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Kelowna  

Oceans drowning in junk

The world's oceans are in trouble – big trouble.

They provide 80 per cent of the world's oxygen, food for billions of people and without them life would cease to exist.

But the world's oceans are being overfished, polluted with islands of plastic thousands of square kilometres in size and filled with toxins that are hazardous to man and animal alike.

Monday is World Oceans Day and Debbie White, of World Oceans Day Canada, wants people to be aware of what is going on and what has to be done to save the vital ecosystem.

World Oceans Day Canada began in Kelowna in 2009 when White, who has radio and TV experience, was asked by two local residents if she could help promote World Oceans Day, which was created by the UN as a sister to Earth Day.

She agreed to help out and was soon heading up the drive to save the world's oceans.

White said the UN was originally approached in 1992 to declare World Oceans Day, but only did so 15 years later.

Since then, many countries, cities and people have become involved. White said Kelowna is always the first city to sign a World Oceans Day proclamation.

While the Okanagan may be several hundred kilometres from the ocean, there are many lakes in the area and White points out plastics and pollutants that end up in the area's lakes have an impact on the ocean.

“There is not anyone in the world who does not live on a watershed,” she says, pointing out that everyone is responsible to care for the world's oceans.

WODC is working with teachers to help educate children as early as Kindergarten about the perils facing the world's oceans. Until recently, that education did not begin until Grade 5.

“It's making a huge difference,” she says.

White praised B.C. for “being ahead of most” in trying to reduce the harm.

While there are no World Oceans Day events planned in Kelowna, White said there are plenty of things people can do.

For more information, go to www.worldoceansday.ca.

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