Why should you March For The Ocean on June 9? How will that help ocean ecosystems threatened by overfishing, climate change, plastic pollution and other issues? How can marches with even a hundred thousand people in over a dozen cities support healthier oceans? I often ask myself this question when an organization suggests a public display of affection for the ocean. Let’s call it Ocean PDA for short. How can Ocean PDA help the oceans?
Ocean PDA helps in a number of ways. First, it raises and validates the issue of ocean health to those who are unaware. And, unfortunately, that is a lot of people. Even among decision makers, recreational fishermen and coastal residents there can be a general lack of awareness about ocean issues. There are also many people who just don’t know or love the oceans, and it’s hard to want to protect what you don’t love. Spreading awareness and increasing this connection is the first objective of an Ocean PDA event. The second is to build and strengthen the ocean advocate community.
Working and fighting for something every day, much of the time without broader acknowledgement, is lonely. Ocean PDA brings ocean lovers together to celebrate our solidarity, reinforces that we’re not giving up, and gives us courage from our friends’ victories. Seeing thousands of ocean lovers around you validates your hard work and gives you the strength to go on. At these events, ocean scientists share their research, ocean leaders inspire us with their words and ocean activists motivate us. It feels great to see a ‘sea’ of faces and an ‘ocean’ of goodwill around you, all marching for the same goal—healthier oceans and a healthier world. This positive energy hopefully spills into the zeitgeist and creates change as well.
Marches with media coverage and advocacy can change minds, inspire and inform. Elected representatives sometimes pay attention to what’s happening in the streets and, in a democracy, peacefully demonstrating, marching and making noise are a valuable tool and right for its citizens. These tools grow rusty without use; our democracy becomes captured by those with the biggest checks, not the most public support. Thus, Ocean PDA events can spur change through directly engaging the public.
Lastly, we march because we have to. Ocean creatures like whales, sea turtles, seabirds and fish can’t march. They have no voice, so we must be their voices. The ocean has supported life on Earth for millions of years. It gives us half the oxygen we breathe, recycles our water, regulates our weather, soaks up the carbon dioxide we emit, and provides food for billions of people. We receive its gifts every day with every breath. It shouldn’t be too much for us to give something back, so wherever you are on June 9, show some Ocean PDA, hold a sign up, and March for the Ocean on behalf of our blue planet and its amazing wildlife!