Small actions in our daily lives affect the health of the oceans that we love. Whether you live on the coast, on a river that runs out to sea or even in one of the many landlocked parts of Canada, we all depend on oceans for our survival and can help protect them by taking small but important actions every day.
Here are seven things you can do to protect the oceans you love.
Share these with your network — the more people who take these small actions every day, the more impact we will have.
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Choosing ocean-friendly seafood is an easy and effective way to help protect the oceans. Vote with your wallet to send the message to government and business leaders that you support responsible stewardship of our oceans. Take the pledge to eat sustainable seafood. Remember that eating vegetarian also reduces the stress on fish stocks.
Wondering where to start? We've got two delicious recipes for pink salmon. Pink salmon is predicted to have a large and healthy run in B.C. this year. It's a mild-flavoured fish and a sustainable alternative to open net-pen farmed salmon. Learn more about the dangers of open net-pen farmed salmon on our blog.
Carefully dispose of your cigarette butts
Cigarette butts make up the most (by far!) beach litter in Canada. Even butts discarded on sidewalks and streets end up in storm drains where they are carried out to rivers and oceans.
These filters contain harmful chemicals that leach into the water and contaminate and kill fish. Sea life, such as young sea otters and seabirds, also mistake the butts for food. But they can't properly digest them, so they can die as the butts accumulate in their stomachs. Cigarette butts are composed of cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable plastic, which can take 15 years or more to decompose.
If you smoke, make sure to take along a small container to hold your cigarette butt until you can dispose of it properly. Or better yet, quit smoking to protect your own health as well as the health of your environment.Reduce, reuse, recycle; especially plastic waste
The four most common types of trash on our beaches are cigarette butts, food wrappers, beverage bottles and plastic bags (graphic).
Plastics are now so common in the ocean that they form vast "garbage patches". Plastic waste doesn't biodegrade and is mistaken for food by many sea creatures. It can accumulate in their bodies and eventually kill them.
Even if you don't litter, a lot of plastic from landfills still finds its way to the beaches and oceans. So, the best way to reduce plastics in the ocean is to reduce our overall use of plastic — using reusable water bottles and shopping bags is a way to protect our oceans.Reduce your carbon footprint
Climate change and increased levels of carbon dioxide are having profound negative effects on the ocean. The change in ocean temperature, acidification (from absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide) and melting sea ice all disrupt marine ecosystems, leading to harmful algae blooms, decreased fish stocks and the death of important organisms like coral and shellfish.
So, everything you do to reduce your carbon footprint and the impacts of climate change also helps the ocean. Ride your bike, walk or take the bus. Eat local organic food. Use energy-efficient appliances and lighting. Reduce home heating and air conditioning. Read more ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint on our action page.
Keep toxins out of our oceans by keeping them out of your house
Even a tiny amount of some toxic chemicals can have a huge impact on ocean health: household cleaners often contain volatile organic compounds that can lead to harmful algae blooms; chlorine bleach is highly toxic to fish; motor oil contains heavy metals that can end up in the fish we eat.
Keep our oceans safe. Never pour bleach, motor oil or other chemicals down the drain or into sewers. Find out about the safe chemical disposal programs in your area.
For household cleaners, choose effective green alternatives. For example, vinegar disinfects and is a great non-toxic alternative to bleach. Our Queen of Green has more great tips for non-toxic cleaners and beauty products on her blog.Make a connection and share it
Spending time outside near or in the ocean will keep you healthy, happy and inspired to protect it. Sharing the experience with a friend and talking about the importance of healthy oceans will help spread the love.
More and more, social science research shows that people are most receptive to changing their behaviour if they hear from people they know and trust. Sharing an experience, leading by example and making personal connections will bring the message of ocean conservation to new audiences in a meaningful way.Enjoy the ocean, minimize your impact
There are so many activities you can do to enjoy the ocean — surfing, swimming, scuba diving, beachcombing, sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, powerboating. Enjoying the ocean is important, but activities need to be done responsibly to minimize your impact. Make sure to look up guidelines to doing your favourite sport responsibly.
To keep the ocean safe while enjoying its beauty, always "be whale wise". If you're fishing, be sure you're fishing in season and with a permit — call to report illegal fishing or habitat destruction: Report all poachers and polluters (RAPP) — 1-877-952-7277. And, of course, never feed or try to pet wild ocean creatures.Bonus: Organize your efforts with other ocean champions
Your small individual actions add up to make a difference. By coordinating with others who are taking action we can be more effective and efficient as well as learn from each other and inspire each other to greater action.
"Ocean Keepers" used with permission