22 Ways You Can Save the Oceans

Aquanauts intern Chris gathers garbage during one of Aquanauts many  low-key reef cleanups.

Aquanauts intern Chris gathers garbage during one of Aquanauts' many low-key reef cleanups.

This year’s Project AWARE International Cleanup Day is already history, but divers should work every day to save the oceans; not just with one big media-grabbing activity a year. Here at Aquanauts, we work on every dive to restore Pattaya’s undersea world, without the hoopla of photographers snapping an armada of boats hired just for the day.

With that in mind, here’s 22 things you can do every day on land or sea to  preserve our oceans.

From Project AWARE itself, comes the first ten:

  1. Remove debris you see during every recreational dive or shoreline visit.
  2. The No. 1  item found in cleanups is cigarette filters. Always dispose of them properly and never overboard.
  3. Reduce, reuse and recycle.
  4. Avoid buying plastic products.
  5. Be aware of everything you buy and avoid excessive packaging.
  6. Demand improved and increased number of recycling facilities for your area.
  7. Properly dispose of all pieces of fishing line, net or other associated litter.
  8. Keep plastics and rubbish off the ground and the ocean floor.
  9. Keep storm drains and shorelines free of rubbish.
  10. Get involved in underwater and shoreline cleanups with Project AWARE year-round or during September’s International Cleanup Day events.

But that’s not all, Oceana, the world’s largest ocean conservation organization, has it’s own suggestions. Here’s some excerpts:

  • 11. Vote responsibly. Contact your representative. — Electing the right public officials is essential to good ocean policy. Do your research and make an informed decision.
  • 12. Eat sustainable seafood. — Global fisheries are on the verge of collapse. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, three quarters of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation. Ask your seafood restaurant or fish market to buy from sustainable fisheries. Look for special terms like “line caught”, “diver caught”, “sustainably caught” or “sustainably harvested.
  • 13. Reduce energy use. — Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is making our oceans more acidic. One consequence could be the loss of corals on a global scale, as their calcium skeletons are weakened by the increasing acidity of the water.
  • 14. Properly dispose of hazardous materials. — Motor oil and other hazardous materials often end up washing into coastal areas because they aren’t disposed of properly. Be sure to dispose of hazardous waste in an environmentally safe way.
  • 15. Use less fertilizer. — When fertilizers are used in gardening and agriculture, the excess eventually ends up in the ocean. One result is a “dead zone”—an area with very low levels of oxygen in the water—the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico during the spring and summer. So, use fertilizer sparingly and remember more is usually not better.
  • 16. Pick up garbage and litter near beaches. — Much of the plastic and debris found in the ocean has its beginnings in beach litter. Bring a trash bag with you for your garbage and volunteer for beach clean-ups.
  • 17. Buy ocean-friendly products. — Avoid products produced through unsustainable or environmentally harmful methods. For example, avoid cosmetics containing shark squalene and jewelry made of coral or sea turtle shell.
  • 18. Share with a friend. — Tell people what’s going on with the world’s oceans and what they can do to make a difference. Spread the word and join the conversation via Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, the “I Am Green” conservationist website reminds us of a basic tenet of the green movement:

“What we need to do is we need to accept responsibility at a local level to reduce the amount of plastic that’s making it’s way down our waterways into the ocean,” says Steve Fleischli, now huffPo blogger and former president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, in the above clip.

Accept responsibility at a local level — it’s a concept heard again and again when discussing the environment. In fact, it’s the one of the basic tenets of the modern green movement, but we can’t remind ourselves of this responsibility enough.

Here’s a few more ideas they suggest:

  • 19. Expand public and private sponsorships to monitor and reduce debris. — The Ocean Conservancy says that in order to solve the problem, we must work past reduction in waste and aim for zero-waste.
  • 20. Fund research on the sources and impact of debris.
  • 21. Seek better technology. Developing environmentally friendly materials is important to safeguard our oceans and waterways.
  • 22. Support the inclusion of marine protection in climate change initiatives. — Governments must include ways to protect the ocean in initiatives to combat climate change and citizens must demand and support these as well as projects to reduce marine debris.
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