Turning the tide

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Sponsored content by Julia Warrander and Russell Waite, of Affinity Private Wealth

THERE will be numerous reasons that each of us enjoys island life.

The challenges created by Covid have probably brought one to the fore and that is the endlessly appealing, calming natural beauty distinctive to places surrounded by water.

In fact, our positive emotional and psychological responses to ocean scenery, known as the blue effect, is well researched and documented. Exposure to beaches and seascapes measurably lowers our stress and boosts our sense of wellbeing.

Oceans, of course, also play an essential role in maintaining our planet’s wellbeing, particularly in the context of regulating the Earth’s weather and climate. They absorb, store and slowly release large quantities of heat reaching us from the sun. Ocean currents help to distribute this heat around the world and shape the climate of different continents. Additionally, our oceans absorb nearly one-third of the carbon-dioxide emissions we produce, providing a natural ‘sink’ to slow the impacts of global warming.

World economic wellbeing is something that is equally reliant on our oceans. If the global blue economy were compared to national ones, it would be the seventh-largest, earning it a seat at the G7 table. According to the UN Development Programme, this economic contribution is worth circa US$3trn per annum. From fishing, to shipping, to tourism, the ocean’s vast ecosystem provides an income for every tenth person in the world.

Finally, let’s not forget the role oceans play in maintaining our physical wellbeing. Fish and seafood are the main source of protein for 40% of the global population and more than 50% of the oxygen we breathe originates from small marine plants such asphytoplankton. This does not just benefit humankind; 80% of all life forms live in salty water.

Sadly, to the blue effect and the blue economy, we must now add the blue acceleration.

In 2009, academics from Stockholm University proposed using quantitative ‘planetary boundaries’, within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. Crossing these boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.

A team from the same research centre recently argued that human demands on the oceans were increasing at such a rate that they could lead to unpredictable consequences including economic and ecological collapses, or even military conflicts. A multitude of interest groups are laying claim to the resources of the oceans, from exploring the seabed for minerals and installing wind turbines to dispatching cruise ships and laying submarine cables.

The capacity to maintain a healthy ocean for the wellbeing and prosperity of current and future generations hinges on understanding of this blue acceleration, as it has been named by the Swedish scientists.

How can we help turn this damaging tide in ocean degradation in Jersey? The news that the proposal to establish a marine park here was not adopted by States Members last week is disheartening. It has left us feeling rather blue.

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