Scientists involved in the Seas Oceans and Public Health In Europe (SOPHIE) Project have proposed the first steps towards a united global plan to save our oceans, for the sake of human health. In a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health the scientists call for the current UN United Nations Ocean Decade to act as a meaningful catalyst for global change. RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment is involved in this European interdisciplinary collaboration.
Healthy oceans, healthy people
The researchers point to our reliance on our global ocean as a source of food and economic income internationally, as well as a precious resource that offers benefits our mental and physical health. However, the consequences of the impact of human activity are severe. Extreme weather events induced by climate and other environmental change result in coastal flooding, exposure to harmful algal blooms, and chemical and microbial pollution. At the same time, the coasts, seas and ocean provide us with food, trade, culture, renewable energy, and many other benefits. In fact, there is now strong evidence that access to healthy coasts can improve and preserve our physical health and mental wellbeing.
Global action plan
The scientists call on planners, policy-makers and organisations to understand and share research into the links between ocean and human health, and to integrate this knowledge into policy.
They suggest a list of possible first steps, such as include citizens who can take part in ocean-based citizen science or beach cleans and encourage school projects on sustainability. Healthcare professionals could consider “blue prescriptions”, integrated with individual and community promotion activities. For more examples read the paper ‘The Ocean Decade— Opportunities for Oceans and Human Health Programs to Contribute to Public Health’.