3 Effective Ways to Protect Our Oceans This World Oceans Day and Beyond
We have the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Southern and Indian but these oceans aren’t five separate ocean basins. There is just one global ocean and it connects us all.
The wonders of the ocean don’t just stop at comprising about 70% of our planet. An estimated 50-80% of life on Earth calls the ocean their home, three billion people depend on the ocean for food and livelihoods and at the same time, it regulates our climate. This is why the ocean plays a critical role in mitigating the escalating effects of global warming.
“The ocean nourishes us with abundance. She feeds our body and soul. She breathes life into us. She takes care of us.”Aunofo Havea
Unfortunately, roughly 2.7% of the world’s oceans is highly protected. It faces a cocktail of threats from human activities such as plastic pollution, acidification, overfishing – to name a few. These issues are just some of the reasons why the ocean’s health continues to decline. As guardians of the ocean, we all must do what we can to help protect and conserve marine life and their natural habitats. When we all do our part, we help in the healing process of the deep blue and when the ocean thrives, all life on this planet thrives too.
Today (June 8) is World Ocean Day. This day was created to encourage everyone to save and restore our blue planet, to celebrate our ocean and spread awareness of the perils of the sea. Scientists have agreed that 30% of the global ocean must be protected by the year 2030 for a healthy ocean and climate.
Ocean Unite, a non-profit aimed at galvanising a community of ocean conservationists and advocates has launched its “30×30” initiative, a “call to action to safeguard at least 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030 through a network of highly protected marine areas where no destructive or extractive activities like fishing or mining can take place.” It also aims to focus on achieving the following:
- livelihood and food for everybody
- safer home for threatened and endangered marine life
- increased protection for marine and coastal habitats for healthier ecosystems
- healthier ocean to ensure diversity of fish species
- successful climate change mitigation
So, what can we as individuals do to help conserve and protect our oceans? Here are just some ideas:
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Over 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year and eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year. The issue with plastic is that it doesn’t go away. It exists for a very long time, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces (known as microplastics).
Ocean plastics affect about 700 species in total, killing about a million seabirds per year while different marine species get entangled in plastic debris that cause serious injury and death. Many of these sea creatures mistake microplastics as food which inevitably ends up in the food chain.
So, reduce, reuse and recycle! Or better yet, say no to plastics and embrace a zero waste lifestyle. These changes to our lifestyle will create a huge impact in the restoration and protection of all marine life.
Practice sustainable food consumption
If you have seen the mind-blowing Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, you might just be one of the many viewers who have vowed never to eat fish again.
However, while overfishing poses more threat on the planet than deforestation, as mentioned earlier three billion people rely on seafood for everyday protein while roughly 800 million of the world’s population rely on it for their livelihood. So a seafood-free diet might not be totally feasible just yet but you can be mindful of your seafood consumption.
One way of doing that is to trace where your fish or seafood were caught. Do these fishing companies practice a legal and sustainable way of catching seafood? Check the labels and support those companies that observe responsible fishing methods.
Make sure that these companies are guided by three principles: sustainability of stock, ecosystem impacts and effective management and if they’re fully transparent about their supply chain, even better!
Join coastal clean up drives
The majority of the plastics that end up in oceans end up suspended in the water or have settled on the ocean floor. However, a lot of it also gets washed up on the shore. Why not gather a group of people who are willing to collect this trash? If this seems too difficult, there are plenty of coastal clean up drives that are looking for participants. if you are time-poor or don’t live anywhere near the ocean, you can also donate to non-profit environmental groups and ocean-focused organizations that commit to the conservation of marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
These are simple ways that you can do to help restore the ocean’s health. Let us not abuse the ocean’s resilience. Afterall, when we all work to heal the ocean, the ocean heals us too. Happy World Ocean Day!