Cape Town - Cape Town's popular Two Oceans Aquarium says it is proud have joined the European Commission’s global “World Aquariums against Marine Litter” campaign.
Two Oceans together with 100 aquariums from around the world are part of the campaign launched at the iconic Oceanographic Museum of Monaco on 27 July.
The event was officiated by the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella together with HSH Albert II, Prince of Monaco, Head of the United Nations Environmental Programme, Mr Erik Solheim, and the CEO of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Doug Cress.
The campaign will highlight the impact of litter on the marine environment to their visitors and followers - and while designed to shock, it will also offer concrete solutions to prevent and fight marine litter.
Marine pollution is one of the six main themes of the forthcoming Our Ocean, An Ocean for Life conference (Malta, 5-6 October). This high-level international event will bring together ocean champions from government, civil society and business.
SEE: Save our ocean life with these 6 promises
"Aquariums are windows on the ocean, showcasing the beauty and diversity of life beneath the waves. However, the oceans are under threat as a result of human activities and one of the major threats is plastic pollution,” says Helen Lockhart Communications and Sustainability Manager of the Two Oceans Aquarium.
"It is our responsibility to inspire and empower people to see the connections between their actions and the health of the oceans, and to provide practical actions to lighten their footprint, including leading by example."
More plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050
Estimates are that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than fish. From the tiniest organism to the largest ocean behemoths, plastic poses a threat to all organisms in the ocean.
Over a million seabirds are killed each year due to plastic pollution and with over 51 trillion pieces of micro plastics in the ocean, microscopic plankton are feeding on plastic which causes the plastic to enter the food chain.
Just this week, endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh posted images of harmful plastic in what should be a pristine bay in front of the Smeerenburg Glacier in Spitsbergen.
He says it is "outrageous to find floating plastic in the High Arctic thousands of kilometres away from the nearest city".
The #ArcticDecade campaign has launched with a voyage between three of the Arctic nations – Norway, Canada and Russia - with Puch saying, “I am deeply shocked by what I am witnessing. I’ve been swimming amongst ice for 15 years. It’s a substance I know well. I am not a climate scientist, but what I am seeing looks like runaway climate change in the Arctic.”
SEE: PICS: Lewis Pugh’s #ArcticDecade campaign shows ‘runaway climate change'
"The Two Oceans Aquarium is proud to show what we are doing to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution. The more voices out there raising the alarm the better!"
The Aquarium runs six environmental campaigns, all aimed at reducing litter and therefore reducing the amount of litter that finds its way into the ocean.
From “Rethink the Bag”, which aims to have single use plastic shopping bags banned in South Africa, to “Straws Suck” which campaigns against the use of single-use plastic straws, the Aquarium’s campaigns focus on single-use and easily discarded items.
Each year on International Coastal Cleanup Day - taking place this year on 16 September 2017 - the Aquarium also organises a large-scale cleanup of a local beach. This year the cleanup will take place at Milnerton Lighthouse.
Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium’s website for tips on simple everyday choices that could have a positive impact on the marine environment and the environment as a whole.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- World Ocean Day 2017: Create awareness and appreciating the value of the ocean
- Here's how to help save the Cape's oceans
- #EcoTravels: It’s time to ditch the plastic