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'The oceans face many challenges'

Hello Martijn van Praagh, Research and Development manager Environment at ÅF and an expert in micro plastics, recycling and geochemistry. The World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the health of our oceans – what would you say are the biggest challenges that the oceans are facing today?

  -      The oceans face many different challenges – depletion and biodiversity loss, over-fertilization, plastics and other contaminations. But the biggest challenge is the different threats combined with the effects of climate change. The consequences of the over-fertilization, for example, are aggravated because of rising temperatures. Challenges can differ regionally. For example,  over-fertilization states a particular threat to the Baltic Sea.

What actions are taken to cope with the situation?

-      There are many initiatives to improve the situation – both politically and privately, locally and globally. For example, there are initiatives to remove plastics from the oceans and beaches, decrease plastic consumption and
to remove pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants from wastewater. Additionally, seas and shores and their ecosystem services are taken into regard in national and municipal planning. Politically there are initiatives like the UN’s global goals, one of which concerns ‘Life below waters’ and aims to conserve and promote sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources. This leads to initiatives to fight overfishing and to decrease over-fertilization and contamination.

However, climate change – which nowadays should be called for what it is: the climate crisis – requires that all initiatives and efforts undertaken today must be intensified and larger efforts must be made. Very big and slow systems must change to ensure a sustainable marine environment. The threats are coming from many different directions – both directly by overfishing and degradation of nature´s resources. But also by diffuse emissions from farming and industries which end up in the seas.

How is ÅF working to tackle challenges for the oceans?

-       We are working with this in many different ways – through research and development projects, we help cities and industries to map, measure and decrease their emissions to lakes, watercourses and oceans. We also help companies and municipalities with their strategies to decrease their emissions and help them to achieve UN’s global development goals, not least the goal “Life below waters”.