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"Let’s Put the Ocean First", UN Secretary-General said in a message for World Ocean Day, 8 June 2023, urging all to keep pushing for recovery, conservation, sustainable use of resources. 'Humanity counts on the ocean. But can the ocean count on us?"  Following on from recent global agreements to protect 30 % of the ocean - including the High Seas - and 30% of the land for stopping mass species extinctions, the UN motto for World Ocean Day 2023 was "Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing".

Activities started with a Clean-Up drive in Hilden, Germany, on Saturday, 3 June along a creek discharging into the river Rhine and from there into the North Sea. The Rhine had been used for years as a sewer for the agro-chemical and other industries to the point it was forbidden to swim, let alone go fishing for the last remaining fauna.

Thanks to European legislation, namely the Water Framework Directive and the Bathing Water Directive waste water treatment plants were established in urban agglomerations on the river and its tributaries in the 1980s, among other measures.

Since a few years, the results of the clean-up benefit the countless people allowed to swim in the river again and enjoying recreation alongside and on the river again. Since the beginning of the Millennium some renaturation efforts and establishment of fish ladders to overcome barriers such as power plants have enabled the timid return of some diadromous species, such as eel.  Despite costly recovery measures to recreate habitat for self-sustaining populations of salmon, the recovery of what was once the richest salmon river in Europe before WWII is not yet over the finishing line.

All the more reason to contribute to prevention rather than expensive cures. So, upon a call in the local newspaper and mouth to mouth invitation by Mundus maris, a few courageous friends of the ocean gathered to pick up particularly plastic garbage along the local creek, Hoxbach. The municipal waste management office provided collection bags and practical wodden pincers. The service also included collecting the garbage for proper disposal or incineration.

The 'harvest of the day' were 8 kg of mostly plastic garbage. That may not sound like much, but the single most abundant item were cigarette buts again. They don't weigh much, but are very toxic to water-living organism - and stink horrendously when in numbers in one place. All participants were happy to have eliminated that many. Home-made cake and a good chat afterwards came as well-appreciated rewards.