Our Oceans, Our Future


The concept of a 'World Oceans Day' was first proposed by the UN General Assembly in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as a way to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea, as well as to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it.

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) sponsors the World Ocean Network, which has since 2002 been instrumental in building support for ocean awareness events on 8 June.

Some Ocean Facts

The world's oceans drive global ecosystems that make make our earth habitable. All our drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, most of our food and even the oxygen we breathe rely on the sea. In addition mankind has used the oceans to establish contact with other civilisations, trade and transportation. Human kind owes it to future generations to keep this essential resource and ensure its sustainability for generations to come. 

Facts and Figures 

  • Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume.
  • Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
  • Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP.
  • Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions.
  • Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
  • Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 2.6 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein.
  • Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people.
  • Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are preventing efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$ 50 billion less per year than they could.
  • As much as 40 per cent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats.

Read Australian's Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston's media release that looks at some of the work Australia is doing to look after our oceans. "For three consecutive years now, ABARES has found that no solely Commonwealth-managed fishery has been subject to overfishing, and over the past 11 years, we've seen an increasing number of fish stocks with sustainable classification.

UNESCO's Director General's message can be accessed here


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