Oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface. But with the ocean under pressure, marine conservation is a big topic. Human activity has affected our oceans, and taken its toll on marine life. But there are many ways that we can get involved in marine conservation.
Marine conservation focuses on activities that make a positive impact in maintaining the health of the ocean environment and marine life. Because creatures in the sea and on land depend on our oceans, we could all benefit from a proactive approach to marine conservation.
So, whether you’re a recreational diver or just a fan of the big blue, there are many different ways that you can contribute towards making a positive impact. We list seven ways you can make a start, or even build on the efforts being made to conserve and protect the oceans.
1) Go greener
Knowing more about the causes of climate change can help you to reduce your day-to-day contribution to it.
The production of greenhouse gas – like carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour – is mostly the result of human activity. The build-up of these gases in the atmosphere means that too much of the heat emitted by the sun is trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The effects of climate change include:
- warmer ocean temperatures
- rising water levels
- a rise in the pH level of the ocean.
These pose a threat to the survival of the ocean’s fauna and flora. But there are steps that each of us can take to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Many of the activities we participate in every day – like driving our cars and using electricity – contribute to the build-up of greenhouse gases. By becoming more aware of how we contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, we can start to see what kinds of changes we can make to become more environmentally friendly. We can start to reduce our carbon footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere due to our daily activities.
It’s easiest to begin by making small changes, like using energy-efficient light bulbs, joining a lift club, or even cycling more often than you use your car. And once you’ve started, it’ll become easier to build on your green lifestyle – a lifestyle that maintains the health of the environment.
And since knowledge is power, signing up for an online program in sustainable development, that can teach you more about marine conservation, is a great first step in making a positive contribution towards the well-being of our oceans.
But keeping an eye on your carbon footprint doesn’t end there.
2) Cut down on your plastic use
The Two Oceans Aquarium states that there are 500 times more pieces of microplastic – tiny pieces of plastic – in the ocean than there are stars in our galaxy. And this makes things tricky for marine creatures. This is based on a 2015 study that estimated between 15 and 51 trillion microplastics particles floating on the surface of the oceans.
Single-use plastic pollutes our oceans and destroys marine habitats and ocean creatures. Apart from becoming entangled in plastic, certain creatures, like sea turtles, develop the “floating syndrome” where they float from ingesting plastic. A floating turtle can’t flee from predators or move away from boats, let alone dive down into the ocean for its next meal.
You can reduce your plastic usage by opting out of using plastic where it isn’t really necessary, replacing single-use plastic items with reusable ones, and recycling any plastic that you do use.
3) Cut down on toxic chemicals
When oils and chemicals aren’t disposed of properly, they can find their way into our oceans, causing pollution and affecting marine life.
Think of your own body, if you fill it with unhealthy things, you might get sick and won’t be able to perform at your best. Any toxic chemicals that enter the ocean affect its overall health.
Take note of the oils and chemicals you use, and check the packaging to see how to dispose of them safely. Toxic materials, like motor oil and household cleaning chemicals, can’t just be poured down the drain. But you can get rid of them at drop-off sites designed for this purpose.
You could also switch to more environmentally-friendly cleaning products that break down in the environment, instead of sticking around and contributing towards environmental pollution.
4) Join Project Aware Dive Against Debris
Want to help clear the oceans of existing plastic waste? Think ahead about how you can get involved with Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris campaign in your community by:
- picking up any marine debris you come across during your dives
- organising group Dives Against Debris events in your area
- looking into collaborating with local authorities and making this a regular event.
Besides just getting involved yourself, you might just spark interest in someone else, and soon you could have a whole team working together to help clean up our oceans!
If you’re not a diver, think about how you could organise a beach clean in your area instead.
5) Support sustainable fisheries
As the human population continues to grow, there are more and more mouths to feed. Overfishing has seen fish populations being depleted all around the world. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Taking a sustainable approach to fishing and development can make all the difference. This means using resources in a way that doesn’t deplete them. So for fishermen, this may mean only catching the types of fish that are present in large numbers in the ocean. For developers, it also means building only what is necessary, and ensuring that important marine ecosystems are not affected by development.
And there are ways that you can get involved too. We could be more selective about the types of fish we buy by using the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSCs) list of approved fish as a guide. In this way, we can support, and help promote sustainable fisheries.
And sustainability applies to more than just the fish you eat.
6) Watch out for items made containing marine life products
When you visit a coastal town you are likely to see souvenirs made from various forms of marine life. Think of those tortoiseshell hair accessories, coral jewellery and shark tooth necklaces you’ve seen at seaside markets.
- tortoiseshell hair accessories
- coral jewellery
- shark products, especially teeth and fins
- any cosmetics containing traces of whales or sharks.
You may even find products at your favourite make-up store that contain ingredients taken from certain marine animals – like certain lipsticks or moisturisers. However tempting that new red lipstick might look, be sure it’s ocean-friendly – meaning that it doesn’t contain marine animal products.
While the term ocean-friendly is being used less these days, ensuring that products are environmentally friendly also means that their production hasn’t had a negative effect on the environment – on land, or in the sea.
7) Promote marine conservation efforts
Marine education and public awareness are key drivers of marine conservation efforts. This is how the public becomes aware of the challenges facing our oceans. It’s also a platform where people can become empowered to make a positive contribution to marine conservation efforts in their own way.
Do some research and find out if there are any marine conservation organisations or campaigns near you – like the Professional Association of Diving Instructors’ (PADI) Project AWARE –that you can support by assisting them in spreading the word about marine conservation.
Alternatively, you can lend a hand by volunteering to help communities learn about the importance of marine conservation.
And if you’ve completed your studies in marine conservation, and want to get serious about a career in the field, you could enrol in an online career course to improve your chances of getting a job in marine conservation in the future.
There’s so much going on in marine conservation. Learning about marine conservation programs all over the world, biological survey techniques, and the positive impact that marine conservation is making worldwide can prepare you to get involved in marine conservation in the future.
But our oceans are vast, and many hands make light work when it comes to marine conservation. So, you could use this newfound knowledge in a really meaningful way by promoting marine conservation, and encouraging others to get involved too.
Your continued support will contribute to raising awareness, and taking the steps needed to turn the tides in favour of our oceans!
Find out more about our online sustainable development marine conservation courses and start your journey towards making a positive impact through marine conservation. And plan ahead for contributing in the underwater wonderland with one of GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programs and internships. Make an impact with one of our marine conservation projects in Fiji, Mexico, Greece or Seychelles.