World Oceans Day, held every June, is the United Nations-recognized day of ocean celebration and action. A healthy ocean is crucial for our survival. On a primal level, we depend on our oceans to generate the oxygen we breathe, to feed us, regulate our climate, and so much more. From an economic standpoint, oceans provide jobs for people all over the world, attract tourism and act as trade routes used to transport goods from country to country. World Oceans Day provides us the opportunity to honor, help protect, conserve and give back to these oceans that give so much to us. The 2016 World Oceans Day theme is “healthy ocean, healthy planet”.
“On World Oceans Day, think of the global ocean that connects all the world’s ecosystems, and take action in the local piece of the ocean that touches you in your ecosystem. Cape Breton is an island with an ocean surrounding it and an ocean within it. You have plenty of choices about where to take your stand for future ocean health,” says Bruce Hatcher, Director of the Bras D’or Institute at Cape Breton University.
The goal of World Oceans Day is to change individuals’ perspectives on what the ocean means to them, what it offers and how we can preserve it for future generations, as well as to educate the world on life below the water, and the ways in which our actions affect this life. It aims to give individuals the knowledge to change their ways and protect our oceans by making small, simple modifications to daily routines and habits. Finally, World Oceans Day celebrates our world’s oceans. Whether you live on the coast or inland, it is important to celebrate all that the ocean provides us.
This year, through the sponsorship of CBU, Àros na Mara World Oceans Day celebrations will be held June 5 at the Barra Strait in the beautiful lakeside village of Iona. This will be a four day event acknowledging and celebrating one of the province’s greatest indigenous resources, Canada’s Inland Sea – the Bras d’Or Lake. Cape Bretoners will gather for a day full of family fun with presentations, workshops, live music and interactive learning followed by a lobster dinner, fresh from the Bras D’or Lake. Matt McCandless, executive director of International Institute for Sustainable Development, will deliver this year’s Bras D’Or Talks, an educational element embedded in the event, as he speaks about adapting to change in Canada’s inland sea.
Àros na Mara (Gaelic for House of the Sea), a proposed Centre for Marine Research & Education in Iona, is a collaboration between the communities of the Barra Strait and CBU aimed at enhancing the capacity of the Island to facilitate world-class, multidisciplinary research and teaching in all aspects of marine, estuarine and coastal science, culture and development.
Hatcher says, “This centre would provide a base of operations and focus on observational, experimental and intellectual activity for students and faculty of CBU as well as Provincial, Regional, National and International institutions committed to multidisciplinary research and societal understanding of the proper place of humans in coastal marine ecosystems. It would also contribute very significantly to the sustainable economic development of the communities of the Barra Strait, Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.”
CBU currently offers courses in marine science such as marine ecology and marine environment protection. CBU students are also able to complete an honors degree in Marine Biology. This World Oceans Day event will help raise awareness of the fact that CBU is an institution where students are able to study and conduct marine research that reaches beyond Sydney into the communities of Cape Breton.
For more information, please visit the Àros na Mara Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/489340114571122/