As part of its educational programme on the issue of marine ecosystem preservation, between December 15 and 19 the GoodPlanet Foundation organisation held the “Ocean Sessions”. The objective was to reveal the depths of the blue planet through 14 free screenings of the latest film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot,“Planet Ocean”, and a lecture on the future of the oceans.

Over the five-day period, nearly 3,000 people saw the film, quite an eye-opener in its depiction of the crisis our oceans are in. Alongside these screenings, marine experts and activists were invited to voice their opinions on issues such as plastic in the oceans, the acidification of the oceans and the defence of small-scale fishing operations. The outcome of these various events was the voicing of a general consensus on the need for joint action involving all stakeholders, from consumers to fishermen: we can all drive the sustainable management of our resources. Among the personalities involved, Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, spoke live from the Southern Ocean. One comment he made which will not be forgotten by the 400-strong audience was that the oceans are essential to our survival: « If the oceans die, we die. ».

Young people in particular learned a great deal from the films and the discussion with the head of the Foundation’s Ocean programme. Primary, middle-school and secondary students all came to understand the problems facing the seas via the sessions especially designed for them. They were either amazed, surprised or shocked by the powerful images in the film, as was shown in comments as varied as « The sharks were cool » ou « to “What really shocked me was the plastic found in the stomachs of dead birds ». The message contained inPlanet Ocean seems to have been understood by its young audience.

As our President, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, likes to say, « It’s too late to be pessimistic » and « Taking action builds happiness », ces quelques mots s’appliquent à nos océans. En effet, chacun à son échelle peut devenir acteur de la sauvegarde des océans. En tant que consommateur, par exemple, il est possible de privilégier des espèces des produits de la mer durables et d’éviter les espèces surexploitées ou en voie d’extinction. These sayings also apply to our oceans. The fact is that each of us, in our own way, can do something to protect the oceans. As consumers, for example, we can choose to purchase sustainable fish and eschew those which are over-fished or threatened with extinction. Consumer guides are available from a number of NGOs: check out the GoodPlanet Foundation “Consume responsibly” leaflets, for example..

These are the conclusions from the Ocean Sessions. A big thank you to everybody who took part.

Relive the highlights through the photos!

Did the Ocean Sessions leave you feeling that you should be doing something? Then do something !

Photos :
Slide show: all the photos in the slide-show are available under licence from CC-BY-NC
Illustration: Encounter between a diver and a southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), Auckland Islands, New Zealand. © Brian Skerry / National Geographic