By Anna Calia
What can we do to help the declining health of the ocean? We should act now to help save our ocean by making sustainable seafood choices, eating smaller portions of fish, and keeping storm drains clean. These actions will result in a healthier ocean and marine ecosystem.
To begin with, we are overfishing our ocean. When we fish too much of one species we alter ecosystems, and certain species starve. If we don’t stop overfishing some kinds of fish like salmon or bluefin tuna, there will be none left. That would affect all marine life and us humans too for the worst. Clearly, we need to do something about this.
Ocean Portal, an educational website focusing on the health of the ocean, says we should, “Demand sustainable seafood at the supermarket and in your favorite restaurants.” But, what is sustainable seafood? Sustainable seafood is fish that is caught without damaging the marine ecosystems and eating sustainable portions.
The Nature Conservancy, “the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect important lands and waters for nature and people,” protected 3.8 million acres of ocean habitat off California’s central coast by investing in a collapsed fishery. They partnered with independent fishermen, got fishing rights to motivate sustainable fishing practices, and created an app that tells independent fishermen where, when, and what they should fish. This caused an increase in catching the right fish by 40%, and a decrease in catching at risk fish by 65%. Fishermen received the highest rankings for sustainable seafood. If more places like ConserveCA.org do this, we will create a healthier ocean and marine ecosystem.
Now that we have good seafood, how can we tell that we’re using it well? Barton Seaver, an executive chef and cookbook author who is also director of the Sustainable Seafood and Health Initiative at Harvard, is focused on educating people about sustainable seafood. He states, the key to sustainable seafood is eating smaller portions of it and filling our plates with vegetables. So, your mother was right all along by telling you to “eat your veggies!” To sum up, we need to support eco-friendly fishing practices and consume smaller portions of fish. Also, we need to support restaurants and supermarkets that only source fish from conscious fisheries. These actions are steps we can all take to help, protect, and save our ocean.
Next, we have the problem of trash. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of our trash in the ocean stretching from the West Coast of North America to Japan. Captain Charles Moore first found the garbage patch in the Pacific around 19 years ago in 1997! Coral is getting destroyed, birds, sea mammals, and fish are dying, getting hurt, and getting tangled in this unforgivable mess humans created.
Thankfully, Boyan Slat, a 22 year old Dutch inventor and the C.E.O of The Ocean Clean Up, created a garbage barrier to clean up the 5 huge garbage patches in the ocean. He explains in the article, “A Millennial’s Fight to Clean Up 150 Million Pounds of Ocean Trash,” that with his new creation he can clean The Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years, which no one knew was possible. “It’s sort of like a long floating curtain, which is about five feet above the water and five feet below the water.” Slat says. Once the trash is collected, all the plastic will be recycled into car bumpers and multi-use plastic items, so they won’t get thrown back into the ocean. In just 10 years after Slat installs his garbage collecting curtain near The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there will be a positive impact on the ocean: Less animals will die and the ocean will be healthier, if all goes as planned with Slat’s creation.
How can we help Slat with this ongoing problem? We should start with keeping storm drains clean, and ultimately by stopping trash from entering our ocean. Ocean Portal, in an article called “How You Can Help the Ocean” cautions us to, “Remember that the trash we “throw away” doesn’t really disappear.” Since everything is connected, any trash that is left on streets and driveways washes into storm drains, and all that junk gets washed into the biggest fresh water and oxygen source: the ocean. So, make sure water is the only thing going down your storm drain.
To end with, saving the ocean is important! We should act now by making sustainable seafood choices, eating smaller portions of fish, and keeping storm drains clean. If we don’t have a healthy ocean, then we don’t have a healthy earth. Just do a few things a day to protect our ocean – Remember, we only have one!