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Unexplored waters

– 16th of Sept 2019 –

Ocean preservation

The ocean is a vast and mysterious body of saltwater that covers around 70% of our planet’s surface and connects all countries and people. 1 We are all dependent on these waters for our comfort and survival so let's have a look at ocean preservation.

Why we should care

The ocean regulates our weather and climate by absorbing and storing the sun’s heat. Ocean currents transport this heat around the world, making sure every country gets the heat it deserves and hereby shape regional climates. Without these currents regional temperatures would be more extreme and make our planet a pretty uncomfortable place. 2

70% of the world’s oxygen is generated by the ocean. More specifically it’s the photosynthesis process of phytoplankton, kelp and algal plankton which is casually producing oxygen as a by-product. 3

The ocean is the world’s largest habitat and is the home of an incredible diversity of life. 4 By now around 200.000 different species have been identified and researchers are far from done, they discover new marine species on a daily basis. 5

Around 90% of world trade is carried out by sea. This makes the ocean our biggest highway and of vital importance to the world’s economy. However, the increase in sea traffic, has also brought unwanted negative consequences such as pollution. 6

Globally, people are dependent on the ocean for survival, food and income.For a vast number of people living in coastal areas fish makes up the majority of their daily protein intake.A healthy ocean is crucial for their survival. 

What is going wrong?

Human activities are harming the ocean. Man-made climate change is warming our bodies of water, changing its chemistry and rising its sea levels turning the marine habitat into a threat for those it shelters. But we don’t stop there. Humankind is also polluting the ocean and threatening its ecosystem through industrial fishing. 7

The biggest threats to our ocean

Plastic soup - Plastic accounts for more than half of the overall ocean pollution. Every minute, one garbage truck of plastics is dumped into our ocean. If we continue like this, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. With plastic packaging being a major contributor to the problem. 8 If you agree that the only soup, we should be brewing is the nutritional kind, we highly recommend you say no to single-use plastics. Our favourite anti-plastics place on the internet is Lauren Singer’s zero-waste blog Trash is for Tossers

Microplastics - A piece of plastic is officially called micro when it’s smaller than 5mm. 9 Microplastics are coming from everywhere. One source of microplastics is big pieces of plastic, such as packaging, that somehow end up in nature where they will degrade into smaller pieces and become microplastics over time. The biggest source of microplastics is synthetic clothing and accountsfor 35%. Back in the days clothing used to be made from natural fibres such as cotton and wool. Nowadays, the majority of our clothes is made from synthetic fibres like polyester or nylon because they are cheaper to produce. 10

When synthetic clothing is washed it sheds microplastic fibres. In 2016 researchers from the University of Plymouth in the U.K. pointed out that one single load of laundry could release up to 700.000 microplastics, which is the equivalent to the surface area of a pack of gum.  11

These microplastics bypass wastewater treatments as they are too small to be filtered out. This is how countless plastic fibres make their way from washing machines into rivers and eventually the ocean. In the ocean microplastics form a life-threatening danger to marine life, as they end up eating plastic thinking it’s food. 12 Via the food chain these particles eventually end up on our plates. A new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology says it’s possible that humans are consuming anywhere between 39.000 to 52.000 microplastic particles per year.  13

You can keep microplastics out of the ocean by opting for natural fabrics instead of synthetic ones and washing your synthetic clothing in a fibre filter bag such as Guppyfriend.

