results like this prove that the partnership with Greening Australia is helping to make a real difference to improving the Reef’s water quality.
Virgin Unite started Ocean Unite to create partnerships that benefit the ocean. Anyone can be an Ocean ally, in fact our motto is “The Ocean is Everybody’s Business”. So far, our work has united a diverse network that embraces politicians, business people, scientists, artists, students, extreme swimmers and even a Russian ice-hockey champion. Recent collaborations include working with Playmob to make gaming a force for good for the ocean, with jewellery makers Alex & Ani, who are donating proceeds from their special Waveslider necklace to Ocean Unite projects, and with the insurance giant XL Catlin, the IUCN and others, to hold the world’s first Ocean Risk Summit.
To give a quick progress report: about seven percent of the ocean has been designated by countries for some sort of protection – just two percent is strongly protected (which is what scientists say works best), and Ocean Unite is proud to have played a part in helping secure a unanimous vote to create the Ross Sea MPA by the 24 member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. One Antarctic MPA down, at least two more to go.
We’d love others to join us. I hope you will join the movement to make saving the ocean the biggest, most inclusive, most successful collaborations the world has ever seen. Dive in at Ocean Unite.