Guestblog by Michael Stachowitsch, PhD., Author of “The Beachcomber’s Guide to Marine Debris

What can we know, what must we do, what can we hope for? These three philosophical questions are directly relevant to the status of the oceans. To the first question: we know enough. Science (and common sense) tells us that the oceans are in trouble. Regardless of the ecosystem or animal group – whether it be coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass meadows, sea turtles, whales, sharks or tuna – we don’t seem to be doing much right. From boom to bust in less than a century. To the second question: we know we must do something and, again, science and common sense tell us what actions need to be taken. And it’s up to you and me. Among the many forms of marine pollution, this is particularly true for marine debris. It has always been dedicated individuals who have triggered real change. And since most forms of pollution end up impacting the ocean, we from landlocked countries are actually in a unique, objective position: research and conservation efforts should never halt at national borders. To the third and final question: there is hope because we have successfully answered the first two questions. Joining forces in marine conservation organizations helps to additionally compound and channel all that hope and energy. This will ensure that functioning marine ecosystems can deliver the ecosystem services we need. Marine conservation is self-protection. Let’s get going!