6 actions you can take to protect our oceans
If you watched the final episode of Blue Planet 2, I don’t need to convince you that we must urgently act to protect our world’s oceans – and the stunning, diverse and intelligent species that live there.
The series has made for compelling, yet heartbreaking viewing. Who can forget ‘Percy the persistent’ tusk fish, who has ‘lost his castle’ as sea acidification (from increased carbon emissions) bleaches the coral of the Great Barrier Reef?
It’s easy to feel paralysed in the face of such a huge problem. But there are so many things we can all do to make a difference, and we can get started right away.
Refuse single-use plastic
Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.
I’m going to be frank: there’s no excuse to still be using plastic bags, takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles. Invest in reusable alternatives – our zero-waste survival kit might come in handy. It’s easy and cost-effective after the initial investment.
Other easily avoidable, replaceable or unnecessary items include plastic cotton buds, straws, and plastic packaging. You can find out more about the plastic problem with Sky’s Ocean Rescue documentary.
With growing concerns about their impact on marine and human health, it’s great that the UK government has announced it will ban the sale of products containing microbeads from next June. These tiny bits of polluting plastic are killing fish.
But this is only half the story. There are other sources of microplastics, including glitter and clothes. The biggest culprit, however, is single-use plastic which breaks down into smaller pieces – another reason to reduce your use.
Choose MSC-certified fish, and eat less of it
Around 85% of the world’s fisheries are fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. We can mitigate this by choosing responsibly sourced fish eg certified MSC.
But ultimately, if we really want to protect fish, we need to eat fewer of them. The NHS has some tips on where to get your fatty acids from instead.
Switch to eco-products
When I moved home earlier this year, I had to buy some emergency ‘normal’ washing liquid (a very popular brand). On the back, it says ‘harmful to aquatic life, with long-lasting effects’ – it’s so messed up that we just accept that!
There are lots of alternatives to using polluting cleaning products, many of which are available in supermarkets. Or you can make your own (very cheaply) with ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda.
Don’t forget about the creatures we’ve all fallen in love with (even the bobbit). Be a champion for our oceans, the animals that live there and the humans that depend on them (that’s all of us by the way). Let other people know about the problem, and what actions they can take.
I’ve heard it said many times that individuals can only do so much and companies need to take more responsibility for making these changes. This is true, but they need to know that the demand is there so write letters, tweet them and mention it in store.
In the words of Sir David Attenborough, “How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say what I knew what was happening – and I did nothing?”
10 Ways to Help our Ocean
1. Conserve WaterUse less water so excess runoff and wastewater will not flow into the ocean.
2. Reduce PollutantsChoose nontoxic chemicals and dispose of herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products properly.
3. Reduce WasteCut down on what you throw away.
4. Shop WiselyChoose sustainable seafood. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable bag.
5. Reduce Vehicle PollutionUse fuel efficient vehicles, carpool or ride a bike.
6. Use Less EnergyChoose energy efficient light bulbs and don’t overset your thermostat.
On the Water
7. Fish ResponsiblyFollow “catch and release” practices and keep more fish alive.
8. Practice Safe BoatingAnchor in sandy areas far from coral and sea grasses. Adhere to “no wake” zones.
9. Respect HabitatHealthy habitat and survival go hand in hand. Treat with care.
10. Anytime, Anywhere
VolunteerVolunteer for cleanups at the beach and in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed too!
Climate change is threatening our oceans. Alternative seafood can help.
Global efforts to curb emissions, protect marine biodiversity, and reduce the impacts of climate change on our oceans should include investments in plant-based and cultivated seafood.
From increasing ocean acidification and warming to damaged coastal ecosystems, ocean and coastlines are already bearing the brunt of climate change. Fortunately, more attention has been paid to the climate-ocean nexus in recent years. 2021 marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. And in the United States, Representative Raúl Grijalva (D, AZ-3), Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 last year.
In honor of the upcoming International Day for Biological Diversity, we’re considering how fish and shellfish—and how we produce them—can and should be part of ocean climate solutions. In addition to establishing Marine Protected Areas, strengthening fisheries policy, and properly regulating the growing aquaculture industry, global efforts to curb emissions, protect marine biodiversity, and reduce the impacts of climate change on our oceans should include investments in plant-based and cultivated seafood.
