3 Ways We’re Working to Make the Ocean Thrive

On World Oceans Day and every day, here’s how we’re protecting the planet's waters and its people.

World Oceans Day recognizes that we cannot live without a healthy ocean. All water and all people on this planet are connected, and whatever impacts a part eventually impacts the whole.

Fortunately, we are starting to catch on. Environmental justice, public health, climate change, and sustainable jobs are making headlines every day, and biodiversity is a shared priority for our survival. The ocean is a pillar for every one of these priorities, and we are fighting to make law and policy work for the entire ocean.

So what does it mean to see our world’s one ocean as the united living entity that it is — the original source of life and the very air we breathe? It means a lot of things, but these are three ways Earthjustice is working to transform our approach to the ocean.

Ending Illegal Seafood Imports

One world ocean means recognizing that fish do not recognize borders. It means demanding that fishing respect both ecosystem integrity and human rights. Illegal fishing devastates our ocean by catching unsustainable levels of fish using destructive gear in sensitive habitats. It also relies heavily on forced labor and slavery, and it plunders the fish that coastal communities around the world rely on.

That is why Earthjustice is working to end illegal fishing around the world, starting with U.S. imports.

The United States is the largest seafood importer in the world, spending billions a year on illegally harvested seafood. The country must stop buying this destructive catch in order to protect our domestic fishing industry, which is unfairly harmed by illegally low prices. A bill introduced this Congress — the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act — would take an important first step towards bringing U.S. imports in line with U.S. laws, and Earthjustice is asking Congress to pass this much-needed bipartisan legislation.

Protecting the Sea Floor From Mining

One world ocean means preserving the foundation of all marine life, not sacrificing it in pursuit of new energy and minerals. Alarmingly, some companies are claiming that mining the deep sea floor is the only way we can get the minerals we need to fuel our economy. This twisted logic threatens irreparable harm to the entire ocean in nominal pursuit of progress. Serious reform is needed to safely mine on land, and we can remove a lot of pressure on terrestrial ecosystems by more efficiently using and recycling the minerals we already have.

That is why Earthjustice is helping to build a sustainable economy that advances environmental justice and meets our clean energy goals while safeguarding our environment and minimizing risk of harm. As the newest member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, we are working with partners on land and at sea to ensure that clean energy is truly clean, and does not exploit one of the most sensitive and least understood places on the planet.

Keeping Sewage Contained

One world ocean means protecting coral reefs and human communities from toxic wastewater. Raw sewage wreaks havoc on ocean ecosystems by sending oxygen levels plummeting, feeding harmful algal blooms, poisoning fish, and suffocating corals. Wastewater also threats communities whose yards flood with fecal matter, whose drinking water is unsafe for days at a time, and whose swimming areas are dangerous and unusable.

That is why Earthjustice has joined the Ocean Sewage Alliance in taking an interdisciplinary approach to this systemic problem that will grow as our population does. Solving sewage means developing science-based policy that promotes public health and ocean health. With more than 80% of the world’s sewage flowing untreated into the ocean, ocean conservation community needs to recognize this crisis as originating on land, but impacting all life beneath the sea.

On World Oceans Day, we look forward to working with advocates around the globe on our shared goal: a healthy one world ocean.

Based in Washington, D.C., Danny Folds serves as Earthjustice’s oceans lobbyist and contributes to the overall work of the Lands, Wildlife, and Oceans team.

Established in 1989, Earthjustice's Policy & Legislation team works with champions in Congress to craft legislation that supports and extends our legal gains.