World Oceans Day is held every year to raise awareness of the vital importance of our oceans and to honour the marine creatures maintaining the balance of life on Earth. It is a global celebration, to bring people and organisations together in order to help protect and conserve the oceans. As the human population grows, and advanced technologies grow faster to meet our consumption demands, it in turn gives rise to the various by-products and effluents increasing pollution levels in our oceans. While these are indeed daunting problems, there are some simple ways in which you can help protect the oceans.
- Clean up at the Beach!
Over the past few years, the world has woken up to horrifying news about marine life being affected by ocean waste, either due to consumption or entanglement. On World Oceans Day, visit your favourite beach, river, or lake with a few friends or family members along with ample bags for trash. Garbage that has washed ashore accounts for a small percentage of ocean waste, but it’s a start, and it also helps us understand what kind of waste accumulates over time. There have been noticeable changes in ecosystems at beaches where regular clean-up drives have resulted in the return of marine life that once thrived there.
- Reduce Plastic Consumption
Every year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the ocean from coastal regions, wreaking havoc on wildlife and ecosystems. That’s about equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic waste piled up on every foot of coastline on the planet. Marine creatures can get tangled up in this trash or ingest it— either by mistaking it as prey or because the plastic has been broken down into tiny particles by the sea water. The best thing we can do to protect our waterways is to try and keep as much plastic as possible out of wastewater streams. An easy way to start is by implementing simple solutions like saying no to plastic straws, avoid products that use microbeads, recycle and reuse bags or swap out any plastic products you own with a sustainable one. If it's plastic, say no!
- Support Conservation Efforts
It can be frustrating to hear amusement parks and aquariums claim that they are working for the cause of ocean conservation, which is not true in many instances. You can become an Ocean Guardian by supporting ocean marine conservation organizations like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Reefwatch Marine Conservation and Coral Reef Alliance. Consider supporting these organisations financially or by volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy. Visit their website and see how you can look for other ways to help save the oceans. There are many excellent organizations out there to support those who focus on ocean conservation. This World Oceans Day, let’s raise awareness about the beauty, biodiversity, and the essential ecosystems that the oceans support.
- Avoid Products That Harm Marine Life
Every day, we are faced with choices about the purchases we make and those purchases can have a profound impact on marine life. This should go without saying, but people still buy items that impact endangered species. Especially at local markets in coastal regions, be sure to avoid jewellery made from coral, shark’s teeth or turtle shells on any products that exploit the local marine population.
- Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices
Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. In as little as 40 years, seafood populations could be totally wiped out. When shopping or dining out, reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is often sustainably farmed like barramundi, sardines, farmed oysters or Alaskan salmon. Our connection with the ocean is more than the food it produces for us, it is part of our maritime heritage.
Choose what works best for you, or do them all; either way, both you and the sea will benefit.