Alternative seafood can boost climate change mitigation efforts
Conventional fishing is associated with increasing greenhouse gas emissions as depleted coastal fisheries force vessels to travel farther to catch the same number of fish. Bottom trawling damages ocean floors and releases stored seabed carbon.
Plant-based and cultivated seafood offer a critical opportunity to not only diversify seafood production methods, but also reduce emissions from the industry. Alternative seafood emissions should decrease over time with greater use of renewable energy. A recent life cycle assessment found cultivated meat and seafood produced with renewable energy to be 17 percent less carbon intensive than conventional chicken and 52 percent less carbon intensive than pork. With emissions from the production of many seafood species falling between chicken and pork, we expect significant emissions reductions from shifting some seafood production to cultivated fish and shellfish.
Additionally, marine-sourced plant ingredients can be included in alternative seafood and may boost climate change mitigation efforts. For example, several species of macroalgae exhibit promising sensory and functional benefits when used as ingredients in plant-based seafood. These ingredients can be cultivated and harvested in concert with aquatic carbon sequestration methods and without the land use change associated with terrestrial agriculture.
Alternative seafood could also bolster climate resiliency
Alternative seafood can also aid in climate resiliency efforts, ensuring a safe and reliable supply of nutritious protein into the future. Current mainstream seafood production models—capture fishing and aquaculture—rely on marine and freshwater environments to produce seafood.
As climate change intensifies, our marine resources are becoming stressed. Over 90 percent of excess heat from climate change has been absorbed by our oceans since 1970, the rate of ocean warming has doubled since 1993, and the frequency of marine heat waves has doubled since 1982. Just maintaining current production levels from fisheries and aquaculture is challenging in a changing climate, let alone increasing the supply of seafood as demand grows.
Because alternative seafood does not rely on ocean resources, the production models can both protect marine biodiversity and handle the rapid changes occurring in aquatic environments. While seafood production systems that rely on the use of live fish and shellfish are affected by climate-driven population migration and heat stress mortalities, plant-based and cultivated seafood production is not disrupted by ocean temperature changes. The alternative seafood industry can also support coastal resilience strategies such as mangrove restoration by moving the supply of commonly farmed species such as shrimp away from fragile marine ecosystems.
Of course, alternative seafood is just one piece of a complex set of solutions needed to ensure that we can both produce the fish and shellfish desired by a growing global population and prevent further biodiversity loss and damage from climate change. But as we strive to reverse the cycle of ocean health decline, preserve marine biodiversity, and build a common framework of sustainable ocean development this decade, plant-based and cultivated seafood are essential and timely solutions to the existential threat of climate change. With the right global policy frameworks, alternative seafood can help us build a more sustainable, secure, and just food system.
How to save our oceans?
China Dialogue Ocean is launching a two-year series, exploring challenges to our global fisheries and marine environments and China’s role in tackling them
It is estimated that over the last fifty years almost half of the world’s fish species and population have disappeared. This is due to the vast expansion of global fishing fleets, increasing exploitation of seabed resources and climate change, which humanity has so far failed to prevent. Traces of human activity and interference can now be found from the summit of Mount Everest to the depths of the Mariana Trench.
The state we’re in
One billion people worldwide rely on the oceans for their food but over-exploitation and damage of marine environments is threatening this vital source of nutrition. To ensure that oceans remain alive and plentiful, the United Nations in 2015 made the protection and sustainable use of marine resources one of its 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), a set of shared ambitions designed to reduce poverty and ensure prosperity for all.
There has long been a scientific consensus on the reasons why fish species are disappearing and stocks shrinking: over-fishing, destruction of marine habitats, and environmental damage caused by climate change are all responsible.
A consequence of over-fishing is that fish populations cannot recover, which has a devastating impact on marine food chains that are highly interdependent. Meanwhile, oil drilling and mining damage the sea floor. Oil leaks often result in widespread death of surrounding marine organisms.
Climate change is also having an impact on marine environments. In 2016 one quarter of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died due to rising temperatures and acidification. Two thirds of the world’s largest reef already suffers from “bleaching” (the loss of algae). If global emissions are not sharply reduced there may be no coral left anywhere in the world by 2050. And as coral reefs collapse, so too do the marine systems which they support.
This is the paradox of development that humanity faces. Technological advances – from sailing vessels, to diesel-powered ships, to GPS (Global Positioning System) guided navigation – have taken us into deeper, richer waters. But as fishing boats have followed and as offshore drillers have become more experienced, the ocean has become a victim of our progress.
