New exploration into the complex relationship between oceans and human health launches on World Ocean Day

Posted on 7th June 2023

World Ocean Day has been chosen for the launch of Oceans and Human Health: Opportunities and Impacts – a collaboration of more than 100 authors exploring the interconnected and complex relationship between the health of both the oceans and humans. 

Professor Lora Fleming and Emeritus Professor Michael Depledge from the University of Exeter are among those who have come together to create this new work at a time when the pressing issues of biodiversity and human health are at the forefront of the global agenda. 

International leaders have recently made a commitment to conserve 30 per cent of our lands, waters, and oceans by 2030 (30×30), with the UN declaring this as the Ocean Decade. This new book provides vital scientific evidence to underpin activities and decision making in education, policy and communities. 

Professor Lora Fleming said: “As global policy makers are rallied to act on World Ocean Day, there has never been a more relevant or urgent time for this work. For thousands of years, the coasts, seas and oceans have supported our health and well-being and now it is time to give back and truly care for them. It has been a privilege to work with such an esteemed, committed, and interdisciplinary team of experts from around the world on this book. We all care deeply about the future of ocean stewardship and through better understanding of the issues, global populations can unite to nurture and promote our life-enhancing relationship with the oceans.” 

The work examines the many invaluable ecosystem services offered by oceans, as well as the global pollution and harm created by humans, and explores the associated risks and benefits to human health. It features international and interdisciplinary perspectives on the resources available to address both these benefits and risks, including enhanced research, policy, and community engagement. 

Authoring the Preface to the book, Emeritus Professor Michael Depledge comments on the value of the collaborative work, 

“Through their efforts the authors have been able to bring together and update what we now know about the topic and identify priorities for future research. This is a textbook aimed at engaging and educating undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers, and coastal communities, and thereby enlists new supporters to both protect and restore marine ecosystems. The hope is that they will go on to ensure that we find ways to live that do not threaten sea life or human health in the future. 

The book concludes by examining the future of ocean stewardship and how individuals, communities and global populations can unite to nurture and promote our life-enhancing relationship with oceans. 

 The book is being launched with additional resources, including a film highlighting the issues and the need for international collaboration and a podcast discussing the connections between the ocean and human health, spanning from wellbeing and mental health, to medicinal resources, plastics, food and nutrition, and the health risks of polluted oceans.

Key Features of the book:

  • Addresses benefits, opportunities, risks, and impacts resulting from the relationship between oceans and humans, informed by more than 100 international authors. 
  • Identifies and links necessary tools to relevant disciplines for action, and provides illustrative international case studies. 
  • Covers scientific, socioeconomic, political, and ethical analyses behind the latest ocean and human health research 
  • Provides study questions and horizon scans at the end of each chapter to encourage individual thought and action, offering a resource for course instructors, students, and communities.

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