Water connects

How the world’s oceans affect the fate of Denmark, Somalia, the Philippines and a plastic island [Guideline]

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Denmark, North Sea


A seagullbirds typically living on the coast (Möwe) is circling above you. You wrap yourself in a soft towel and look out at the sea. On the horizon, you spot oil rigsequipment to create holes in the earth to get to the oil (Bohrplattformen) which pump fossil fueloil made from decomposing (= zersetzten) plants and animals reserves from the bottom of North Sea to the surface. Big container ships are slowly moving past the towers. What are they loaded with? You don’t really want to know…

Look around

The beach is packed with tourists who toss their rubbish wherever they go, leaving trails of litter behind them. The fish in the sea are mostly gone. Same goes for the old fishermen. Despite the lack of fish, you can smell fish from the snack bar nearby and you notice your stomach starts rumbling.

Stand up

A plastic bag flies past you. Someone must have dropped it. The wind is carrying it straight towards the sea.

Ignore it – it’s not your task to pick up other’s people’s trash
Pick up the bag and buy a fish sandwich at the snack bar
In the Philippines, Manila Bay

5 years later

You walk along the beach with slow steps. It is littered with plastic bags, cigarette buttsthe end of the cigarette that is left when a person finishes smoking, dentedhollows/ dints in the surface of the can (eingedellt) Coca-Cola cans, old fishing nets.

In front of a particularly large pile of plastic, a group of white youths have stopped and are discussing loudly.


These kids are doing voluntary service abroad and think they are helping the residents here. They probably thought of pristineperfect/ flawless sandy beaches and crystal clear water when they chose the Philippines. Sometimes you wonder if they know that much of the waste was produced in their home country and disposed ofthrown away here.


You have other worries than the plastic waste in the sea.

In the last hurricane your parents’ house was destroyed, the remains are now floating somewhere on the water.

You came all the way here to help them… but you still haven’t found a job.

Bend Over

To fight the plastic floodhuge amount of plastic, a programme has been started: one bag of rubbish can be exchanged for one bag of rice.

Your family desperatelyseriously/ hopelessly (verzweifelt) needs rice. You feel the stares of strangers on you and feel humiliatedembarrassed/ ashamed.

Start picking up the trash
Turn around and walk away – you are not a trash collector after all
Philippines, Manila Bay

At the same time

You have never forgotten the plastic bag you watched being swallowedtaken in by the water at your favourite beach. You often wondered what happened to the bag. Did it end up in the stomach of a turtle? At the bottom of the deep sea? In the eternal ice of the Arctic? Or is it now lying here on this beach?

Look around

You feel a little ashamed as you watch a woman start stuffing loads of plastic waste into a bag without gloves.

You have already been doing your voluntary service in the Philippines for three months. You haven’t been able to help the people much yet, but you have learned a lot yourself.


You are shocked by the use of plastic. At the food stallssnack bars/ restaurants that only sell takeaway food everything is packed twice, for every drink you get a new disposableone-use/ throwaway cup, for every purchasethings you bought (Einkauf) a new plastic bag. Sooner or later, the stuff ends up in the sea. In faraway Europe, the problem is just as serious, only less visible. Because Europeans are shipping plastic waste here despitetrotz ever stricter regulationsrules.

Turn your head

The coastal wind blows plastic waste from open dumpsplace where the trash is collected out to the sea…

Dedicate your life to eliminating the plastic problem
Give up plastic as soon as you get back to Denmark
Denmark, Copenhagen

30 years later

You look through the microscope at the Petri dishflat, round glass plate used to grow cells. The reddish shimmering bacteria have multiplied rapidly. A feeling of elationhappiness rises in you. For thirty years you have searched every day for a solution to the plastic problem. Plastic can now be found on the most remotedistant/ faraway islands and inside the animals living in the deep sea.

Feed bacteria with plastic

You first studied chemistry and have since spent every day in the lab researching bacteria that can s plastic. Finally, you see success.


