This list has been adapted from materials provided by the international ocean conservation organization Oceana
1. Eat sustainable seafood.
Carry a sustainable seafood card and ask your seafood restaurant or fish market to buy from sustainable fisheries. Look for special terms like “line caught”, “diver caught”, “sustainably caught” or “sustainably harvested.
WHY: Global fisheries are on the verge of collapse. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), three quarters of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation. More than 90% of the big predator fish (things like shark, tuna, swordfish) are gone.
2. Reduce energy use.
There are many simple ways you can reduce your energy use. Ride a bike, walk or use public transportation. Use high efficiency appliances in your home. Turn off appliances when they aren’t in use. Turn up your thermostat a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your house.
WHY: Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is making our oceans more acidic. One consequence could be the loss of corals on a global scale, as their calcium skeletons are weakened by the increasing acidity of the water.
3. Use reusable plastic products.
Use cloth grocery bags, reusable water bottles and coffee mugs. Take the Plastic Pledge.
WHY: Plastic debris in the ocean degrades marine habitats and contributes to the deaths of many marine animals. Because floating plastic often resembles food to many marine birds, sea turtles and marine mammals, they can choke or starve because their digestive systems get blocked when they eat it. Help prevent these unnecessary deaths.
4. Properly dispose of hazardous materials.
Don’t let used motor oil drip onto the ground, don’t dump that oil or used paints and other chemicals carelessly. Find out where your county or city allows this kind of waste disposal and dispose of it properly.
WHY: Motor oil and other hazardous materials often end up washing into coastal areas because they aren’t disposed of properly. This pollutes the water and hurts the overall health of our oceans. Be sure to dispose of hazardous waste in an environmentally safe way.
5. Use less fertilizer—or encourage others to.
If you garden, or take care of a lawn, consider growing native plants which need less fertilizer. When you do fertilize, use it sparingly.
WHY: When fertilizers are used in gardening and agriculture, the excess eventually ends up in the ocean. One result is a “dead zone”—an area with very low levels of oxygen in the water—the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico during the spring and summer. Since all marine life requires oxygen to live, including fish and shrimp, they must flee the area or die. Many other coastal areas are at risk too. So, use fertilizer sparingly and remember more is usually not better.
6. Pick up garbage and litter near beaches.
Don’t let your day at the beach contribute to the destruction of our oceans. Bring a trash bag with you for your garbage and volunteer for beach clean-ups.
WHY: Much of the plastic and debris found in the ocean has its beginnings in beach litter. As beach crowds increase, so does the amount of trash left behind. Marine debris is creating islands of waste in every ocean, which not only kills marine life, but it is creating a whole new ecosystem out in the oceans that can harbor dangerous bacteria such as cholera.
7. Buy ocean-friendly products.
Read the labels on everything you buy and avoid products produced through unsustainable or environmentally harmful methods. For example, some cosmetics contain shark squalene, and jewelry made of coral or sea turtle shells are popular in beach resorts.
WHY: These products are directly linked to unsustainable fishing methods and the destruction of entire ecosystems.
8. Share with a friend.
Tell people what’s going on with the world’s oceans and what they can do to make a difference.
WHY: Because when you tell ten people, and they tell ten people, you can help change the world.