China and the future of the oceans
In contrast with the enthusiasm with which we have taken from the oceans, conservation efforts have always lagged behind. It was only after years of unregulated industrialised ocean fishing that the huge harm caused by illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) was recognised. Only in 2006 was a comprehensive ban on the practice of bottom trawling, where nets are dragged along the sea floor causing devastation to marine habitats, put in place.
There are now management bodies in place for some of the world’s major fishing regions. For example, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which manages catches of shrimp and cod in the Antarctic Ocean; and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which manages the catches of species of tuna and skipjack.
These bodies set and adjust fishing quotas to help maintain balanced fish populations. There are also policies designed to prevent over-fishing at all stages of the industrial chain. Meanwhile, captive fish farming is increasingly used to reduce pressure on ocean fisheries.
But illegal fishing continues, with vessels working under flags of convenience (FOC), whereby a merchant ship is registered in a country other than that of its origin, which makes illegal fishing activities difficult to track. The practice of offloading catch on to other vessels is also on the rise. Known as transshipping, the undocumented transfer of caught fish, though not illegal, makes it easier for criminals to operate.
Closer to shore, fish farming brings its own problems. Intensive farming and antibiotics used in feed pollute inshore waters. Much of the feed for farmed fish consists of “fish meal”, which is made of fish caught from the ocean, adding considerably to the burden already placed on global stocks. Fish farming has changed the way in which we exploit our oceans, not prevented it.
Will management of our marine resources continue to be decided by ad hoc, short term thinking? What are the gaps in national fishing policies? What constructive action can we take to reduce pollution from fishing and fish farming? How will new technology help us better maintain fish stocks? And is there a way to reduce the impact of climate change and development of the oceans and coasts?
Solutions must recognise the need to protect resources at the same time as ensuring communities that rely on the sea can continue to develop.
What is China’s role in tackling these questions? China’s fishing fleet is expanding rapidly, and the country accounts for 18% of ocean catches worldwide and over 60% of fish farming, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The country’s distant-water fishing fleet grew by nearly 2,600 vessels (the US has one tenth as many) in 2014-2016 alone. Can China find a sustainable way to provide a population of 1.3 billion people with fish?
Over the next two years China Dialogue Ocean will publish a series of articles on fisheries and the marine environment, covering the damage caused by illegal fishing, the protection of the oceans during development, restoration of inshore environments, recharging of fishery resources, loopholes and improvements in fisheries laws and policies, marine pollution, and the impact of climate change on the oceans, as well as new approaches, ideas and solutions to combat these problems. During this process we will focus on China’s role in both the development and the protection of the oceans.
Our oceans are not a mere source of food, they are an essential part of the global ecosystem upon which we all rely for our survival. The health of the oceans is our own health, and concern for the future of the oceans is concern for our own future.
Protect The Oceans
For centuries, people have assumed that our vast ocean was limitless and immune to human impacts. It’s only recently that scientists have come to understand the devastating effects we’ve already had on the seas.
The oceans are in more trouble than ever before.
Right now it is estimated that up to 12 million metric tons of plastic—everything from plastic bottles and bags to microbeads—end up in the oceans each year. That’s a truckload of trash every minute.
Traveling on ocean currents, this plastic is now turning up in every corner of our planet, from Florida beaches to uninhabited Pacific islands. It is even being found in the deepest part of the ocean and trapped in Arctic ice.
The oceans are slowly turning into a plastic soup, and the effects on ocean life are devastating. Plastic pieces of all sizes choke and clog the stomachs of creatures who mistake it for food, from tiny zooplankton to whales. Plastic is now entering every level of the ocean food chain and is even ending up in the seafood on our plates.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why we are campaigning to end the flow of single-use plastic into our oceans.
How to Protect the Oceans
We are calling on big corporations to act to reduce their plastic footprint—and stop producing plastic packaging that is designed to be used for just a few minutes before it ends up in landfills, incinerators and out polluting our environment for a lifetime.
We’re also working hard to address other serious threats facing our oceans. Unsustainable industrial fishing is destroying habitats and endangering countless species. The climate crisis and ocean acidification—both the result of our reliance on fossil fuels—are having more and more extreme impacts on ocean health. Today, overfishing and bycatch kills about 63 billion pounds of marine animals every year, and human activity is disrupting the balance of marine ecosystems across the globe. The impacts on humans are equally severe. Overfishing compromises food security and the livelihoods of fishing communities. Human trafficking and forced labor remain huge problems on many fishing fleets.
