As a Green Monster, there is a good chance you have been very passionate about a cause at some point in your life. Maybe you helped stage a protest against animal testing or you baked vegan treats for your school’s spirit day. No matter how big or small the action, you know you have the power to create a more sustainable, healthy, and compassionate planet every single day – and so you wield that power wisely. Well, if you are looking for a little bit of inspiration to keep fighting for the sake of our environmental future – look no further than endurance swimmer, Lewis Pugh’s latest campaign to raise awareness for marine life.
According to a report in The Guardian, “Lewis Pugh is credited with playing an important role in the agreement earlier this year to create the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA) and make fishing off limits in much of the Ross Sea, a bay in the Southern Ocean.” The swimmer dove into frigid waters, lobbied the Russian government (which was in opposition of the MPA), and through what he calls “Speedo diplomacy,” was able to help secure the protection of this region. Now Pugh is looking to get three more areas in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea, and Antarctic peninsula, the same rights. This combined area is around the same size of Australia. Securing this MPA would ensure that the marine inhabitants that call this delicate ecosystem home are safe from the threat of commercial fishing fleets and other human industries.
Diving into freezing waters might seem like an extreme measure to protect open water – but we are running out of time to preserve our ocean ecosystems. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 80 percent of global fish stocks are “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.” Also, about 90 percent of large predatory fish stocks (sharks, swordfish, and bluefin tuna) have been diminished since the 1950s. With global fish stocks reaching an all-time low and demand for fish rising, scientists believe our oceans could collapse entirely by 2048 if we don’t take measures to stop.
Pugh plans to swim three miles in -1 Celcius waters in the Bellingshausen Sea on December 13, 2016. Followed by a two mile swim in the “whale graveyard” around South Georgia, the area where British sailors killed more than a million whales in the late 19th- and early 20th-century.
It is certainly a physically daunting and valiant feat to take on, but Pugh believes that creating these protected areas are vital to our future. “I think it’s very, very significant. How can we understand to properly protect ecosystems if we don’t even know what a healthy one looks like?” explained Pugh.
The fact is, it goes beyond observing the oceans – we need a healthy ocean to survive. These massive bodies of water provide us with around 70 percent of our oxygen, absord excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow the impact of climate change, and plays an important role in moderating the world’s climate. Without a thriving marine ecosystem, a healthy ocean is impossible. As ocean activist Captain Paul Watson has said many times, “If the oceans die, we die.”
We can all help Pugh in raising awareness for overfishing by sharing this article. You can also start making a difference by reducing or eliminating seafood and fish from your diet. Demand and profit drive the commercial industry, so every little bit to lower demand helps! To learn more about how you can help the planet with your food choices, join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.
Image source: Kevin Trautman