The World’s Ocean is essential to life on our planet. It is the largest source of oxygen providing approximately 70% of the air that we breathe and absorbs around 25% of our carbon dioxide emissions. It is a source of food and sustains billions of livelihoods globally. It also provides coastal protection and is a vehicle for international trade while regulating weather and mitigating impacts of climate change.
Unfortunately, human activity is putting the health of this natural resource in peril. From habitat degradation caused by nutrient, chemical and plastics pollution, overfishing and unsustainable fishing to impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels, increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, our Ocean is suffering.
However, there are many international, regional and national campaigns and initiatives that are placing the Ocean at the forefront.
Much of Nikola’s work revolves around promoting sustainable fisheries management and reduction of plastic pollution in the context of the Blue Economy. From chatting with youth to fisherfolk and other stakeholders, Nikola acts as an intermediary between the people and politics. She is inspiring society to make small changes that have big impact towards an environmentally sustainable and conscious Caribbean.
With the creation of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy* in Barbados in mid 2018, Nikola is hopeful of the action that Barbados and the Caribbean region will take to sustainably manage our Ocean resources.
[*The Blue Economy is generally described as the sustainable use of ocean resources for ocean ecosystem health, economic growth and improved livelihoods and jobs (adapted from EU). It covers established oceans-related sectors such as fisheries, maritime transport, shipbuilding and tourism as well as new and emerging industries, including renewable ocean energy and biotechnology].
As a country, Barbados has the potential to make our fisheries more sustainable, designate marine spaces as marine managed areas and to look towards marine biotechnology and renewable offshore energy which will help us to continue to build resilience to changes in climate.
As individuals, we can also play our role in sustainably using the Ocean’s resources. Here are some tips on how you can help:
- Make sustainable seafood choices – choose lionfish, dolphinfish and flying fish and avoid shark and marlin!
- Reduce your plastic use and choose to reuse!
- Reduce use of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals that enter our water sources and damage our coral reefs
- Reduce energy use – switch to renewable!
- Get involved with a local NGO that is acting to protect our Ocean such as Slow Food Barbados, CORALL or the Future Centre Trust.
If we protect the Ocean, it will continue to support and protect us.