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The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. How we manage this vital resource is essential for humanity as a whole, and to counter balance the effects of climate change.

The SDGs aim to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans. Source

It's hard to imagine, but about 97 percent of the Earth's water can be found in our oceans. Of the tiny percentage that's not in the ocean, about two percent is frozen up in glaciers and ice caps. Less than one percent of all the water on Earth is fresh. A tiny fraction of water exists as water vapor in our atmosphere.

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Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, today we are seeing 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks overexploited, reaching below the level at which they can produce sustainable yields.

Oceans also absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, and we are seeing a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Marine pollution, an overwhelming majority of which comes from land-based sources, is reaching alarming levels, with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter to be found on every square kilometre of ocean.

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Human activity has modified the natural environment and this has led to many environmental problems or issues.

One of the most significant of these issues is water pollution.

Management of healthy catchments while maintaining the productivity and sustainability of the natural environment is a key challenge for the future and requires a whole of catchment approach.

It is clear that what happens upstream in our water catchments affects what happens to our oceans.

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Mining, manufacturing, and other industries use about 20% of all water consumed in Australia. They use water in cities and in some fully or over-allocated rural systems, placing them under the same pressures as other users to use water more efficiently and in a way that does not impact negatively on the health of the wider catchment and our oceans.

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Runoff from urban and suburban areas is a major origin of water pollution. Much of the urban environment is paved with asphalt or concrete, or covered with buildings. These surfaces are usually impervious, meaning that water runs off of them without being absorbed into the soil. These hard, impervious surfaces make it easier for stormwater to pick up, absorb, and carry pollutants.

Other environments in urban and suburban areas also add to water pollution. At construction sites, soil that has been disturbed or piled up without being contained can easily erode. Discarded construction materials (plastics, wood, oils, trash) can also be carried away from these sites by runoff waters.

In suburban areas, the chemicals used in lawn care, and even pet wastes, often end up in runoff and contribute to nonpoint source pollution. In many towns and cities, the water flowing into storm drains is not treated before emptying into nearby waterbodies.

Surfrider Foundation South Coast Branch in collaboration with the local Council is stencilling drains across Wollongong to raise awareness about land based pollution ending up in our oceans. The campaign is targeting all land based waste with a focus on plastic pollution and the dumping of cigarette butts. Local volunteers will continue to work with the local government to expand the program and hold a series of community education outreach events.