It is said that the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. So what, then, is the cure for the sea should it need saving? It should come as no surprise that the ocean is in broad trouble.
As a passionate diver and board member of Project 0, I was really pleased to hear that the United Nations have now set a goal for ocean health as one of the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which will come into force in January 2016.
Now while this is great news, it seems long overdue. These new "goals" will replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of the year. These older sustainability goals failed hideously to address the problems at sea.
I am not a scientist or a journalist, but it seems to me that the ocean is an integral aspect of human existence on this planet.
I'm sure you may have noticed some plastic on a beach or coastline? Have you ever gone further and pondered how much worse this would be if no one picked it up -- or how much better it would be if it wasn't there in the first place? It's thought to take a minimum of 500 years for plastics to biodegrade, which should puzzle the anthropologists of the future.
Have you ever thought about all the tuna in every deli in the United States and all around the world? Today a shocking 90 percent of fish are either fully fished or overfished. Despite whatever anyone tells you, tuna does not grow on trees, which is a good thing because if it did, we would have chopped them down and have them paved over to make way for another Red Lobster.
I just celebrated my 30th birthday, which despite the hangover I guess, still makes me a somewhat younger person. Fifteen years ago, I used to enjoy diving in places that are now void of the bright coral and abundant sea life once there. One might imagine that older people who have lived longer have seen more changes -- but it seems to me that things are going downhill very quickly.
I've since learned that the downfall of one favourite reef of mine was due to run-off from a nitrogen-rich fertilizer being used to spruce up a lawn on the adjacent headland. The gardener probably had no idea it was responsible for the death of an entire reef system. Sadly, I think this is systemic of our modern convenience culture. Often we are convinced we need something we really don't.
So while these Sustainable Development Goals are great news from on high, we must all also do something daily to help our beleaguered ocean. It's really just common sense. I recently saw a video of a plastic straw being extracted from the nose of a turtle. Ask yourself: do you really need that plastic straw in your soda or the plastic stirrer in your mojito? There are dozens of websites offering useful suggestions on how to reduce your plastic and carbon footprints, and make ocean-friendly seafood choices.
There are some great apps for making this really simple, like the Good Fish Guide or the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. If you feel that this is just a drop in the ocean, then impress your behavior change too onto friends and family. One less straw may not seem significant, but 318 million a week will make a big dent.
The bottom line is that there is no "them versus us." There is only us. One ocean: one planet. It's fabulous news that the UN has put the ocean on its sustainability goals, but that's just a start. It's in deep trouble, but we can fix it.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 14.