It was an honour and privilege to be an invited artist for the exhibition “Matters of the Ocean” as part of the UN Environment and NOAA 6th International Marine Debris Conference presented by the Johnson Ohana Foundation.
Every year, 1.4 billion pounds of trash and other pollutants ends up in our oceans. According to the NOAA:
Natural processes and human activities along the coastlines and far inland affect the health of our ocean. One of the biggest sources is called nonpoint source pollution, which occurs as a result of runoff. Nonpoint source pollution includes many small sources, like septic tanks, cars, trucks, and boats, plus larger sources, such as farms, livestock ranches, and timber harvest areas.
Trash and pollution is an undeniable source of concern for global communities. In developing nations, it stares people directly in the face as many of these places struggle with waste management systems, and the natural environment becomes the default waste outlet. Developed nations with functional waste management systems are also facing a trash crisis, because as we are seeing, we are all an interconnected species on this planet. Ghost nets from fishing vessels in Asia can wash up on Australian land, devastating local animals. Likewise, a plastic bottle thrown into the sea by a person in Australia can just as easily end up on the shores of Asia.
Those nations in positions to help beyond their own borders, I am convinced, must do so. As an Australian, as an artist and as a surfer, I enjoy the privilege of exploration and discovery of lands beyond my own. My photography captures many worlds. The beauty of the ocean as well as the chaos. I see an important role for artists in conveying a larger message that covers both the positives and negatives in the world around us. Total negativity can lead to despair and apathy. Total positivity can lead to complacency and inaction. I believe understanding the interconnectedness of our world will play a vital role in addressing and attempting to solve many of the crisis facing our planet, with trash being only the tip of the iceberg.