We’re also working to protect the oceans through a network of sanctuaries. Globally, less than 2 percent of the ocean is under protection. We’re campaigning to establish ocean sanctuaries in 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
These sanctuaries will preserve biodiversity, help endangered species recover, and give marine life a fighting chance to survive the rapid changes we are causing to the planet. Ocean sanctuaries can also help replenish fish populations decimated by overfishing, meaning a more dependable food supply for the billions of people who get some of their protein from seafood.
Scientists say the wave of extinction facing the ocean in the coming century could be the worst since the dinosaur age. If we don’t change the way we do things, and fast, we are on track to cause irreversible damage to the ocean and the collapse of some of the most important food sources in the world.
I will believe that China wants to save our oceans when they make shark finning illegal, and stop over fishing the oceans!
Eat more fish: when switching to seafood helps — and when it doesn’t
Survey identifies several species that are more nutritious and better for the planet than beef, pork or chicken.
Replacing meat with certain types of sustainably sourced seafood could help people to reduce their carbon footprints without compromising on nutrition, finds an analysis of dozens of marine species that are consumed worldwide.
The study, published on 8 September in Communications Earth & Environment, suggests that farmed bivalves — shellfish such as mussels, clams and oysters — and wild-caught, small, surface-dwelling (pelagic) fish, which include anchovies, mackerel and herring, generate fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and are more nutrient dense than beef, pork or chicken.
The research aimed to “do a better job of understanding the climate impacts of seafood through the lens of very diverse nutritional qualities”, says co-author Peter Tyedmers, an ecological economist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
The findings echo those of previous studies, including work by members of Tyedmers’ group that focused on seafood consumed in Sweden. This time, the researchers wanted to include a more diverse, global range of seafood, says Tyedmers.
Blue diet benefits
Food production accounts for roughly one-third of global greenhouse-gas emissions, mostly of methane and carbon dioxide. More than half of those emissions are driven by livestock farming. Plant-based diets offer one lower-impact alternative to eating meat, but solutions tend to overlook the benefits of seafood-based, or ‘blue’, diets, the study says.
Using 41 seafood species, the researchers established a nutrient-density score that accounted for essential nutrients, such as certain fats and vitamins. The species surveyed included farmed and wild-caught fish, crustaceans, bivalves and cephalopods (the group that includes octopus and squid). The team then used available emissions data for 34 of those species to compare their nutrient density with the emissions associated with their production or capture.
Half of the seafood species offered more nutritional bang for their buck in terms of emissions (see ‘Better fish to fry’). Wild-caught pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) and sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), along with wild-caught, small pelagic fish and farmed bivalves, were the best choices for nutrient-dense, low-emissions protein sources. Whitefish such as cod (Gadus sp.) also had a low climate impact, but were among the least nutrient-dense food. Wild-caught crustaceans had the highest emissions, with a carbon footprint rivalled only by that of beef. The authors note that their emissions data do not include ‘post-production’ emissions, such as those generated by refrigeration or transport.
The analysis adds more perspective to the role of seafood in food systems, says Zach Koehn, a marine scientist at the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions in California. He adds that one hurdle in applying this research will be the need to make seafood more widely available in an affordable way, because those who could benefit the most from nutrient-dense foods might not have access to it.
Tyedmers agrees that access to diverse diets is a privilege. “Every opportunity there is to substitute seafood for beef is a small climate win,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be every meal.”
What is shark finning and why is it a problem?
Conservationist Mark Carwardine discusses the issue of shark finning.
What is shark finning?
It is the gruesome practice of cutting off a live shark’s fins and throwing the rest of the animal back into the sea, where it dies a slow and painful death. The fins are used in China and Hong Kong, and by Chinese communities elsewhere in the world, as the key ingredient in shark-fin soup.
What’s shark-fin soup?
This glutinous broth is a traditional Chinese dish dating back more than 1,000 years. Once a rare delicacy consumed only by the Chinese aristocracy, it played an important role as an indicator of social standing. The fibres take on a consistency similar to noodles, but they have virtually no taste or nutritional value, so chicken stock or something similar is added to improve the flavour.
Why is it a problem?
