Have you ever thought ‘save the planet’ seems like the biggest task you will ever be given? It’s between that and handling the back-to-school period with 3 kids. We think they’re a close tie. The main difference, one comes with instructions: get uniform, check shoes still fit, make sure holiday homework is complete. The other; do your part. It’s somewhat ominous ‘how’ to save the planet. Some say plant trees, others say clean beaches. The reality is, there are hundreds of ways to do your bit to help save the planet – many you can find in our blog. However, there’s one area that often gets overlooked. Protect our oceans.
Why we should protect our oceans
When you think about saving the ocean, the logical reason is so we can protect fish. We don’t want fish to die, but it’s more than that. It’s the supply chain that the fish provide. 1 in 6 people throughout the world depends on fish as their source of protein. Meaning demand for fish supplies has doubled in the last 50 years. We’re eating more fish than ever, but sadly, their habitat is under threat.
Yes, you guessed it, plastic. From plastic fishing nets trapping and killing larger fish to smaller creatures eating bits of microplastic. Potentially the ocean’s biggest threat is plastic. Why is this an issue? Well aside from completely upsetting the PH balance of the ocean, 1 in 3 of the fish caught for human consumption will now contain plastic. What’s more, we won’t even know about it because the microplastic pieces are so small. Dinner is served!
Protect our oceans to protect our land
Protecting our oceans will inevitably help protect marine life. But the knock-on effect is far greater than less plastic on our dinner plates. A quick dive into evolution shows us that the birth of carbon dioxide breathing marine life has helped to create the atmosphere we all breathe today. But these animals didn’t adapt from the land, they originated in the depths of the ocean. Primary producers such as algae and phytoplankton produce between 50-70% of the Earth’s oxygen that allows us, and land animals, to live.
It is these tiny organisms, that most of us will rarely hear about, that allow us to survive on land. Before their help (almost 600 million years ago) the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere was less than 5%, it’s now 21%. Helping to create life as we know it. When phytoplankton and algae habitats are harmed, they produce less oxygen. This decrease inevitably harms the quality of the air we breathe. Alongside our pollution on land from burning fossil fuels, you can see it’s very problematic.
What is directly harming our oceans?
Believe it or not, there aren’t many things harming our oceans. Water companies face huge implications for putting back contaminated water so it is filtered to ensure it’s clean for our oceans. There are millions of beach litter picks occurring throughout the country. One large area that isn’t controlled comes from boats and fishing vessels.
Some of the nation’s recycling is collected to be disposed of overseas where there are suitable recycling facilities. Unfortunately, not all the rubbish is secure on these vessels and items fly away. If a large storms hits pieces are bound to go overboard.
Fishing items are quite problematic, especially nets. You may have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s twice the size of the state of Texas, and 20% of it is fishing nets. That’s nearly the size of the UK. These nets aren’t discarded over the side of small boats. Rather they’re cast and then get lost, or snap under the pressure of currents and are lost to the sea. It’s why sustainable fishing is so important.
Another is chemicals. While water companies protect our oceans, oil rigs cannot claim to be as innocent. Drilling into the sea bed does not always have huge implications for the surrounding marine life, but when spills happen they’re catastrophic. Wildlife still feels the impact of the oil spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010.
It’s clear that to help save our planet, we must protect our oceans. They provide much of what we need for living a healthy life on land. No matter how many trees we plant, how many vegetables we eat, we cannot beat climate change without clearing up the ocean. Although many of the culprits causing these issues are not individuals in homes, there are things we can do to clear up our oceans. Stay tuned for our next water blog that discusses how we can make a difference and protect our oceans.