Coral reefs are dying, and fish are confused - Thanks to climate change our ocean is getting hotter and more acidic, making the water less habitable for all living organisms. CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean, catalysing chemical reactions and increasing the ocean’s acidity which is measured in pH. For around 24 million years the acidity of the ocean remained relatively stable between 8 pH and 8,3 pH. However, since the industrial revolution our ocean has become 28% more acidic. Basically, our oceans are turning sour and so is the sea life. 14

Ocean acidification is weakening corals, making them turn white which is often referred to as “coral bleaching”. It softens the shells of scallops and slows the rate at which crabs and lobsters change skin.This increased acidity also confuses fish as their smell changes in this new environment. 15

There is not plenty of fish in the sea - Industrial fishing is one of the most significant drivers of the decline in ocean wildlife populations. Catching fish is not per definition a bad thing. Except for when we are catching more and faster than stocks can replenish, which is called overfishing and is what we are a straight A student at. 16

Industrial fishing vessels are equipped with heavy machinery and modern technology turning them into floating factories, that catch, process and pack as much fish as possible. In just 50 years of industrial-scale commercial fishing, mankind has managed to cut the population of large ocean predatory fish such as tuna, swordfish and sharks by 90%. This void of fish in the ocean does not only threaten the livelihoods of fishers and an important source of protein but also unbalances the ocean’s ecosystem. 17

The issue of overfishing and the depletion of these predatory speciesis closely linked to bycatch, the accidental capture of non-target species such as dolphins, marine turtles and sea birds. Each day, thousands of kilometres of fishing nets and lines are set up all around the world. This modern gear is often extremely strong and undetectable by sight. Their invisibility makesthem perfect for catching the desired species as well as anything else that comes on their path. An alarmingnumber of marine life gets pulled up with the catch and is then thrown overboard, dying or dead. 18

Nets are ghosting - Around 50% of the ocean plastic waste is made up of fishing nets - so called ghost nets - making it a major threat to all sea life. 19 Fishing vessels lose, discard or abandon around 640.000 tonnes of fishing gear every year, oopsies.The lost fishing nets float through the oceans like ghosts trapping, injuring and killing fish along the way. Once there’s too many dead fish stuck in the nets they sink to the ground. After a while the dead fish decay and the nets are ready for the next round of pointless killing. This cycle continues until the nets wash ashore or degrade, which may take months to years.  20

Illegal fishing - Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing undermines national and international laws. Those exist to manage fisheries sustainably as well as to conserve and protect marine biodiversity. In many maritime regions of the world, IUU fishing is majorly contributing to the rapid depletion of fish stocks, especially in developing countries’ coastal regions. Many of these countries’ coast guards do not have their own patrol ships needed to protect their waters from IUU fishing. 21

Unfortunately forced labour and slavery are common practise onboard IUU fishing vessels. Men often board these ships willingly, seeking work. Once they are isolated at sea, their wages are withheld, and they are subjected to violent, inhumane working conditions. Some enslaved fishers don’t even see land for years. 22

Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd is an international NGO whose mission is to defend, conserve and protect the ocean and marine wildlife through direct-action campaigns. In Africa they work with countries that do not have offshore patrol vessels  - which leaves them vulnerable to IUU fishing - to enforce national and international fisheries and conservation laws. Here’s where Sea Shepherd acts on the front line collaborating with local authorities, by providing crewed civilian patrol vessels and taking their law enforcement personnel on board to patrol and inspect protected areas. The organization operates with a fleet of 12 vessels, playing a crucial role in their campaigns.

MUD Jeans x Sea Shepherd

To do our part in reviving the oceans we’ve teamed up with Sea Shepherd to create
a capsule collection. The profits will go to support their mission against illegal fishing and plastic pollution. Be the first to discover our joined collection.


Our Sources

1. www.nationalgeographic.com | 2. www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov | 3. www.nationalgeographic.org | 4. www.nationalgeographic.org | 5. www.stories.undp.org | 6. www.business.un.org | 7. www.nationalgeographic.com | 8. www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org | 9. www.stopmicrowaste.com | 10. www.stopmicrowaste.com | 11. www.sciencedirect.com | 12. www.wwf.org.uk | 13. www.nbcnews.com | 14. www.nationalgeographic.com | 15. www.nationalgeographic.com | 16. www.worldwildlife.org | 17. www.nytimes.com | 18. www.worldwildlife.org | 19. www.seashepherdglobal.org | 20. www.worldanimalprotection.us | 21. www.fao.org | 22. www.nationalgeographic.com

Dion Vijgeboom