10 Ways: So You Want to Save the Ocean

Wait.  Are we actually posting a list of ten ways to save the ocean?

Yes.  Yes we are. (Because they're in a bit of trouble.)

But we promise not to mention beach cleanups or recycling or avoiding bluefin tuna (cuz you already do that, right?).  Instead we promise ten ideas that you might not have considered before because you may not have recognized the connections between food, water and energy. Saving water to save energy or saying no to corn ethanol because of food shortages- that's what we're about.

Here's an easy and different top ten list that we promise won't make you want to curse us out.

  1. Eat Organic Food: Less chemicals in your body is a lovely reason to eat organic, but so is less fertilizer running off of farmland, into local waterways and finally into the ocean.  Lots of fertilizer = dead zones; and ocean life - except for bacteria - hates dead zones.
  2. Wear Organic Cotton: Cotton may or may not be the fabric of our lives, but it's certainly the dirtiest.  Cotton uses 15 percent of the world's insecticides, more than any other single crop.
  3. Shrink Your CO2 Footprint: The CO2 power plants and cars release into the atmosphere doesn't all stay in the atmosphere, in fact about 25 percent is absorbed by the ocean.  This has led to rapidly increasing ocean acidity, with potentially dire consequences for sea life.  Now might be a good time to check out the EPA's nine steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint.
  4. Fight for Global CO2 Reductions: Groups like 350.org are calling for major global initiatives to help stop carbon emissions from continuing to trash the planet. The group is specifically calling for a "Robin Hood Tax," a fractional tax on speculative banking transactions that would generate billions of dollars to tackle climate change and poverty.
  5. End Foreign Fisheries Subsidies: What's the best way to end overfishing?  Stop the handouts.  Massive foreign fishing fleets are staying afloat not because business is great, but because of government subsidies that allow too many boats to prowl the ocean's fisheries.  The solution?  Make them operate in the world of supply and demand just like the United States fishing fleet. (If you're familiar with agricultural subsidies then you know they present a similar set of problems on land, but that's the topic of another -- or many other -- posts.) Oceana has some thoughts on what we can do.
  6. Make Sustainable Seafood Choices: Red, yellow, green...sustainable seafood cards are helpful, but in a pinch remember a couple of quick and easy suggestions: eat low on the food chain (think sardines, not tuna) and always ask your restaurant server where the fish came from.  Awkward?  Sure, but if the server keeps hearing that customers aren't selecting the orange roughy because it's not sustainable, the chef will take note.
  7. Don't Get Your Omega 3's from Fish Oil: As we discussed on the blog back in January, Omega 3's are a very good thing, but getting them from fish oil is unnecessary, and even contributes to serious declines in important lower food chain fish species like menhaden. Instead, eat up your walnuts and flaxseed, and try Omega 3 supplements made from algae, which is what oily fish like menhaden get their healthy fatty acids from in the first place!
  8. More Ocean Reserves: Conservation areas give nature a break from all of our demands, but less than 0.5 percent of marine habitats are protected, compared with 11.5 percent of global land area.  Since 71 percent of the Earth is covered by the ocean that seems a little unfair, no?  There may be a lot of marine protected areas in United States waters, but we need to establish many more "Yosemites of the Sea."
  9. Reduce Plastics Use: Every piece of plastic that's ever been made, unless it's been melted or recycled, is still around in its original form. Much of this waste has found its way into the ocean and other waterways, and it's not only ugly but it's bad for marine life as well.  Check out the Plastic Free Guide to learn how to go plastic-free - you might be surprised at just how much plastic there is in your life.
  10. Mimic Nature with Green Infrastructure: We have a lot of impermeable surfaces in our cities and towns. This means that rainfall and snowmelt end up carrying pollutants off of parking lots, roads and roofs into storm drains, often directly into our water ways and ultimately the ocean. Green infrastructure can help by creating more permeable surfaces like rain gardens and constructed wetlands that reduce the flow of polluted runoff.

Oceans cover 71 percent of our planet. They drive our climate, our economy, and for many of us, our way of life. So start doing your part - check out the links, write some letters, eat a few sardines and start saving our oceans right away.