World Oceans Day: Theme, history, significance and all you need to know

With 90 percent of big fish populations depleted and 50 percent coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished.

Monika Roy

Monika Roy

The Daily Star


June 9, 2023

DHAKA – Today is World Oceans Day.

The ocean covers over 70 percent of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth.

According to the UN, the ocean produces at least 50 percent of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Not to mention, the ocean is key to our economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.

Even though all its benefits, the ocean is now in need of support.

With 90 percent of big fish populations depleted, and 50 percent of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished. We need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.

World Oceans Day gives the opportunity to individuals, communities, and organisations to come together so that they can take action and promote ocean conservation. In this article we will focus on the challenges our oceans are facing, and the steps we can take to protect them.


This year’s theme is “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”.

Marking the event, Unesco said in its website: “The ocean covers the majority of the earth, but only a small portion of its waters has been explored. Despite humanity’s utter reliance on it, and compared to the breadth and depth of what it gives us, the ocean receives only a fragment of our attention and resources in return. But tides are changing.”

It added, “In celebration of the 2023 event, the United Nations are joining forces with decision makers, scientists, private sector executives, civil society representatives, indigenous communities, celebrities and youth activists to underscore how earth is more than it may seem and finally put the ocean first.”


Canada’s International Centre for Ocean Development and the Ocean Institute of Canada placed a proposal on the idea of celebrating the special day at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro of Brazil in 1992. After 16 years, the UN General Assembly passed the resolution in 2008 to designate June 8 as World Oceans Day.

Since then, the day was established with the intent of celebrating people’s connection to the sea. The event also raises awareness among the people about the various dangers the oceans face.


Plastic pollution is one of the main issues that our seas have been experiencing at present. Millions of tonnes of plastic waste each year make its way into the oceans, endangering marine life.

When plastic waste breaks down into microplastics, it can be consumed by species at all levels of the food chain, including humans. The objective of the World Ocean Day is to increase awareness about the plastic pollution.

Also, the day can motivate people and groups to recycle more, cut back on plastic waste, and support efforts to clean up marine garbage.


UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for greater action to protect oceans in his message to mark World Oceans Day on Thursday.

“The ocean is the foundation of life. It supplies the air we breathe and food we eat. It regulates our climate and weather. The ocean is our planet’s greatest reservoir of biodiversity,” he said.

“We should be the ocean’s best friend. But right now, humanity is its worst enemy,” he said, pointing to the evidence.

The UN chief said human-induced climate change is heating the planet, disrupting weather patterns and ocean currents, and altering marine ecosystems and the species living there.

“But this year’s World Oceans Day reminds us that the tides are changing,” he said.

“Realising the great promise of these initiatives requires collective commitment,” Guterres said.

“This World Oceans Day let’s keep pushing for action. Today and every day, let’s put the ocean first,” he said.

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