80% of all life on earth lives in our seas and our oceans

About the competition

A great opportunity to showcase the value and importance of our blue planet is coming in November 2015. The Heads of Commonwealth Governments will meet together in Malta to discuss issues of critical global importance, such as the future of the planet’s Blue Economy – that is, the economic activity that is dependent on oceans, seas and coasts. A vast area of our global ocean lies within the jurisdiction of Commonwealth countries. More than half of Commonwealth countries are islands, to whom ocean matters are of vital importance. These global leaders therefore have critical decisions to make such as how best to ensure the future health and viability of the ocean.

Good pictures can tell stories in ways that words sometimes cannot. We hope that ‘Out of the Blue’ will inspire Commonwealth citizens to use photography to engage with the vast blue world around the Commonwealth, to celebrate its beauty, highlight its importance and alert global leaders to its vulnerability. By doing so, people of the Commonwealth can directly encourage global leaders to take positive action and adopt more of the solutions that we know are at hand to protect and use natural resources in a sustainable way.

The competition is open to all Commonwealth citizens (and all photographs must have been taken in a Commonwealth country). The winning photographs will be exhibited in Malta in November 2015 at the event of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. The competition runs from 8th June until 6th September. Please see the Entry page and the Awards page for details of how you can enter and what you might win.

About the blue economy

Humankind relies on healthy marine and coastal environments for many important benefits. These include for food security, protection from storms and the economic contributions that come with tourism.

Marine and aquatic environments across the world face an unprecedented combination of pressures. For example, there is so much plastic in the oceans that if present rates of growth in marine waste continue, it is estimated that by 2025 there will be 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish! In addition, oceans are also suffering from progressive acidification as each year the ocean absorbs 25% of all the carbon dioxide we emit, which gradually makes them more acidic and less hospitable for marine life. This marine life is also threatened by overfishing and illegal fishing. Our activities on land also have direct impacts on the life in our seas . Chemicals used in farming and industrial activities on land can run into local lakes and rivers and eventually build up in coastal waters.

The changes taking place in the oceans and coastal ecosystems are therefore of grave concern. Declining ocean and marine health is not only an environmental challenge but one that has far reaching implications for people and the economy. There is an ever-stronger body of scientific evidence supporting this conclusion and an increasing suite of activities, policies and regulations that can help to improve the situation and ensure that human, plant and animal life can continue to depend on it for years to come. However, it is clear that to achieve positive change it will be important to win hearts as well as minds. We hope that Out of the Blue: The Prince of Wales’s Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards can help to do this.

Enter the Competition