We hear you. Loud and clear: you’d like to know how or what you can do to help save the oceans.
Here are 10 simple steps you can take to help protect our seas and oceans.
Drum roll, please… In no particular order:
1. When buying fish, think “where, how and what size”
- Fresh fish on sale must be labeled by law with details on how and where it was caught, among other information. This is the best guide to know if the fish was sustainably caught or not. If it was caught by bottom trawling, there’s a bigger chance it’s not sustainable.
- Avoid juvenile fish (young/baby fish), since they are not able to reproduce and cannot help replenish overexploited fish populations. Have a look at Fishsizematters.eu, here you can find more information about your favourite kind of fish!
- If you want to take it a step further, try to mainly eat fish like herring, sardine, anchovy… instead of marine predators like hake, salmon, cod, seabass… When you eat a carnivorous fish, you’re also eating all the fish it has eaten before!
2. Is your fish a fake?
- Seafood fraud - or getting another type of fish than the one stated on the menu - is a global problem, so when ordering fish, ask the waiter or double check if what you are getting is really what you asked for. Even if fillets look alike, the taste and the environmental status of bluefin tuna and albacore are not the same, neither are the ones of cod and saithe or grouper and perch. If the price seems too cheap… ask!
3. Plastic and sea life don’t mix
- We know that the oceans are sadly full of plastic. Try to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic you buy and use, especially the so-called single-use plastics. These include plastic bottles, cutlery, straws etc. Also try to avoid buying fruit and vegetables wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging.
- Check if your cosmetics are ocean-friendly ones and that they don’t include microplastics (plastic microbeads), which cause harm to marine life and potentially also human health.
- Synthetic fibers break up when we do laundry, and millions of microfibers composed of plastic and chemicals go from our drains into the oceans. Try to instead stick to clothing items made from natural materials.
4. Bin it correctly
- Dispose of toxic products such as old batteries and medicines in the proper allocated facilities, so that they don’t pollute waterways.
- If you need to use plastic, make sure you dispose of it properly. Even though only around 9% all of plastic produced has been recycled, more rubbish needs to be recycled and more products need to be made recyclable. Even litter on the streets can eventually make its way to the oceans, while also making your streets and city dirty.
5. Keep pollution out the drains
- From your drain at home into the sea. Don’t pour oils down the drain, look for eco-friendly washing powder, use a sunscreen that causes the least amount of pollution... There are many small steps you can take to prevent pollution from entering rivers and thereby reaching the sea.
- Always pick up after yourself when you’re on the beach, and don’t leave anything behind – cigarette butts are the largest contributor to marine litter, and they are full of toxic components.
6. Watch what you eat
- Go the extra mile and think about the product you buy. Land and ocean ecosystems are connected. If you buy organic fruits and vegetables and reduce the fertilisers you use in your own garden, you help curb the excess of nutrients in the sea. Algae often bloom due to fertilisers, and they end up consuming all the oxygen in an area and thereby turn it into a dead zone.
- Do a little bit of research to see if your farmed fish comes from sustainable aquaculture that pays attention to the use of antibiotics and the waste released into the marine ecosystem.
7. A smaller carbon footprint
- Oceans absorb CO2 emissions that make waters warmer and more acidic – a major problem for thousands of marine species. Simple adjustments in your daily routines can make a difference in minimising your carbon footprint. Use your car less and instead opt for public transport. When planning your next trip, keep in mind that trains are better than planes.
- Locally-sourced seafood also help reduce your CO2 footprint. Labels must always include the origin of the fish (hint: FAO 27 means European Atlantic waters and FAO 37 means the Mediterranean).
8. A healthy respect
- Enjoy the ocean, but keep in mind what may be a place of fun for you is the actual home of many kinds of living creatures. Don’t damage it. Be careful when you sail or surf, and if you are diving, please do not disturb marine species. Act as a guest, not an intruder.
- Stay away from products that harm marine species – whether it is jewellery made from red coral or face creams with shark squalene.
9. Education and awareness
- The oceans cover over 70% of the planet and provide half of the oxygen we breathe so basically, they are vital for human life! They also regulate our climate and provide a home to millions of marine animals. If we educate ourselves, we can do a better job of looking after them.
- Spread the word on social media about the oceans and about environmental groups such as Oceana (@OceanaEurope :P) or make a donation – whatever you can – to help us save the oceans for future generations. You can also join petitions or message your politicians to ask for better legislation to protect the oceans.
10. Take action
- Why not take part in a local beach clean-up? Or volunteer for an ocean awareness campaign? You can initiate projects within your community or simply be ready to react if you witness someone polluting the sea or damaging marine species.
- Lead by example and educate your children so that they can become the next ocean heroes!