This is Our Ocean!

Aquarium Berlin supports EU campaign to tackle marine pollution

Last week the EU campaign “Our Ocean – World Aquariums Against Marine Litter” was launched in an attempt to combat the devastation of the world’s oceans caused by increased littering. Aquarium Berlin is proud to support this important initiative to raise awareness of the problem of large-scale marine pollution.

Even if you can’t see the ocean, you can still feel the impact

Oceans cover roughly three quarters of the Earth’s surface, making up the planet’s largest ecosystem. Huge areas of this underwater world still remain unexplored. Unfortunately, however, humans are increasingly using the world’s oceans as a massive dumping ground for plastics and other harmful substances. We want to inform visitors to Aquarium Berlin about the extremely worrying condition of our oceans and seas. 

Small particles with major consequences

Tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every day. Plastic takes an extremely long time to break down and therefore has a devastating impact on marine flora and fauna, making vast swathes of the ocean uninhabitable. It is believed that up to one in every seven sea turtles has accidentally ingested plastic. Since they cannot digest this material, it remains inside their bodies, causing great harm. In coastal areas, coral growth is suffocating under a mass of accumulated trash. These habitats end up desolate, as other marine creatures depend on the diverse flora and fauna of coral reefs to sustain them. Even plastic products that are more easily degradable, such as yoghurt pots, still leave behind small particles known as microplastics that are swallowed by animals and remain undigested in their bodies.

Vast carpets of litter

Enormous patches of litter twice the size of Germany are currently floating in the Pacific and Atlantic, polluting marine habitats and putting a huge strain on the ecosystem. As well as plastics, toxic and hazardous waste such as oil, fertilisers and medical products also make their way into the oceans and contaminate the water. 

The price of beauty

Cosmetic products also contain large quantities of harmful plastics that wreak havoc on the natural world. Many exfoliating scrubs, for example, contain tiny plastic microbeads that get washed down the drain and enter our oceans. Here they are ingested by marine animals such as fish – and may well end up on our dinner plates. Not very appetising! 

How can I help?

To stop the natural habitat of thousands of species from being destroyed, it is vital that society becomes more aware of the issue of marine pollution. Over the coming weeks, Aquarium Berlin will install signs providing information about the extremely worrying condition of our planet’s oceans. The signs will include recommendations on how each and every one of us can do our part to limit or completely avoid unnecessary waste. It all starts with our daily shopping habits. For example, the plastic rings used in beverage multi-packs kill many animals that get caught in them or accidentally swallow them.

Seafood-lovers should only buy products that at the very least display the blue label of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). But caution is required: many other “sustainable fishing” labels and symbols are in use that look very similar at first glance but do not uphold anywhere near the same standards. 

Responsible meal choices

The Earth’s marine life is also threatened by extreme overfishing. At present, every single species of fish native to our oceans either is or should be classified as threatened. This is largely the result of large-scale fishing. Fish are being caught in too great a number to allow them to repopulate. This includes a large amount of “bycatch” – marine animals that are caught unintentionally and simply discarded. While sustainable fishing practices do exist, these have only served to slow the pace of overfishing and cannot prevent it in the long term.

Pass it on!

In partnership with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Aquarium Berlin and many other aquariums around the world are taking on the task of raising general awareness about the crisis of our oceans and educating the public about what they can do to help. The oceans are home to thousands upon thousands of plant and animal species, and we must all do our part to protect them. 

For more information about the campaign and the “Our Ocean” conference in Malta this October, visit: https://ourocean2017.org/campaigns/world-aquariums-against-marine-litter

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