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Background to our recommendations

Healthy oceans are essential for life on earth to exist and all organisations must have a blue plan within their sustainability strategy. We must become net zero AND nature positive as healthy ecosystems are required for us all to survive. We must look beyond carbon and reduce all forms of pollution which impact both land and oceans:

  • Carbon dioxide, all other greenhouse gases, airborne particulate matter. Responsible for global warming, loss of arctic sea ice (black carbon) and multiple human diseases relating to air pollution. Dissolved CO2 leads to oceanic acidification which makes it harder for many species to survive, contributes to extinction and reduces marine biodiversity and biomass.

  • Heat energy produced by greenhouse gases. Responsible for global warming, loss of sea ice and widespread destruction of entire ecosystems such as coral reefs. Negative impact of melting permafrost not completely quantified.

  • Macro waste which we can see and sort. Waste damages the environment either directly or through processes required to manage or recycle. Macro waste can impact species such as turtles who mistake plastic bags for food such as jelly fish. All macro waste release chemicals, contaminating the environment through molecular pollution.

  • Molecular pollution (chemical contamination) which we cannot see and very difficult to control. Forever chemicals, microplastics, road vehicle tyre/brake dust (2nd largest source of ocean microplastic) and pharmaceuticals poison all species which live in the oceanic ecosystem from the tiniest cyanobacteria all the way up the food chain to whales and sharks.

  • Underwater Radiated Noise from container and cruise ships; human leisure activities. Marine species use their ears like we use eyes and noise impacts upon their ability to migrate, feed, reproduce and avoid predators. A noisy ocean leads to species harm from the largest of whales to the smallest of plankton leading to a reduction in marine biomass.

  • Eutrophication from agricultural land run-off and untreated sewage. Coastal eutrophication can lead to harmful algae blooms which can render coastal regions devoid of life with remaining species like shellfish becoming toxic with potentially fatal outcomes for humans.

  • Physical destruction including building, mining, marine mammal collisions (MMC), non-indigenous species transfer (NIS) and artificial light. Destruction and disturbance of habitat and direct trauma to larger species destroy coastal marine communities and can lead to loss of biodiversity.

Healthcare Ocean Actions

  • Get involved: all people need preventive and curative healthcare. Let’s extend this to caring for the health of our seas, coasts, and Ocean.

  • Increase awareness in the suppliers of healthcare goods, staff, and patients about the impacts of actions on the natural environment, particularly the Ocean.

  • Utilize the link between the healthcare sector to suppliers and carriers of goods, increase education around transparency of impacts, and work toward a sustainable supply chain.

  • Encourage suppliers to access externally verified environmental performance data and select the least environmentally harmful carriers for their goods and consider becoming signatories of coZEV (https://www.cozev.org/) to help decarbonize shipping.

  • Within local healthcare organizations, identify sources of potential waste and work to decrease use, repurpose where possible, and when disposal is necessary, recycle.

  • When evaluating the carbon impact of healthcare interventions such as pharmaceuticals, consider evaluating the impact on Ocean and waterways from molecular pollution.

  • Involve marine experts (including marine mammal experts), engineers, healthcare providers, educators, social scientists, and others in any research, training, and other activities.

  • Work with and empower healthcare providers, natural space managers and planners, natural scientists, patients, and communities toward more sustainable and mutually beneficial interactions between humans and the natural environment including the Ocean.

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