In the past 20 years or so, the demand for shark-fin soup has rocketed. It is still associated with privilege and social rank – a bowl of soup can cost up to US$100 – but the explosive growth in the Chinese economy means that hundreds of millions of people can now afford this luxury. Many consider it de rigueur at important events such as weddings, birthdays, business banquets and during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Shark-fin soup is also popular in traditional Chinese medicine (although research suggests that it contains so much mercury and other toxins it is barely fit for human consumption). It is estimated that as many as 73 million sharks are killed for shark-fin soup every year – an indiscriminate slaughter that is pushing many species to the brink of extinction.
Why should we care?
Many people fear sharks and don’t care whether they survive or not. But, ecologically, as top predators their disappearance will disrupt entire ocean ecosystems. Economically, they are worth more alive than dead – in contrast to the short-lived profits of shark finning, shark diving has become a sustainable, multi-million pound business.
Scientifically, medical researchers want to learn how shark wounds heal so quickly and how they seem to be resistant to cancer. Spiritually, an ocean without sharks is unthinkable – like the Serengeti without lions.
Are sharks protected?
In 1999, the UN developed the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, but no country is forced to participate and progress has been slow. Beyond that, shark legislation varies greatly between states, providing anything from zero (Hong Kong) to weak to full protection (the Bahamas).
The US Shark Conservation Act 2010 requires that all sharks (except smooth dogfish) be brought ashore with their fins intact. Many people believe this is the only way to secure an enforceable ban on shark finning, while enabling the collection of species-specific management data. The EU approved similar legislation in 2013, and other countries are following suit. Trade in a number of shark species is banned or controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
What else can be done?
It is critical to reduce demand, by changing attitudes. There are encouraging signs that shark-fin soup consumption is declining and several dozen airlines and hotel chains have stopped serving it. In 2012, the Chinese Government banned it at official functions, though the motive was more for austerity than conservation.
Despite progress, shark-fin soup is still a long way from being relegated to history. Also, a new problem has arisen: fishermen are switching to shark meat and creating new appetites for a product that wasn’t popular before. In many countries trade in shark meat has grown exponentially – so finning bans alone aren’t enough to reduce the number of sharks being killed. A new approach is clearly needed.
I jave included a recipe for faux shark fin soup in the Addendum section of this chapter along with more ways to say our oceans not included in the main portion of this chapter.
What The extinction of Sharks means for the World
If the shark disappears from our oceans will be with exception of the trilobyte (which they found some living species), one of the oldest living remaining species on earth, will be gone forever. This extinction goes beyond a mere loss to our heritage. Sharks are an integral part of our ecosystem, their disappearance will have incalculable affects on the earth, with possible more extensive mass extinctions.
Before I continue discussing sharks, I want to take a brief detour, you will understand the reason for it when you read it. This is a quote from Jacques-Yves Cousteau. This is from the introduction of his landmark multi-volume work, “The Oceans of Jacques Cousteau“
“If the Oceans Should Die–that is, if life in the oceans were suddenly, somehow to become to an end–it would be the final as well as the greatest catastrophe in the troublous story of man and the other animals and plants with whom man shares the planet.
“To begin with, bereft of life the ocean would at once foul. Such a colossal stench born of decaying organic matter would rise from the ocean wasteland that it would of itself suffice to drive man back from all coastal regions. Far harsher consequences would soon follow. The ocean is earth’s principal buffer, keeping balances intact between the different salts and gases of which our lives are composed and on which they depend. With no life in the seas the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere would set forth on an inexorable climb. When this CO2 level passed a certain point the “greenhouse effect” would come into operation: heat radiating from earth to space would be trapped beneath the stratosphere, shooting up sea-level temperatures. At both North and South Poles the ice caps would melt. The oceans would rise perhaps 100 feet in a small number of years. All earth’s major cities would be inundated. To avoid drowning one-third of the world’s population would be compelled to flee to hills and mountains, hills and mountains unready to receive these people, unable to produce enough food for them. Among many other consequences of the death of the oceans, the surface would become coated with a thick film of dead organic matter, affecting the evaporation process., reducing rain, and starting global drought and famine.
“Even then the disaster would only be entering its terminal phase. Packed together on various highlands, starving, subject to bizarre storms and diseases, with families and societies totally disrupted, what is left of mankind begins to suffer from anoxia–lack of oxygen–caused by the extinction of plankton algae and the reduction of land vegetation. Pinned in the narrow belt between dead seas and sterile mountain slopes, man coughs out his last moments in unutterable agony. Maybe 30 to 50 years after the ocean has died the last man on earth takes his own last breath. Organic life on the planet is reduced to bacteria and a few scavenger insects.” Pretty powerful stuff.
