Preserve ocean health to preserve human health: World Oceans Day

Aaron Jenkins is Senior Research Fellow in Planetary Health

To mark World Oceans Day today, researchers and conservation groups worldwide have published new insights reinforcing how human health depends on thriving oceans. 

Published in The Lancet, Human Health Depends on Thriving Oceans, describes how crucial the world’s oceans are due to their role in carbon storage, climate regulation, food provision, and even providing medicinal resources.

The paper emphasises that a precautionary approach is needed to maintain the ecosystem integrity of our oceans.

“Our health, wellbeing, and survival are inextricably linked with the health of the world’s oceans,” said report co-author, Dr Aaron Jenkins, from Edith Cowan University (ECU) and The University of Sydney (USYD).

“Oceans not only help control climate-related health risks, from severe weather injuries and food security issues to pollution-induced chronic diseases, but also contribute significantly to our enjoyment, recreation, and overall mental wellbeing.”     

The authors, representing diverse global institutions including ECU, University of Sydney, University of the West Indies, Monash University, the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, and Wildlife Conservation Society, point out human health risks linked to climate and ocean changes disproportionately affect low-income countries and small island states.

Preserving ocean health equates to safeguarding economies, food security, and the wellbeing of these vulnerable communities.

A draft agreement on Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction was finalised by the United Nations in March this year.  Also known as the Treaty of the High Seas, the landmark accord seeks to ensure fair access to, and distribution of, health benefits arising from novel discoveries in international waters.

“It also requires the involvement of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including health professionals, environmentalists, non-governmental organisations, governments, businesses, Indigenous people, and local communities,” Dr Jenkins said.

Aaron Jenkins is Senior Research Fellow in Planetary Health within the School of Science at ECU and a Senior Research Fellow at The University of Sydney. You can read his work in “Human Health Depends on Thriving Oceans” as published in The Lancet here.

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