Sustainable Tips for the Ocean
Sustainable Tips for the Ocean: How to Experience without Exploiting
We all love the water, but humans and the ocean don’t always maintain an equally beneficial relationship. We tend to take more than we give, slowly creating more pollution and hazardous conditions over time for marine life and humans alike. If you’re planning a sea-side visit or vacation any time soon, try to keep a few of these sustainable tips for the ocean in mind to ensure you’re experiencing the ocean without exploiting it.
Physically being in the ocean gives us the most control over our effect on it, but it’s also where we can do some serious damage. Activities like swimming, surfing, and SCUBA diving can all have a tremendous impact on the quality of water, sea-life, and coral reefs.
If you’re swimming, you should be conscious of the chemicals present on your body, because all of them are going to end up in the ocean. To avoid this issue, try using only organic shampoos, lotions, and an all-natural, reef-safe sunscreen.
Surfing has never really been considered a sustainable water sport. Fortunately, some brands are taking steps to make surfing more eco-friendly, with surf boards from Five Oceans constructed with recycled ocean waste, and fair-trade Patagonia wetsuits made from renewable materials.
SCUBA diving can be incredibly harmful to coral reefs. Not only does it usually involve the aforementioned chemically-based sunscreens and wetsuits, but all too often, uneducated divers end up directly damaging coral reefs by getting too close and touching or kicking them (hopefully) by accident. If you plan to go SCUBA diving, make sure you research the company you’re booking with in order to ensure they’re not endangering the local reefs with their malpractices.
Boating can be particularly harmful to water quality; and not just because of fuel leakage and sediment disruption. Paints, cleaning products, and protectants used to maintain a boat’s hull often seep into the water, polluting the environment and endangering wildlife. Boaters that wish to preserve their favorite bodies of water can help by making sure they’re not over filling their fuel tanks, using only natural cleaning products, and waxing the hull often to avoid the need for harsh cleaning.
Cruise ships have often struggled with similar criticisms over the years, albeit on a larger scale than your typical recreational boaters. Cruises require large amounts of fuel and generate an impressive amount of waste, causing many people to see them as an anti-environment industry. However, new luxury cruise lines like Virgin Voyages are positioning themselves as the sustainable cruise option. Virgin is utilizing new technologies like Scanship and Climeon to turn both their excess heat and waste into clean energy and purified water. So you can sail the ocean blue with confidence that it will stay that color.
Ocean sustainability applies to more than what happens when we go into the water. It also applies to what we take out of it. Global seafood consumption has been on the rise lately and is currently higher than its been in the last 50 years. This has put a strain on the sustainability of the fishing industry.
There are a few things you can do in order to help the seafood industry stay sustainable. First, whenever possible, you should buy from local fisheries so you know exactly where your food is coming from. Small-scale fishermen tend to use lower-impact catch methods such as hook and line, as opposed to fishing with large nets which can cause a multitude of problems. If local seafood is tougher to come by, you should at least stick to fish caught in America. Other countries lack regulations that prevent overfishing, which contributes to the rapid depletion of supply. Also, the US has been known to inspect a minimal amount of the seafood we import, so you’re better off sticking to what we catch ourselves.
Another way to promote sustainable seafood is to simply try new varieties. Give the old standards a break and venture into uncharted waters. High demand leads to overfishing and unsafe catch habits, but if you focus on some less popular (but equally delicious) types of fish, octopus you will give other populations time to expand back to healthy levels.
Oceans are beautiful to experience and wonderful to explore, but if we’re not careful, we could end up losing the purity of this natural resource to pollution and human negligence. Promoting sustainability is important to do now so that we can still enjoy our oceans for years to come.