Now back to sharks. As apex predators, sharks play an important role in the ecosystem by maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serving as an indicator for ocean health. They help remove the weak and the sick as well as keeping the balance with competitors helping to ensure species diversity. As predators, they shift their prey’s spatial habitat, which alters the feeding strategy and diets of other species. Through the spatial controls and abundance, sharks indirectly maintain the sea grass and corals reef habitats. The loss of sharks has led to the decline in coral reefs, sea grass beds and the loss of commercial fisheries. By taking sharks out of the coral reef ecosystem, the larger predatory fish, such as groupers, increase in abundance and feed on the herbivores. With less herbivores, macroalgae expands and coral can no longer compete, shifting the ecosystem to one of algae dominance, affecting the survival of the reef system. Oceana released a report in July 2008, “Predators as Prey: Why Healthy Oceans Need Sharks”, illustrating our need to protect sharks.
Sharks’ control over species below them in the food chain indirectly affects the economy. A study in North Carolina showed that the loss of the great sharks increased the ray populations below them. As a result, the hungry rays ate all the bay scallops, forcing the fishery to close. Without scallops to eat, the rays have moved on to other bivalves. The decline of the quahog, a key ingredient in clam chowder, is forcing many restaurants to remove this American classic from their menus. The disappearance of scallops and clams demonstrates that the elimination of sharks can cause harm to the economy in addition to ecosystems. Sharks are also influencing the economy through ecotourism. In the Bahamas, a single live reef shark is worth $250,000 as a result of dive tourism versus a one time value of $50 when caught by a fisherman. One whale shark in Belize can bring in $2 million over its lifetime.( The importance of sharks from eu.oceana.org)
gfi.org, “Climate change is threatening our oceans. Alternative seafood can help. Global efforts to curb emissions, protect marine biodiversity, and reduce the impacts of climate change on our oceans should include investments in plant-based and cultivated seafood.” By Jen Lamy; oceanservice.noaa.gov, “How can you help our ocean? Here are 10 simple things you can do at home, around town, on the water, or anywhere!”; bioregional.com, “6 actions you can take to protect our oceans: Despairing after watching Blue Planet? Don’t, says Emmelie Brownlee, we can all make a difference so let’s start today.” By Emmelie Brown; chiandialogueocean.net, “How to save our oceans? China Dialogue Ocean is launching a two-year series, exploring challenges to our global fisheries and marine environments and China’s role in tackling them.” By Zhang Chun; greenpeace.org, “Protect The Oceans: For centuries, people have assumed that our vast ocean was limitless and immune to human impacts. It’s only recently that scientists have come to understand the devastating effects we’ve already had on the seas.”; conserve-energy-future.com, “30+ Extraordinary Things You Can Do To Save The Ocean.”; discoverwildlife.com, “What is shark finning and why is it a problem? Conservationist Mark Carwardine discusses the issue of shark finning.” By Mark Carwardine; nature.com, “Eat more fish: when switching to seafood helps — and when it doesn’t: Survey identifies several species that are more nutritious and better for the planet than beef, pork or chicken.” By Jude Coleman;
30+ Extraordinary Things You Can Do To Save The Ocean
1. Reduce the use of plastic – The more plastic you use, the more plastic ends up landing in the sea. Both marine and birdlife often mistake pieces of plastic for food and often end up choking after consuming it.
2. Clean up your local beaches – Start by spending time on your beach, picking up waste that’s lying about. Neglected, light-weight debris will be blown into the sea.
3. Reduce your consumption of energy – Drastic reductions will help reduce oceans’ temperatures. Current increases in temperatures are threatening marine life and starving it with scarce levels of oxygen.
4. Reduce your consumption of fuel – Doing this helps to reduce the harmful and toxic carbon influences. High levels of fuel consumption continue to contribute towards the increase of oceanic surface temperatures.
5. Educate yourself on the ocean’s ecosystems – Immerse yourself in literature, particularly on preserving the ecosystems of the oceans. The more knowledgeable you become, the more aware you will be on how your own consumption levels affect the oceanic environment.
6. Learn to love sea life – Through education; you will grow to appreciate ocean and marine life and take a more caring and careful approach to all things oceanic. Instead of mass consumption, you will become preoccupied with sustainable alternatives.
