By Sandra Roussy
The oceans are in danger. Ocean habitats and marine biodiversity are being threatened by unsustainable and unregulated fishing practices, exploitation of marine wildlife, and plastic waste. Human activity is proving to be destructive to ocean ecosystems, coral reefs, and coasts all around the world at an alarming rate. Marine environments need biodiversity to survive and remain healthy. Some species simply can’t survive when ecosystems become unbalanced, which in turn affects a variety of other species. That includes us.
Ocean conservation organizations help to protect and defend marine wildlife, ocean ecosystems, and habitats through direct action tactics, research, and outreach programs. Most ocean conservation groups are non-profit organizations that rely on donations and active hands-on help from people. People like you!
“If the oceans die, we die.”
– Captain Paul Watson
What You Can Do to Help Save the Oceans
Ever wonder how you can do your part to help the oceans? Saving the oceans is an enormous challenge; it can leave you feeling helpless before such a monumental task. But when you start consciously doing things that are beneficial and not harmful to the ocean, you can say that you are doing your part. Big or small, it all counts. Don’t throw your hands up because you don’t have the time or the skills to get on a boat to go stop illegal poachers off the coast of Africa, or dive into the coral reefs in Australia to document their destruction. There are other simpler ways that you can step in to help preserve the oceans and marine wildlife.
Donate to Ocean Conservation Organizations: Donate money directly to conservation groups. This is the easiest thing you can do if you don’t have the time to allocate to action. Your money goes directly to the ships and crews out there protecting the oceans and defending marine wildlife full-time.
Go to the website of your conservation organization of choice and find the donate button. They all will take one-time donations and most will also have the option of setting you up with a monthly recurring donation.
Also, some groups participate in environmental fairs and other events where they do outreach and accept donations on the spot.
Volunteer Your Time: The next best thing to do is become active with ocean conservation groups. Find operational chapters in your area and inquire about where and how they need help.
I am part of the Sea Shepherd onshore volunteer group, and together with the ship crew, we sell merchandise and educate people about what is happening in the oceans.
Purchase Merchandise: Show your support by wearing a t-shirt from your favorite ocean conservation organization!
Non-profit ocean conservation organizations finance most of their activities through donations but also a big chunk of funding comes through sales of merchandise. Go to their websites and check the shops.
Local Beach Clean-Ups: Organize beach and coastal clean-ups in your area or join an existing group. Every plastic bottle, fishing net, or other debris that you remove from the beach will not end up in in a marine animal or sea bird. I regularly do local beach and coastal clean-ups with the Sea Shepherd team and local volunteers. We meet a minimum of twice a month and more frequently during the stormy season when a lot of plastic and trash ends up on the beaches from the runoff of the rivers.
Check Facebook pages in coastal areas for active beach clean-up events in your area and join them or create your own.
Crew on Ships: Do you have what it takes to be on the frontline? If so, become an active crew member on a ship. They are in constant need of captains, deckhands, cooks, researchers, and media people to help keep the boats busy on campaigns. Check ocean conservation websites and apply to become a crew member.
Personal Actions: There are simple things that you can do in your daily life to help protect the state of the oceans. First, educate yourself. Find out where the fish you buy comes from and whether it is a sustainable species. Second, minimize your use of single-use plastics and properly reuse or recycle your plastic consumption so that it doesn’t end up polluting the ocean.
Ocean Conservation Organizations
Ocean conservation groups all have the same goal in mind, but vary in the way they tackle their missions. Some use aggressive non-violent direct actions to confront poachers and other illegal activity, while others concentrate on assisting in research and educating future generations.
The pioneer ocean conservation society Sea Shepherd is an international and non-profit marine conservation organization that has been fighting to defend, conserve and protect the world’s oceans for over 45 years. Sea Shepherd has gone and will continue to go where no other conservation groups dare to go to safeguard marine wildlife. Their ongoing international direct-action campaigns are meant to stop illegal exploitation and outdated fishing practices.
Sea Shepherd’s goal is to defend the biodiversity of marine ecosystems by acting against environmental destruction. In 2018, after a 40-year battle, the organization managed to put a stop to commercial Japanese whaling activities. You may remember the “Whale Wars” documentary series that ran on Animal Planet from 2008 to 2015. Sea Shepherd has active international campaigns, notably the Milagro campaign to help save the almost extinct vaquita porpoise in the Sea of Cortez here in Northern Mexico.
Captain Paul Watson recently left Sea Shepherd, the organization he founded over 45 years ago, to start a new initiative, the Captain Paul Watson Foundation. The Foundation will work to continue Watson’s passionate defense of the seas by using aggressive but non-violent tactics to stop illegal operations that exploit life in the ocean.
Many other organizations, like Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Conservation Society, 4ocean, and Oceana are out there protecting the oceans every day and they won’t stop as long as the oceans are still threatened.
Visit these websites for more information about ocean conservation and learn how you can support the movement.
*Featured image from Proceso Magazine