World Oceans Day 2020

As we celebrate World Oceans Day (8 June) this year it’s impossible not to dwell on the fact that we’re doing so in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Rarely does something come along that so unites the world in a common cause. While different countries have responded, and been affected, in different ways we’re all facing the same challenge. To overcome this virus and move on.

We’re all feeling the effects of being separated from loved ones. We’re all conscious of the restrictions that prevent us from the travel we’d become used to. The world which has been getting smaller for centuries, has suddenly become bigger. And more divided. It’s kind of ironic that this thing that connects us all is also keeping us apart.

You could think about the ocean in the same way. The ocean stands between nations, it forms a barrier, and keeps us apart. But it also connects us all. Because we all share one ocean. And we all rely on the health of that one ocean for our shared well-being.

We tend to look at the world from the perspective of our islands. But, of course, there are many that see things the other way around. From human adventurers who make the ocean a temporary home. To the migrating animals that connect the dots of the land around their permanent oceanic world. For them the ocean is one space. There are no borders, no barriers. What we do to one part of the ocean affects what happens in another.

There are no borders, no barriers. What we do to one part of the ocean affects what happens in another.

The Blue Shark is one of those great ocean wanderers. Sleek and slim, these beautiful animals travel thousands of miles on their annual journey. They move in and out of the territories of up to 145 countries. North Atlantic Blue Sharks drop by the waters of the UK in the summer months, before journeying south, then westwards to the Americas. They are placid and inquisitive sharks. A snorkeller in the right place at the right time can enjoy the thrilling company of a Blue Shark for several minutes before it gets bored and swims away.

Blue Sharks travel thousands of miles on their annual journey. They move in and out of the territories of up to 145 countries.

The Blue Shark is an icon. It represents that one-ocean connection between us all. We call them “British Sharks” but that is, of course, nonsense. They belong to everyone. And they belong to no-one. But sadly, the most travelled of all sharks also happens to be the most fished. What happens in one part of the ocean affects what happens in another. So, it’s vital that nations work together to ensure these sharks can be spared from the damaging effects of overfishing.

Last year, after years of campaigning, the 53 parties that oversee international fishing on the Atlantic high-seas finally agreed to place a catch limit on Blue Sharks. It’s a vital first step to ensuring the population is managed sustainably. It might seem incredible that this has never happened before. But this step forward is only for the Blue Shark. And while the Blue Shark might be the most fished, it’s not the most threatened.

Many more sharks continue to be fished without limits. The Shortfin Mako, the world’s fastest shark, is on a fast track to disappearing from the North Atlantic due to continued overfishing. We need to act fast.

The ocean belongs to us all, collectively. We all put in and we all take out. So, we have to act collectively. We’ll all suffer if we fail and we’ll all benefit if we succeed. Only by nations acting together can we restore the health of that one ocean that connects us and sustains us all.

Only by nations acting together can we restore the health of that one ocean that connects us and sustains us all.

This year has seen the cancellation or postponement of many important meetings and initiatives aimed at increasing international cooperation. It’s a big loss but we will prevail. For our part, we’re committed to international action and coordination. Working together we can bring an end to overfishing and safeguard the future of sharks.


How can you help?

5 ways you can help sharks and our ocean

► Find out more about our No Limits? campaign - together let's stop uncontrolled shark fishing