7. Reduce your consumption of fish – If everyone did this, depleted fish stocks would be given breathing space to grow again. Steer clear away from species that have already been labeled as threatened.
8. Do not keep fish as pets – This is about taking a more vigilant stance against keeping exotic species in captivity. Also, fish tank accoutrements continue to be sourced from fragile coastal ecosystems.
9. Care for the ocean while caring for your pets – Be discerning about the food products you buy for your animals. Healthier and more appropriate alternatives for consumption are now widely available.
10. Keep your water clean – Polluted water is channeled to the sea. Harmful raw sewerage ends up in vulnerable shore-line systems. When washing up, do not allow waste to filter through your sink.
11. Always act responsibly on the beach – Always be careful where you tread in shallow water so that you don’t harm tiny living organisms difficult to spot. Be respectful of the visible flora and fauna and do not tamper with it.
12. Always act responsibly on the ocean – Boaters must take not to toss garbage and waste fuel into the ocean. Fishing nets need to be carefully prepared to avoid scooping up by-catch.
13. Talk more seriously with your neighbors – The more active you are in conversation, the more aware others will become. Discuss matters of concern with your local grocer and encourage him to only stock sustainable and ocean-friendly products.
14. Use social media to raise awareness – You can reach hundreds, if not thousands of friends to raise awareness. Write persuasively and actively re-publish new material sourced from global campaigners.
15. Always recycle – Non-recycled items, particularly plastic, end up reaching the ocean if you don’t do this. Do not be lazy and make full use of the recycling depots already located within your neighborhood.
16. Reduce your use of chemicals – Whether as cosmetics or cleaning products, the harmful chemicals included in them are extremely difficult to be removed from the Earth’s oceans.
17. Dispose of chemical waste responsibly – There are chemical waste depots near to you.
18. Become a sustainable seafood shopper – Check product labels and eliminate products that have been labeled as threatened or endangered.
19. Do not buy products that harm the ocean’s living environment – These are usually in the form of ornaments.
20. Lend your support to organizations that are helping to save the oceans – Even if you are only contributing by way of donations, you are still making a difference.
21. Become an active member of a lifesaving NGO – This entails a more proactive and effective involvement from you.
22. Learn new ways to continue reducing your carbon footprint – Drastic reductions in our collective carbon footprint will make a huge difference.
23. Campaigns against global multinationals – These companies are guilty of over-fishing and producing products that harm the oceans’ environments.
24. Support your local fishing communities – The sustainable alternative is to buy fish from small-scale fishers only.
25. Move towards sustainable jobs away from the ocean – At the same time, alternative sources of employment need to be found for poor communities who have relied on fishing as a last resort.
26. Help develop innovative sea-fishing products – There are too many fishing implements being used that capture non-targeted species.
27. Campaign towards large-scale re-zoning of oceanic ecosystems – The wider the legislative scope, the better the chances of the oceans being able to revitalize itself.
28. Consuming products on the lowest levels of oceanic food chains – These stocks are generally abundant and are not endangered or threatened.
29. Campaign to save shark species – They form an important part of the oceanic food chain and must be preserved as a matter of priority.
30. Seriously consider your restaurant choices – Check whether restaurants are preparing dishes from sustainable sources.
31. Campaign to reduce or eliminate fuel subsidies – Multinationals involved in deep sea fishing and mass exploitation of all species are the biggest beneficiaries of such subsidies.
32. Be a responsible sailor – Use cleaning and maintenance products that are less harmful to the ocean . Dispose of your trash and recyclables properly and follow discharge regulations in your area.
Faux Shark Fin Soup
This delicious and shark-friendly alternative to traditional shark fin soup is a tasty way to support ocean health. “Close your eyes,” says Chef Peter Pahk. “Taste and savor the texture and flavor of this soup. It’s even better than the ‘real’ thing because it’s not shark fin!”
It’s estimated that tens of millions of sharks are killed around the world each year for their fins, and up until 2013 California was one of the largest markets for fins outside Asia. That’s why the Monterey Bay Aquarium sponsored a bill (which took effect January 2013) that banned the sale of shark fins in California.
1 ounce Chinese black mushrooms (shitake)
8-10 pieces of dried tree ear mushrooms
2 ounces cellophane noodles
2 ounces skinless raw chicken breast
2 ounces lean raw pork
2 cups unsalted chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
Dash of sesame oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
1 egg, lightly beaten
- Soak the black mushrooms, tree ear mushrooms and cellophane noodles separately in hot water for 4 hours until they soften. Drain well.
