Oceans are Totally F*cked
So what can we do about it? Well you'll point out that what I do as an individual isn't going to make a whole bunch of difference. Which is true if I'm the only one taking action. But if we all make changes then it will help bring pressure to bear where it hurts: big business!
So what do we do? It's a complex problem and there is no simple answer. However the more of the following as you can do the better:
- Reduce your dependence on oil. Walk, don't take the car. Don't jet around the world on holiday, especially long haul. Fight against excess, especially plastic, packaging. Buy locally grown produce wherever you can to reduce food miles. You already know all these things make sense. And they all help the oceans.
The less oil we use, the less is transported around the world in mega-tankers, which run on ... yes ... oil (often horrible crude bunker oil, at that). And the fewer environmentally damaging oil spills there are. And the less off-shore drilling there is. (Yes, that may mean nuclear power; but that's an argument for another day.)
- Buy only fish which is farmed or sustainably caught and which is as locally produced as possible. We have to stop over-fishing. As well as reducing food miles.
- Reduce your garbage output. A vast amount of our garbage gets dumped at sea!
- Reduce your wastewater output; and clean up wastewater as much as possible. Yes, that means sewage, amongst other things. As with garbage it is scandalous the amount of dirty/polluted wastewater that gets dumped in the oceans.
- We also need to reduce agricultural run-off. That means reducing pesticide, herbicide and fertiliser use, and also preventing animal slurry getting into waterways. Which in turn means more sustainable land management. Going organic isn't necessarily the whole, or even the right, answer; but it should help.
- If you're an aquarist, don't keep marine fish which haven't been captive bred. Catching marine fish from the wild is extremely poorly regulated (unlike the trade in wild-caught freshwater Amazonian fishes). Fishing (for the aquatics trade and for food) does enormous damage to tropical reef environments because of the methods used.
- And anything else you can do to improve air quality and reduce climate change will help too. A large part of the problems the oceans face is from acidification, which is caused by pollutants and increased carbon dioxide levels. And if we can slow down climate warming, we'll likely slow down the rate at which the polar ice caps are receding too.
- And finally, support marine nature reserves, conservation areas and scientific efforts to better understand the oceans and their biodiversity.
Some of you won't think about any of this, and won't bother with any of it, which morally I find inexcusable. But it's your karma. Many will already be doing something. But which of us couldn't do a bit more. It all helps. I at least would like there still to be an inhabitable world for your grandchildren. And I think I have a moral obligation to do something the help ensure there is.