For many species in the sea, your invention comes too late. But soon the beaches will be free of plastic, microplasticsplastic parts that are smaller than 5mm will be removed from sewagewaste water and the huge plastic whirlpools in the world’s oceans will have disappeared. The tourists will come back to the North Sea, the snack bars will open again, and you will be able to eat fish sandwiches and swim in clean seawater, just like in your childhood.

Finish story
Denmark, North Sea

20 years later

You take a look at the sea. On the horizon you rarely see the big fishing boats of the past. The North Sea has been fished out and the African countries refuse to give the Europeans licencesofficial permission for their fishing groundsfishing area with a lot of fish. Instead, a few new drilling rigsequipment used to create holes in the earth to get to the oil (Bohrtürme) have been erectedbuilt, pumping oil out of the seabedfloor of the sea at even greater speed.

Look around

Everything seems the same as always, yet very different. It is quiet. You are no longer surrounded by laughing tourists, but by plastic rubbish: cigarette butts, plastic cups, crumpledcrushed cans. A lone seagull tugs at a sandwich in a ripped plastic wrapperpackaging. Horribly, you feel reminded of your volunteer service in the Philippines.

Think of the Philippines

There, the plastic problem was solved through the efforts of authorities and residents. The rich countries had to take back their plastic waste. You have heard from your friends there that plastic packaging is now completely banned. People use plant-based packaging that completely decomposesbecomes rotten and falls apart after use.

Pick up plastic cups

We still consume far too much plastic here. Every day you find it harder to do without plastic. You can’t even eat fish sandwiches anymore, because they are now also packed in plastic. For reasons of shelf lifelenght of time until a product cannot be consumed anymore.

Finish story
Somewhere in the North Pacific

30 years later

The island lies in the North Pacific. It is several kilometres long and consists of floatingmove on the surface of the sea rubbish. When your house was destroyed by continuous flooding, you were able to save yourself by taking a lifeboat from Denmark to the island…

Someone calls your name.

Look up

“Emma!” says Richelle excitedly, coming towards you.

It is thanks to her that the Filipinos, who have lived on the island for a long time, have taken you inhave welcomed you in their community.

You have never forgotten Richelle since your volunteer service back then. Now you both have to spend your last days on a daily growing structure made of plastic in small tents….

Hug Richelle

“It was decided to send an expedition to check the microplasticplastic parts that are smaller than 5mm content in the water,” Richelle tells us. Since the islanders live off fishing and fish have become rare due to the pollutedcontaminated/ dirty water, the community needs an underwater farmplace to grow food under water. “They’re still looking for someone to run it,” Richelle continues.


You heard that yesterday a ship was suddenly pulled into the depths by a whirlswirl (Strudel) in the immediate vicinitycloseness of the island. That’s why no one wants to lead the expedition.

You volunteer anyway
Too risky. You won’t risk your life for a few water samples.
Somewhere in the North Pacific

2 months later

Your courage has paid off. The expedition was successful, and your new underwater farm is flourishinggrowing/ thriving/ blooming: The various species of musselsclams (Muscheln), algae and fish are multiplying at great speed. You work many hours every day to keep the farm going and have earned the respect of the islanders.

Think about the future

The farm yieldsearns/ produces enough to keep you going, even though you consume large amounts of microplastics contained in the sea life every day. Slowly, you regain hope. If you keep trying, you may soon have the money together to build a new life in Antarctica.

Finish story
Somewhere in the North Pacific

2 months later

You put on your diving suit and look into the impenetrableimpossible to get through (undurchdringlich) water. Behind you are the ricketyunsafe/ unstable/ shaky structures built on the plastic island. Although samplessomething taken for a scientific analysis have shown a high concentration of microplastics in the water, the underwater farm was built because the supply of canned food was running low.

