We are in an era in which we now find ourselves facing the consequences of our collective behavior and mistreatment of the natural world. One million species of plants and animals are currently threatened with extinction. Diminished biodiversity weakens ecosystems and has far reaching consequences. Things will get worse in the not-so-distant future if we do not shift our priorities from the economic interests of humans to the ecological interests of all species including ourselves. For over four decades, Sea Shepherd has been on the front lines of ocean conservation, protecting biodiversity against the threats of human activity. Our primary focus is combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. More than 20% of the fish taken out of the sea comes from IUU fishing. So, it’s a critical issue that must be addressed if ecosystems are to stabilize and eventually recover. Why should you care about illegal fishing? Because if you diminish fish stock, you diminish marine ecosystems. If you diminish marine ecosystems, you’re looking towards a collapse of the ability of those ecosystems to support life. The ocean provides food, it provides oxygen, and regulates temperature. All things essential for our survival. Often people tune out when they hear “fishing” because they do not feel a connection to that issue or fish in general. They are unaware that millions of sharks and over 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises die from entanglement in fishing gear each year. That is called bycatch, and it’s the single largest cause of mortality for the marine wildlife most people do care about. Simply put, large-scale fishing is killing the animals we love and need for a healthy ocean. I encourage anybody who is concerned about the state of our oceans, to get involved. Here are seven simple ways you can conserve ocean ecosystems and protect marine wildlife.
- Get Involved Every person can make a difference. Sea Shepherd is a global movement powered by the passion of volunteers around the world – people just like you. Visit seashepherd.org/get-involved to learn more about joining our at-sea campaigns or volunteer with your local chapter and participate in beach clean-ups, outreach opportunities, and more!
- Minimize Waste Avoid single-use plastics, reduce your carbon footprint, and be mindful of energy consumption.
- Show Your Support by Purchasing Official Sea Shepherd Merchandise Our products go through stringent sustainability production processes. By wearing our merchandise, you also help fund our direct-action campaigns and spread the word about ocean conservation issues. Shop Sea Shepherd https://shop.seashepherd.org/
- Avoid Products That Exploit Marine Wildlife Squalene, found in many cosmetic products, is often derived from sharks. Avoid shark liver oil, coral, and tortoiseshell jewelry. Even pet food purchasing decisions can make an impact in helping to protect some of the ocean’s most vulnerable species.
- Leave Nothing Behind While enjoying the ocean and waterfront, please ensure that you collect and dispose of your trash properly. Leave only footprints in the sand behind!
- Eliminate Marine Wildlife from Your Diet Industrial fishing is depleting fish populations more rapidly than they can regenerate. We encourage all who can eliminate fish from their diet to choose more humane and ecologically friendlier alternatives.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle Cut down on what you throw away. Follow the three “R’s” to conserve natural resources and landfill space.
- Don’t send chemicals into our waterways. Choose non-toxic chemicals in the home and office.
- Donate By supporting Sea Shepherd, you help keep our ships on the front lines of ocean conservation. Visit https://seashepherd.org/donate and help us continue to protect the ocean. We need to live in harmony with other species and protect the rights of nature. Now more than ever, we need to take action and fight for the future of our planet. We must do everything we can to protect this aquatic earth we all call home.
About the Author
Farrah Smith holds more than 20 years of experience and expertise in generating revenue and increasing support bases for non-profit and for-profit organizations. She has spent a decade working for one of the top ocean conservation organizations in the world, and is a proud member of Former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. She Founded Farrah Smith Coaching as part of her commitment to empowering teens and young adults in leading happier, more intentional, productive, and purposeful lives.