World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. World Oceans Day has been unofficially celebrated every 8 June since its original proposal in 1992 by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. It has been coordinated since 2003 by The Ocean Project, with greater participation each year.

As for many UN official celebrations, World Oceans Day has each year different topics with emphasis on particular important issue. The theme for the UN’s observance of World Oceans Day 2015-2016 is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.” The UN explains why this topic was chosen:

The oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and are the very foundations of life. They generate most of the oxygen we breathe, absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients, regulate climate, and are important economically for countries that rely on tourism, fishing and other marine resources for income, and serve as the backbone of international trade. Unfortunately, human pressures, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, alien species, climate change and ocean acidification are taking a significant toll on the world’s oceans and seas. Peace and security are also critical to the full enjoyment of the benefits that can be derived from the oceans and for their sustainable development.  As has been remarked by the Secretary-General, “There will be no development without security and no security without development”.

Everyone’s health depends on a clean, productive ocean. During our celebration this year, The Ocean Project encourages partners and friends to once again think about what actions each of us can take to safeguard vulnerable ocean communities. Please focus on whatever issues you think are most important for a healthy ocean future.

For the celebration of the World Ocean Day, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations organize  Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition. Photography is a powerful medium of expression that can be used to communicate strong positive messages about a subject. This open and free photo competition seeks to inspire the creation and dissemination of such positive imagery, which conveys the beauty and importance of the ocean and humankind’s relation to it.

Last year the winner Cécile Gaspar, marine biologist from France, pictured a 10-year-old Tahitian girl, watching a rescued baby green sea turtle reaching out to the lagoon. This is a very rare occasion because the number of green sea turtles nesting in French Polynesia has been declining. Let see who wins this year!

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