Take a deep breath and let yourself fall

Ice-cold water hits you, for a moment your heartbeat stops. Working underwater makes you panic, but you have to join the community if you don’t want to starvedie because there is not enough food.

Dive deep

The small fish around you watch you with innocent eyes. Nervously, you check the growth of the mussels and harvestcollect/ gather some algae.

Something is bubbling under your feet.

Look down

The fish start moving. Something black shoots out from the depths of the sea.

You kick your legs, pushing upwards to get back to the surface.

In the next moment, an ice-cold, slippery noosesling wraps itself around your neck and pulls you unstoppably into the dark realmdomain (Reich) of the deep sea.

Finish story
Deep sea


The last strip of the Danish coast has long since disappeared. Soon you will reach the fish-rich coasts of Africa. You wonder if there will be clashes with the local fishermen again. In any case, you can’t be blamed, your fleetmany ship sailing together has dulyrightly, appropriately bought fishing licencesofficial permission from the EU.

Look at the sea

You would rather have stayed in your home waters. In the past, you almost emptied the fish stocksfish population. Now the politicians have taken action and you have had to look for alternative waters.

Think of the tourists

People love to eat fish sandwiches when they are at the North Sea. They don’t realise that with every snack they eat, they are eating away the lunch of a small fisherman in Africa or Southeast Asia.

Bitter laugh

This is not the only dark secret of industrial fishing. As captain of the fishing fleet, you don’t show it in front of the crew, but your heart bleeds every time you see masses of stingraysflat, diamond-shaped fish with a thin tail that can sting and turtles, sometimes also seabirds or dolphins, thrown back into the sea half-dead.

Control course

No one wants to eat fried turtles or dolphin breast. You stare at the water in frustration. You want to put an end to it all. But you know enough people who are just waiting to take your place and don’t share your scrupleshesitation/ reservations because of moral concerns.

Quit your job
Hold out for 3 more years until retirement
Denmark, Torring

2 years later

The salmonpopular fish with orange-pink flesh (Lachs) look greedilywith intense desire/ in a way that shows that you really want something you do not need (gierig) at you with dulldim/ bland/ flat eyes. You know this look very well. Bored, you press a button and the daily load of shredded fish is poured into the huge aquarium. The fish pounceleap/ dart/ dive on the food, in a few minutes the water is clear again and the fish start staring at you again.


Your job on the fishing boat was more brutal, but significantly more exciting. Sometimes you regretare sorry that you loudly denouncedpublicly criticize the abusesmalpractices/ violations in the fishing industry. You increasingly doubt whether you really did more harm in your old job than you are doing here.

Think it over

You produce organic fish, but for 1 kilo of salmon you have to buy 4 kilos of small fish that were probably caught beforehand on the very cutterKutter you left behind. You also pump a lot of medicines and fertiliserspower food to make plants grow faster (Düngemittel) into the water. You find it unbelievable that the farm still gets an organic seallogo used to confirm the quality of products (Siegel).

Think of your friend

Oskar told you about “aquaponics”. This technique combines fish farming with vegetable growing without using soilearth on which plants grow and apparently produces hardly any waste. You would love to try it out, but that would also mean not to do anything about the laxlenient/ loose standards for sustainability labels in the industry.

Try aquaponics
Develop a good sustainability label
Denmark, North Sea

3 years later

The screechscreaming sound seagulls make of seagulls wakes you from your nap. You stretch and search the sea for ships but today everything remains empty. Since a famous captain of a large fishing cutter denounced the abuses in the fishing industry, only a few shipping companies still darerisk to sail the seas despite worldwide criticism.

Stretch your legs

You pick up a few plastic bags lying around. It is spring – low seasonopposite of high season; time in which not a lot of visitors are present– and there are only a few tourists on the beach, but there is still rubbish lying around that can be devouredgulped down/ taken by the sea at any time.

Go to the snack bar

“We now offer fish from aquaponics farming,” the snack bar owner proudly announces. Aquaponics is super popular and has spread throughout Denmark as a successful business model. The new fish sandwich is a little more expensive, but with this fish you are not harming the environment or other people.

