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What’s happening to our ocean?

It’s easy to take the globe’s gigantic oceans for granted, but this source of food, leisure and enjoyment is increasingly under strain. This month we discover efforts to tackle ocean plastic waste, renewed efforts to halt the consumption of shark fin and a brave mission to row from Singapore to New Zealand….

Travelling 12,000 km from Singapore to New Zealand in a rowing boat
Grant Rawlinson in his 6.8 metre ocean rowing boat bound for NZ

Shark Alert

Most hotel chains have got on board the global movement to ban the sale of shark fin. Over 18,000 hotels – including the Hilton, Hyatt and Westin here in Singapore – have removed it from their menus. Five years on from the start of the campaign, the WWF is calling on the rest of Singapore’s local food and beverage industry to cease using shark products. There is already widespread awareness about the need for shark protection as evidenced by the large proportion of people (82 percent) locally who haven’t consumed shark fin for at least a year. Sharks play a critical role in marine ecosystems, yet nearly 25 percent of sharks and rays now face extinction, with overfishing for fins and meat being the main causes.

Meanwhile, global travelling art exhibition On Sharks and Humanity launches on 10 March. The organisers of the exhibition, Parkview Arts Action, have toured Monaco, Russia and China with the aim of challenging prevailing prejudices, and educating audiences on the importance of sharks in the ecosystem, shark protection and ocean conservation. Parkview Museum, 600 North Bridge Road, Courtyard and Level 3. Until 26 June. Free admission.

A work by artist Wang Luyan at the "On Sharks and Humanity" exhibition
“Sharks” by Wang Luyan, is constructed in lacquer, steel and stainless steel

Re-thinking Plastic

In January, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, Unilever, made a giant step in tackling the massive plastic waste issue, announcing that all of its plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The sheer scale of plastic in the environment is mind-boggling. One study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. They found just 14 percent of the plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, while 40 percent ends up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems. Along with their commitment, Unilever will ensure there are established, proven examples of it being commercially viable for plastics re-processors to recycle the material.

Remarkable Ocean Rowers 

We’ve followed the various adventures and expeditions of Grant “Axe” Rawlinson for some time, including his eventful Everest campaigns. But his current project takes the cake for scope and audacity. He’s travelling from Singapore to his home country of New Zealand, in a rowboat, with his companion Charlie Smith. The two Singapore-based expats are in a 6.8-metre, custom-built ocean rowing boat, Simpson’s Donkey, named after the legend of an ANZAC soldier in World War I. They’ve had their ups and downs on the trip so far, from wonderful welcomes by the local inhabitants of isolated tropical islands, to battling ferocious storms in the Java Sea. To follow Rowing From Home to Home, including a live map of Grant and Charlie’s current location, visit axeoneverest.com or facebook.com/GrantAxeRawlinson.

Grant Rawlinson in his 6.8 metre ocean rowing boat bound for NZ
Travelling 12,000 km from Singapore to New Zealand in a rowing boat, via Indonesia and Australia!

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