Oceana has compiled a list of suggestions for green – dare we say blue? – lifestyle choices that can help preserve the oceans for future generations.
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Electing the right public officials is essential to good ocean policy. Do your research and make an informed decision. Exercise your right to vote and stay involved after Election Day. If you have concerns or questions, contact your representative. Take action.
Global fisheries are on the verge of collapse. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), three quarters of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation. Carry a sustainable seafood card and 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.
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. There are many simple ways you can reduce your energy use. Ride a bike, walk or use public transportation. Use high efficiency appliances in your home. Turn off appliances when they aren’t in use. Turn up your thermostat a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your house. For more information, see http://www.oceana.org/climate
Plastic debris in the ocean degrades marine habitats and contributes to the deaths of many marine animals. Because floating plastic often resembles food to many marine birds, sea turtles and marine mammals, they can choke or starve because their digestive systems get blocked when they eat it. Help prevent these unnecessary deaths—use cloth grocery bags and reusable water bottles.
Motor oil and other hazardous materials often end up washing into coastal areas because they aren’t disposed of properly. This pollutes the water and hurts the overall health of our oceans. Be sure to dispose of hazardous waste in an environmentally safe way.
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. Since all marine life requires oxygen to live, including fish and shrimp, they must flee the area or die. Many other coastal areas are at risk too. So, use fertilizer sparingly and remember more is usually not better.
Much of the plastic and debris found in the ocean has its beginnings in beach litter. As beach crowds increase, so does the amount of trash left behind. Don’t let your day at the beach contribute to the destruction of our oceans. Bring a trash bag with you for your garbage and volunteer for beach clean-ups.
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. These products are directly linked to unsustainable fishing methods and the destruction of entire ecosystems.