Five actions to save our oceans

26 June 2017
Emily Frost with Cara Delevingne's sculpture, Mother Ocean
PhD student Emily Frost

Fresh from UN talks in New York, a University of Auckland doctoral student has drafted five key actions she says New Zealand must take now to protect our oceans.

Emily Frost, who is completing her PhD in the Faculty of Science studying ocean acidification, was selected to head a New Zealand delegation to the 2017 UN Ocean Conference held earlier this month.

It was the first time the UN Headquarters has hosted a high-level conference on the world’s oceans. Emily was selected to attend by the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute and funded by the University of Auckland.

“It was such an honour to represent New Zealand and add our voice to this poignant event,” Emily says. “The ocean connects us all. It is so important for nations to come together to talk about how to protect it from the many issues that it faces, including climate change, overfishing, pollution, debris, the list goes on.”

After sitting across the table from world leaders in sustainability, Emily has returned to New Zealand with five actions she says we need to take now:

1. Bridge the freshwater-marine connection through adequate legislation.
“In New Zealand, we have no such legislation, and hence, eutrophication from farm run-off is having a significantly negative impact on the health of the ocean via freshwater streams and rivers. We need to have solid legislation in order to reduce the stress such pollution is having on the ocean,” Emily says.

2. Address overfishing in our Exclusive Economic Zone and across the high seas.

3. Address pollution, especially plastic pollution.
“We must look at stopping single-use plastic items as well as prohibit micro-plastics.”

4. Assist our Pacific neighbours to achieve their sustainable development goals.
“We need to build capacity for research and forming legislation, especially in addressing the impacts of climate change and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and negative fishing subsidies.”

5. Include the indigenous voice.
“There is a plethora of traditional knowledge that we need to listen to.”

The first ever UN Ocean Conference was held to support the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Emily says all those who attended shared a deep association with the ocean and were willing to fight as hard they could to protect it. The conference was also an opportunity for Emily, who grew up in Lake Tekapo, to share some of her own research. She is investigating the predicted rise in ocean acidification and its effect on the New Zealand sea urchin (Kina) and abalone (Paua). Her study forms part of the wider CARIM initiative (Coastal acidification - rate, impacts and management) run by NIWA and funded by MBIE.

Media contact:

Danelle Clayton
Communications, Vice-Chancellor's Office
The University of Auckland
Mob: 027 537 2580