Island communities have developed some of the most effective practices to support the sustainable use of coastal and ocean resources, we just have to take this into account.
In a vast area of ocean with around 30,000 known islands, traditional Pacific navigators have a reputation for saying, “first you choose your destination, then you figure out how to get there.”
The health of our ocean and all who depend on it faces a multitude of threats. If our destination is an ocean that provides nourishment and support for present and future generations, we have a lot of sailing to do, including a major correction to our current course. Indigenous communities know what is needed to preserve our oceans. Islanders have developed some of the most effective practices to support the sustainable use of coastal resources, from fishing techniques, tools and timing, to wise land use practices in watersheds affecting coral reefs and ecosystems. offshore. For example, some fishermen on the island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia use kites made from native breadfruit leaves and pandanus thorns to haul their fiberglass fishing lines. coco above the reef. They use shark muscle bands instead of hooks. They can only catch long-nosed needles and avoid other species, so nothing goes to waste. Chiefs in Palau prohibit fishing in reef channels during grouper spawning events (this practice is known as “bul”) to protect these important species when they are most productive and vulnerable. Palauans also protect mangrove forests and use taro fields to protect coastal coral reef ecosystems from damage from land runoff and sedimentation.
However, these traditional tenure systems did not have to solve the current problems. The ocean is suffering from the push-pull of too many toxic substances being introduced into it and too many valuable resources being extracted at levels that compromise the health and longevity of marine ecosystems.
Human-made pollution sources and pesticide use, microplastics, mercury accumulating in tuna, large-scale toxic sewage discharges, oil spills, industrial overfishing, illegal fishing, as well as global climate change all contribute to the destruction of the ocean.
While problems seem daunting, solutions do exist. Each of us can make decisions about the products we buy, such as avoiding single-use plastics and personal care products containing microbeads and researching the foods we eat.
Several mobile phone apps such as Seafood Watch help consumers determine if their fish is caught or farmed responsibly. Consumers can also pressure companies to reduce the use of products like glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup, commonly used in the US), which isn’t just used to kill weeds. , but also for drying oats.
All of these examples work, but effectiveness comes down to scale, consistency, broad engagement, and access to reliable information. Understanding the psychology of sustainability and effective climate change communication is key to changing behaviors at large scales.
If each person influences ten others to bring about significant change, there is hope, because one person begets ten, which begets 100 and affects 1,000. It is human nature to experience action fatigue and end up making a few gestures while continuing a majority of bad behaviors that are not sustainable. Politicians and decision makers can drive change. But the lack of political will to support ocean sustainability is the result of a combination of insufficiently and poorly communicated information (including from the scientific community), disengagement, voter cynicism and false advertising. of those who can profit financially from inaction.
Global climate change is the greatest threat to the world’s oceans and our entire planet. Substantial effects are already being felt from high sea surface temperatures leading to massive episodes of coral reef bleaching, reduced ocean productivity due to acidification, increased frequency and intensity of storms affecting marine ecosystems, sea level rise damaging coastal areas and migration of deep-sea fish due to warming waters.
Reducing local stressors is one strategy to save time and deal with the impacts of climate change, including using online calculators to track our carbon footprint and adjust accordingly. But there is urgency because atmospheric CO2 levels have already exceeded healthy limits. Reducing greenhouse gases, while still critical, will no longer be enough to protect many ecosystems, and carbon sequestration (the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide) will need to be considered on a larger scale.
Traditional leaders and stakeholders in the Pacific Islands always view their actions in the context of the legacy they leave for future generations. The longevity of what they leave behind does not match the myopic view of election cycles that guide many politicians. If our precious ocean ecosystems are to be protected for future generations, we need leaders who will act on the abundance of sound science we already have. Time is running out and the worst action is inaction. Our ocean is threatened but not doomed, and the outcome is entirely up to us.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)