Over the course of the four weeks I worked with the North American Marine Environment…
In 2008, the United Nations declared June 8th as World Ocean Day in order to recognize the vital human connection with the ocean and the value it provides to all life on Earth (First Post, 2021). It is also a day to raise awareness about the need to protect the ocean and the responsibility each individual has on maintaining its health. Furthermore, as climate change continues to degrade and alter the environment, this day is more important than ever to raise urgency on the importance of making sustainable choices, working to protect the ocean, and on how our daily actions impact the ocean ecosystem.
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has posed, the UN is virtually hosting this year’s World Ocean Day, with a theme of “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods.” The theme illuminates how crucial the ocean is in sustaining human physical, cultural, and economic life as well as the life of all species (UN, 2021). This year’s theme is especially important as it is the lead up to the UN’s “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development” where, from 2021-2030, the UN will work to strengthen international involvement in oceanic scientific research and technology (UN,2021). World Ocean Day 2021 falls at a time when the world is facing devastating health and climatic issues, making it a critical time for the global community to unite and work to protect our ocean.
To celebrate World Ocean Day, the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) teamed up with our partner members, Fairfield Chemical Carriers (FCC), in a waterway cleanup. FCC is an international chemical carrier that transports cargoes in modern stainless steel chemical tankers. FCC has offices in The Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Japan, and the United States with 40 vessels that travel to over 450 ports worldwide. FCC is a corporate member of NAMEPA and an annual sponsor. Fairfield Chemical Carriers strives to help protect the ocean and engage in sustainable work practices. Through our partnership, Fairfield Chemical Carriers supports NAMEPA in our mission to educate, advocate, and activate the maritime industry, as well as encourage students of all ages and the general public to Save Our Seas.
The World Ocean Day cleanup was carried out in collaboration with new supporters, the City of Norwalk. Norwalk’s City Neighborhood Improvement Coordinator, David Shockley, helped secure locations and plan the logistics of the cleanup. Luis Estrella, who also works with the City of Norwalk, was present at the cleanup and supplied participants with trash pickers, trash bags, reusable gloves, and local guidance, as well as disposed of the trash afterward.
Not only does the City of Norwalk help and support local nonprofits, but they also run their own environment conservation initiatives. The City of Norwalk through its “Keep Norwalk Beautiful” program works to clean up litter and remove graffiti. The City of Norwalk, and specifically Mr. Shockley and Mr. Estrella, were a huge support, and it was a pleasure working with them.
NAMEPA, Fairfield Chemical Carriers, and Luis Estrella met in Norwalk for a brief overview and safety instructions prior to splitting into groups to clean up the area along the Norwalk River at 40 Cross Street and Veteran’s Park and Marina. The cleanup was very successful with a lot of trash picked up, ranging from cigarette butts to soda cans, and even a cherub and flipflops. At the end of the 2-hour cleanup, we had collected 10 bags of debris which weighed 94 pounds in total!
For this year’s World Ocean Day, NAMEPA sought to create meaningful connections with local partners and help reduce the amount of waste going into the ocean. NAMEPA also wanted to highlight that 80% of all ocean trash originates from land. We focused on cleaning the Norwalk River to decrease the amount of waste that could travel down the river and into the ocean. By teaming up with Fairfield Chemical Carriers and the City of Norwalk, not only did NAMEPA strengthen preexisting relationships, but built new ones. When confronting pollution and the degradation of our environment, it is important to work with others and to build relationships around helping protect our Earth. These collaborations will provide NAMEPA with opportunities to do more cleanups in the future and continue to engage others to help Save Our Seas.