Buy fish roll

At that moment, the seagull swoopsdives/ flys down from the sky, snatchesgrabs the roll from your hand and takes off with the fish in its beakmout of a bird. It lets out a triumphant screech.

Finish story
Denmark, North Sea

3 years later

The screechscreaming sound seagulls make of the seagulls wakes you from your nap. You stretch and search the sea for ships. But today everything remains empty. Since a famous captain of a large fishing cutter denounced the abuses in the fishing industry, only a few shipping companies still darerisk to sail the seas despite the worldwide criticism.

Stretch your legs

You pick up a few plastic bags lying around. It is spring – low seasonopposite of high season; time in which not a lot of visitors are present – and there are only a few tourists on the beach, but there is still rubbish lying around that can be devouredgulped down/ taken by the sea at any time.

Go to the snack bar

For a few weeks now, the snack bar has only been offering fish that has a special sustainability seal. This seal is the legacysomething a person leaves behind after he or she dies of the captain. Since he disappeared under mysterious circumstances during negotiationstalks with the fishing industry, he has become Denmark’s new national hero.

Buy a fish roll

The fish roll costs more than twice as much as before, but at last you are sure that you are not harming the environment or other people with this fish.

Just then, the seagull swoopsdives/ flys down from the sky, snatchesgrabs the roll from your hand and takes off with the fish in its beakmout of a bird. It lets out a triumphant screech.

Finish story
Somalia, Ceel Huur

2 years later

Disappointed, you pull the small empty boat onto the beach. Since the big fish trawlersboats with a large fishing net from the north have been cruising around off the coast of Somalia, there are hardly any fish left. Yet the people here have lived from fishing since time immemorialancient/ very old. Having no fish means having nothing to eat.

Scan the horizon

The owners of the fishing boats don’t care. Some wave papers in your face to prove that they are allowed to fish here. Others don’t bother at all, but leave without a word after they’ve reeled incollected their catch.

Close eyes

You don’t stand a chance against them.

Some of your friends have already been rammed and drowned….

You hear the waves crashing against the rocks. Somehow you have to find a way to provide for your family.

Leave Somalia. There is no future for you here.
Start working on a pirate ship. This will bring enough money to survive.
Denmark, Copenhagen

20 years later

When you finally have the verdictcourt decision/ judgement in your hands, you suddenly feel incredibly tired. It was extremely difficult to bring the illegal deep-sea trawlers that robbed Somali fishermen of their food to justice. Some are sailing under false flags, in the case of others, the states have refused to take responsibility for the ships or have denied everything.

Kiss your wife

Finally, justice has been served. The operators of the illegal fishing boats will be in prison for a long time and will have to pay compensationmoney or other benefits for your suffering. But for the fishermen of Somalia, the verdict comes too late.

Think of your homeland

Years of practices by giant fishing boats, climate change, rising sea levels that have made entire coastlines uninhabitableunlivable, plus all the plastic off Somalia’s shores – it was all too much. Now there is not a single fisherman left on Africa’s east coast.

Shake your head

There’s a famineextreme food shortage in your old home, while people in your new home of Denmark are still eating fish sandwiches.

Finish story
Somalia, Ceel Huur

25 years later

You sit alone in your wooden boat and let yourself drift with the waves. The further away from the coast, the better. You are not afraid of the pirates, after all, you were one yourself until a few weeks ago. Now there are no more pirate ships off the coast of Somalia.

Stare into the water

No pirate ships because no fishing boats. No fishing boats because no fish. Something brushes the bowthe front of the boat of the boat. An animal?

Take a closer look

It’s just a dead piece of plastic. You bury your face in your hands in despairhopelessness.
You haven’t eaten for days. You don’t dare go home because you can’t face your children empty-handed. You feel old and tired. Hopeless.

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