- Remove the hard stems of the black mushrooms (you can save them to cook with other Chinese soups) and cut the remaining pieces into small strips. Chop the tree ear mushrooms into small pieces and cut the cellophane noodles into 1-inch pieces with scissors. Set aside.
- Slice the chicken breast and pork into thin strips.
- Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Add the chicken, pork, black and tree ear mushrooms, and cook until all ingredients are cooked through and softened. Add the cellophane noodles, soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper and salt to taste.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a thick slurry. Return the soup to a boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and beaten egg and mix well. Remove from heat and serve in small bowls.
So we have a substitute that many people say is better tasting than the actual shark fin soup. So lets stop the fining already. Economically speaking there is more money to be made in conservation. Every country that has banned shark fining and turned to shark watching as a revenue source are doing better financially. You can only kill a shark once, the same shark can be viewed countless times. Not to mention the benefit conservation and preservation of the shark species has to the environment.
One of the first species of shark to be protected was the Grey nurse shark
1992 Cageless shark-diving expedition – first publicized cageless dive with great white sharks which contributed to changing public opinions about the supposed “killing machine”
Shark Alliance – coalition of nongovernmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving European fishing policy
Shark Conservation Act – proposed US law to protect sharks
Shark sanctuary – Palau’s first-ever attempt to prohibit taking sharks within its territorial waters
Shark tourism – form of ecotourism showcasing sharks
Shark Trust – A UK organisation for conservation of sharks
5 Things you didn’t know sharks do for you.
1. Sharks keep the food web in check.
Many shark species are “apex predators,” meaning they reside at the top of the food web. These sharks keep populations of their prey in check, weeding out the weak and sick animals to keep the overall population healthy. Their disappearance can set off a chain reaction throughout the ocean — and even impact people on shore.
2. Sharks could hold cures for diseases.
It has puzzled researchers for years: Why don’t sharks get sick as often as other species? Shark tissue appears to have anticoagulant and antibacterial properties. Scientists are studying it in hopes of finding treatments for a number of medical conditions, including viruses and cystic fibrosis .
Copying sharks could even lead to significant global health impacts. Each year, more than 2 million hospital patients in the U.S. suffer from healthcare-acquired infections due to unsanitary conditions. Looking to shark skin’s unique antimicrobial properties, researchers were able to create an antibacterial surface-coating called Sharklet AF. This surface technology can ward off a range of infectious bacteria and help stop the proliferation of superbugs in hospitals.
3. Sharks help keep the carbon cycle in motion.
Carbon is a critical element in the cycle of life — and a contributor to climate change. By feeding on dead matter that collects on the seafloor, scavengers such as deep-sea sharks, hagfish and starfish help to move carbon through the ocean.
In addition, research has found that large marine animals such as whales and sharks sequester comparatively large amounts of carbon in their bodies. When they die naturally, they sink to the seafloor, where they are eaten by scavengers. However, when they are hunted by humans, they are removed from the ocean, disrupting the ocean’s carbon cycle.
4. Sharks inspire smart design.
People have been practicing biomimicry — imitating nature’s designs to solve human problems — for many years. However, recent advances in technology have made it possible to go even further in pursuit of efficient design. Great white sharks can swim at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, mainly because of small scales on their skin called “denticles ” that decrease drag and turbulence. Envious professional swimmers and innovative scientists mimicked the design of these denticles to develop a shark-inspired swimsuit , proven to make swimmers sleeker and less resistant in the water.
An Australian company called BioPower Systems even designed a device resembling a shark’s tail to capture wave energy from the ocean and convert it into electric power. As the world looks for clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels, this kind of technology could be one promising solution.
5. Sharks boost local economies.
Over the last several decades, public fascination with sharks has developed into a thriving ecotourism industry in places such as the Bahamas, South Africa and the Galápagos Islands.
According to a study published in 2013, shark tourism generates more than US$ 300 million a year and is predicted to more than double in the next 20 years. In Australia, shark diving tourism contributes more than US$17.7 million annually to the regional economy. These activities support local businesses (boat rental and diving companies, for example) and provide more than 10,000 jobs in 29 countries. Several studies have indicated that in these places, sharks are worth much more alive than dead. (conservation.org, article by Molly Bergen).