What does sea water mean for you? What memories do you have of swimming in the sea? If you were in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea or the Persian Gulf 15 to 20 years ago, I can guarantee that you will not experience that exact same sight in these places today. Countless testimonies worry about the complete disappearance of some fish species, coral bleaching and desolate coasts. Life has been sucked away, mangroves destroyed and the invisible ecosystem processes which sustain a life system are rapidly, not slowly, disappearing. If you are feeling alarmed, that is not enough, it is time to critically change our ways for good. The ocean is at a tipping point where human actions over the next 10 years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years.
June 8th is World Oceans Day, the UN-designated day for the global community to celebrate and take action for our shared ocean. The theme this year is “Youth: the Next Wave for Change,” and many events will focus on inspiring the younger generations by addressing three critical factors that have been identified as the main threats that are changing our ocean: Overfishing, Climate Change and Rubbish.
In occasion of World Ocean Day, Green prophet will provide our readers with some tools so that you can make a difference.
The world is eating more seafood than ever, and we’re pushing the ocean and its fish to the limit. According to the United Nations, approximately two-thirds of ocean species are overfished, and some types of commercial fishing catch up to seven times more unwanted fish than targeted species. The issue of bycatch is unsustainable and subsidizing industrial fishing in countries such as Russia, Korea and Italy is encouraging overfishing in foreign seas, especially the less regulated ones.
As a consumer you have the power to change these unsustainable practices and this is how:
Stop eating fish!
Make ocean-friendly choices : Eat locally caught species and buy directly from fishermen when possible. For those in the US, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide or download the Seafood Watch app to find some sustainable seafood recommendations. For global recommendations the WWF’s seafood guides are a good start.
Choose your fish wisely: Eating fish is generally healthy but many fish species are contaminated with mercury and other pollutants. Children and pregnant women, in particular, should be extra careful when choosing seafood. Check KidSafeSeafood and be safe!
Buy from ethical companies; ask your local grocers and chefs to do the same: Vote with your wallet by supporting companies that show a real commitment to protecting the environment. Fish2Fork has a guide to ethical restaurants in several countries, and visit FishChoice.com to link up sustainable buyers and sellers.
Make your voice heard! Petition: Tell your political representatives that overfishing is an issue you can about, want them to act on, and you’ll vote on. Sign petitions, weigh in with opportunities for public comment, and email or write your representatives. Sign Petitions with organized movements that address overfishing such as WWF’s More Fish (EU) campaign, Save our Seas campaign and Hugh’s Fish Fight (North Sea), The Wildlife Trusts Petition (UK), or browse specific petitions to sign through Care to Petition or Change .
Cut down on your meat consumption: As much a third of the annual global catch is ‘forage fish’ which become fish meal—much of which is then used to raise cows, chickens and pigs in factory farms, as well as some aquacultured species, like farmed salmon. By cutting down on your meat consumption, you will reduce demand for these forage fish which are a vital component of the complex oceanic food web.
Screen a fish film: Spread the word about the overfishing problem. Consider showing a documentary such as The End of the Line at home, in your school, community center, or place of worship.
Plastic and Rubbish
The ocean is downstream from all of us so no matter where we live, we can all help address the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. Each year a huge amount of plastic eventually makes it into coastal waters and harms ocean life. The great pacific garbage patch is the result of 10% of our waste, and reducing plastic use is not enough.
Stop using Plastic bags: There is no justification for single use plastic bags. As consumers, we each have the power to reduce demand, as a whole we should be able to completely stop using plastic bags. Encourage a plastic free campus, office, town, city or country! Many countries, such as the UAE will, or already have, completely banned the use of plastic bags.
Plastic water bottles: Invest in a reusable water bottle, and filter water if necessary. Request a public water fill station in your town. In Italy public water stations supply sparkling and still water at extremely low costs and all you have to do is bring your water bottles and fill them up! Cheaper than buying them from a supermarket!
Finally, Buy less stuff: Yes, there has to be a shift in our consumerist habits. The marketing industry and advertising is designed to make you think you NEED a specific object. Think before you buy and ask whether you really need something; do not be fooled by adverts and fashion. If you can get it second hand, do!
The ocean covers 71% of our planet and is a major influence on weather and climate. In fact it is the ocean that makes our planet habitable. Without the ocean as a heat sink, a water recycler and a transporter we would not be here now. Whether you’re on a coastal city or far inland, World Oceans Day reminds us why and how we can be good stewards of this part of our living world.