Respect the ocean. Photo: Shutterstock.


The Inertia

The ocean is the life creator and the life support of the planet. It’s where it all began, and where it all ends. That sounds a bit inflated, right? Over the top? Well, it’s the truth even if we don’t always act this way.

Historically, we soft-skinned land-lubbers have thought of the sea as a bonus feature to land. A place where we can find an inexhaustible supply of food, resources and also a pretty useful place to flush out all our waste from the land. However, humans are exceptionally good at ignoring the facts. This planet is not land surrounded by sea; it is the sea with some elevated points of land. The ocean makes up to 99% of the available living space on this planet. So in a sense, it isn’t Planet Earth, it’s Planet Ocean.

Oceanographer David Gallo says we need to learn and understand more about the world by looking at the water. “70 percent of Earth is covered with water,” he says. “And you could say ‘hey, I know Planet Earth; I live here.’ You don’t know Earth. You don’t know this planet. Because most of it is covered with water.”

On top of this, only 5% of Earth’s waters have been explored by humans. The largest mountain ranges, canyons, and waterfalls are all beneath the sea.

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As for mankind, when you were in the womb, the fluid keeping you alive resembled the chemical composition of seawater. And now your body is made of up to 60% water. Your blood plasma bears very close similarities to the ocean and every second breath you take is from the ocean’s “biological carbon pump,” phytoplankton. So if you’re looking to a higher power, look to the sea. It’s keeping you alive.

This is the point where things get a little contentious, though. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before:

-Overfishing
-Coral bleaching
-Ocean dead zones
-Shark-finning
-Pollution

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And the list goes on. It’s likely you’re reading this because you too have an appreciation of the sea. And so do many others. Respecting the ocean is a two-way street. You have to respect to be respected. It’s not about being an “idiot greenie,” it’s showing you give a shit. Although I tend to see that in this day and age we have become swamped in the mass of social, cultural and environmental issues, not knowing what to prioritize or where to begin. We then, in all of our competing exasperation, result to “sharing” something on social media, signing an online petition, or just ignoring the issue in its entirety. But for the ocean, the real life problems are urgent. Taking practical steps to address the bigger issues are the best way to start.

So, where do you get started?

Well, let’s begin with seafood consumption. In 2006, Scientists from Dalhousie University released a paper that predicted the end of all commercially fished species by 2048. That signifies the end of the ocean as we know it in only two decades time. The 2048 prediction is brought on by overfishing. More than 85% of the world’s fisheries have been pushed beyond their limits with species such as Bluefin Tuna now “threatened.” If you choose to eat seafood, select certified sustainably sourced products. Ignore the gimmicks, look to what the professionals say. Here are some basic facts to get you started for sustainable seafood in Australia:

-Reduce your total seafood consumption.
-Eat less Atlantic salmon, barramundi, king prawns, banana prawns and tiger prawns, mahi mahi, and basa.
-Select wild caught Australian salmon, whiting, snapper, flathead, calamari, and bay prawns.
-Select Australian farmed prawns, oysters, and mussels.
-Only choose skipjack tuna. Avoid bluefin, yellowfin, and bigeye. Ensure the method listed on your tuna can is the sustainable “pole and line” caught.
-Avoid flake, sea bream, mulloway, gemfish, deep sea perch, pink/tropical snapper, imported blue grenadier, imported prawns and imported cod.

Another obvious, but overlooked step is reducing your carbon footprint. Take your bike or public transport. Turn off the light. Switch to op-shopping. Cut down your food miles by seeking locally sourced produce. You’ve heard it all before but being conscious of your environmental impact makes an enormous difference in the long run.

And what to do about plastic? Well, every single piece of plastic that was ever created still exists today. Rubbish Island or whatever you’d like to call the Pacific Ocean’s floating vortex of garbage is the size of Texas and still growing. Plastic pieces on the ocean’s surface outnumber marine species six to one.

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The mass concentration of rubbish in the sea causes the photodegradation of plastics to occur. The photodegradation means that these plastics in the sea break down into smaller and smaller pieces gradually becoming a part of the food chain.

Although the term recycling is used to explain the waste management of plastic, it does not accurately express the fact that plastic is actually downcycled, meaning the cycle of recycling is not fulfilled. In Australia, there is limited infrastructure to support the recycling and continued use of plastics in the cycle. This trend is furthered in the US with 93% of plastics not being recycled.

The only way to curb these trends is to be an active citizen of the world and make choices. Say no to single use plastic items like plastic bags, drink bottles, cutlery, take away containers, cling wrap, straws and coffee cups. Don’t purchase the carrots in the bag, buy them loose. It’s the simple choices and lifestyle changes you can make to help keep our sea healthy. After making the transition from being an observer of change (signing petitions and sharing posts), to a promoter of change (taking physical action), you will begin to see positive changes around you. Use the year 2048 not as a warning, but a matter of severe urgency. 2048 marks the ocean’s use by date as we know it.

A tweak to your routine is the easiest way to start because we need the ocean; the ocean does not need us.

Note: You can find more from the author here.

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