In July 2017 I received an email from Sister Libby Rogerson IBVM following her sabbatical at the United Nations office in New York. Sr Libby had attended the first Oceans Conference which debuted the screening of the Australian-made documentary film Blue, The Film, and she was convinced: the Loreto Normanhurst community needed to see this film. On Tuesday evening this conviction was realised at Loreto Normanhurst when this powerful film was projected on a large movie-screen to over 250 students, staff and parents.
The footage of the devastating impact of human activity on marine life was confronting: numerous sharks thrown back into the sea to suffocate after their fins have been cut off for the shark-fin soup industry, juvenile and endangered species of tuna being overfished and illegally caught for the sushi and canning industry, fishing nets cut loose from boats to float as ghost nets that entrap and drown turtles, seals and dolphins, seabird chicks from an uninhabited island whose stomachs are filled with the floating pieces of plastic from the ocean and ghostly white coral reefs as a consequence of climate change. On the flip-side, people left with a fire in their guts to affect change, rethink our relationship with plastic, reconsider the source of our seafood and be motivated to lobby for change at the government level.
The film closed with a message of hope, provided that we assist nature to restore our oceans. The natural world is truly resilient, with the establishment and maintenance of marine sanctuaries and positive changes in laws, diminishing fish stocks and marine life can be replenished in our lifetimes. However, it is abundantly clear that this won’t happen without action. We can all make changes to our behaviours and lifestyle that will have a positive impact on our oceans’ health:
- we can pick up plastic in our local environment to prevent it making its way into the waterways and ultimately the stomachs of marine life and sea birds;
- we can participate in regular beach clean-ups;
- we can reduce our own use of single-use, disposable plastic items by sourcing reusable or compostable alternatives;
- we can avoid cosmetic products that contain plastic microbeads;
- we can demand that shops reduce plastic packaging,;
- we can choose certified sustainable seafood from our supermarkets and menus;
- we can challenge restaurants that have overfished or threatened seafood (including blue-fin tuna, swordfish and cod) on their menus;
- we can reduce our non-renewable energy use;
- we can lobby our politicians for change in policy towards renewable energies and to put a stop to developments that threaten our oceans, including the Adani mine and deforestation; and
- we can bank with financial institutions that invest our money ethically.
What we cannot do is to sit back and hope that someone else will go out and make these things happen. History has taught us that apathy, burying one’s head in the sand and telepathic delegation are not successful strategies in bringing about change. Become an Ocean Guardian today.
Mrs Elizabeth Cranfield