The world’s seas and oceans are the sources of income to many fishermen and businesses. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the ocean contributes $1.5 trillion annually to the overall economy.
But at the same time, marine destruction is happening to our oceans every single day: plastic waste, water pollution, overfishing, and etc… However, all these problems are left unseen. We are relying on the ocean for its enormous resources; if the ocean dies, we certainly will die.
The East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress is a triennial event participated by delegates from Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) partner countries, non-member countries, and various stakeholders, coming together to come up with an action plan to protect the coastal and marine resources in the East Asian sea regions. This year the event was held in Iloilo City, the Philippines.
The EAS Youth Forum is a key event within the EAS Congress that served as a platform for young passionate leaders in the region to get involved in coastal and ocean sustainability. Youth were able to learn and discuss the problems, share their solutions and action plan to protect coastal and marine resources, exchange ideas, and share their experience with other participants.
Sythong Run and I, Lux Sovann, are honorably among those highly passionate participants. As 16-year-old students, we were two of the first Cambodian students to conduct marine research in our country, and the youngest participants in the event. Along with other youths, we presented our research project on the effect of an artificial reef on a damaged ecosystem in the Kep archipelago.
Being there with other empowered youths from different countries makes me feel hopeful about what to become of the world we live in. Moreover, I really like this conference because it doesn’t end when the conference ends. People still stay in touch after the conference to communicate their work for the ocean among each other.
I participated in many interactive activities with various experts from climate change, plastic waste, and sustainable fishing. Everyone was a little bit exhausted, but with our passion and curiosity we fight through the event with strength and ended with excitement. I gained a lot of valuable knowledge from this event such as about coral restoration, mangrove forest, illegal fishing, plastic waste etc…
Seventy percent of the world’s surface area is covered by the ocean and two thirds of the oxygen we breathe came from that. Because our ocean are so important, it had drive me toward having the responsibility to protect it. We need to take action now and we need to act fast.