By: Katie McClenny
In honor of World Oceans Day, we wanted to shed some light on some of the current traumas that our oceans are facing. In no particular order, here are the top 3 issues that are damaging our oceans and what you can do to help stop it.
This one comes as no surprise. I know we are all probably tired of hearing about plastic in the ocean but we can’t stop talking about it until change is enforced. It’s estimated that each minute that passes there is the equivalent of a garbage truck worth of plastic entering the ocean. By the year 2050, it’s predicted that there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. Even some of the most remote places of the ocean contain some form of plastic. This abundance of plastic is killing marine species of all shapes and sizes. Animals can’t tell the difference between food and plastic. This means that they are ingesting massive amounts of plastic as their food source. If you look through the food chain, all of this plastic that smaller fish are consuming is building up in the systems of the larger predators.
Of course the best way to stop plastic from entering the ocean is to cut single use plastic out of your lifestyle. Stay prepared! That’s the best advice for living a plastic free lifestyle. Make sure you bring reusable utensils, bowls, everything with you so that you never reach for a plastic version. Another way to help is to clean up trash when you go to the beach. Don’t get in the dangerous mindset of thinking “this isn’t my mess to clean up”. We are all responsible for cleaning up the planet, even if you feel like you are doing more than your share.
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#2 Commercial Fishing
This topic is one that, unlike plastic use, isn’t very widely discussed. If you’re someone who still eats seafood, it’s a great time to think otherwise. When a company says that they fish sustainably and only catch fish species that are in abundance, they are covering up the truth. Bycatch is described as all of the creatures that are caught in the nets when commercial fishing boats pull in their nets. Think of when Dory got caught in the fishing net in Finding Nemo! Even though the net was intended for tuna, it caught other species as well. It’s virtually impossible for a net to only catch the intended fish species. When you eat tuna fish or other kinds of fish, you aren’t just responsible for the capture of that one fish. You’re contributing to the death of sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, and many other fish that just happened to be in the wrong place and the wrong time.
Along the lines of plastic use, there is a lot of discarded fishing gear that is entangling marine species such as seals and sea lions. When a net gets tangled and the fishing crew is unable to pull up the net, the line just gets cut and falls where it may. These nets are entangling marine species to where they are unable to move, breathe, or fend for themselves. They eventually pass away from this entanglement. Even if you aren’t in the habit of consuming seals or sea lions, purchasing seafood products is still paying for their death.
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#3 Ocean Acidification
Ocean acidification, in my opinion, is the least talked about concern for the ocean. Without turning this into a chemistry lesson, the ocean is supposed to be classified as basic on the pH scale with a pH level of 8.2. Over the past 200 years the ocean has become 25% more acidic than it was, or should be. This is leading to the bleaching of coral reefs and the death of pH sensitive species such as mollusks (oysters, snails, etc.). When the ocean water gets too acidic it prevents hard shells from forming due to a reaction with the necessary calcium that shells and coral require. Coral reefs are absolutely vital to the health of our oceans. They are home to countless species and are an excellent measure of the health of the ocean.
The actions taken to prevent the ocean becoming more acidic are a bit more difficult. It requires true lifestyle change. The best way to help is to lower your carbon footprint. This means consume little to no animal products, switch to renewable energy sources, and drive less; all of the things that make a greater difference in the pollution being added to our environment.
For more information on this issue pleased read: https://climateinterpreter.org/content/humans-can-take-action-slow-process-ocean-acidification