How to Support Marine Conservation in Your Everyday Life
About 71 per cent of Earth’s surface is covered by water, with approximately 97 per cent of this water found in the oceans. Known as the Water Planet or Blue Planet, our oceans face various threats because of its large surface—pollution from oil spills, sewage, and land waste, especially plastics; climate change, which is making the ocean habitat more acidic and unliveable for certain marine species like corals and plankton; as well as over-fishing and illegal commercial whaling, which threatens the food security and the ocean eco-system.
These threats are all caused by human activity over the centuries, especially in the last few decades, and the oceans are fast deteriorating. While awareness of marine conservation has increased in recent years, there is still much work to be done and only time will tell how long the ocean will take to recover.
The United Nations officially recognised June 8 as World Oceans Day in 2008, driven by the motto “together we can” to unite the world in the protection and restoration of oceans. Its focus in 2020 is to “grow the global movement calling on world leaders to protect 30 per cent of our blue planet by 2030”, and it’s up to everyone around the globe to do their part. It doesn’t take a lot—here’s how you can contribute with little actions in your everyday life.
1/5 Reduce, reuse, recycle
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year”, with at least eight million tons of plastic ending up in our oceans. That makes up 80 per cent of marine debris.
A small change to our lifestyle that will have a big impact is to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. Reducing single-use plastics such as straws, cups, plastic bottles, shopping bags and opting for eco-friendly options helps to decrease the amount of waste generated. While recycling is highly encouraged, not all plastics are recyclable. In fact, in December 2018, Great Britain's Royal Statistical Society found that only about nine per cent of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled, with vast majority accumulating in landfills. So before you drop them in the recycling bin, check if they are recyclable and rinse them out—plastic contaminated with food and liquids can’t be used.
2/5 Support brands that give back
We all love to shop, and there’s a way to contribute to marine conservation while indulging in retail therapy—by supporting brands with initiatives that protect the ocean.
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Rolex is one of the most prominent brands spearheading the conservation of nature with its Perpetual Planet initiative. Part of the campaign includes a partnership with oceanographer Sylvia Earle in her Mission Blue project, which strives to safeguard the oceans through a network of marine protected “Hope Spots”. Earle and marine photographer David Doubilet, who are Rolex testimonees, visited Singapore last year to share about environmental protection.
Blancpain is another watch brand at the forefront of marine conservation with its Ocean Commitment, which supports scientific expeditions and oceanographic projects to raise awareness through ocean exploration.
In fashion, Stella McCartney is a longtime champion in environmental protection through its materials and innovations as well as partnerships and collaborators. Synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, are created from recycled sources like industrial plastic, waste fabric, fishing nets from the oceans, and water bottles.
With kelp being the main ingredient in La Mer’s famous Miracle Broth, it makes sense that the coveted beauty brand is committed to ocean protection. La Mer’s Blue Heart initiative promotes ocean conservation efforts around the world through its Oceans Fund, which supported the planting of 30,000 mangroves in the Caribbean last year. This year, the brand is focused on educating future generations and empowering them for change.
3/5 Eat sustainably
We may have an abundance of seafood from various regions, but consider getting your fish from local and/or sustainable fisheries to reduce your environmental impact. As mentioned above, over-fishing is a problem plaguing the oceans. Not only does it disrupt the habitat and its ecosystem, but commercial fishing can also accidentally catch and injure other species and cause pollution from discarded nets, traps and fishing lines.
Sustainable fishing ensures that there are enough fish in the ocean to thrive, with minimal impact on the species and habitats in the ecosystem. Opting for local further reduces the fuel used to transport fishes to you, and ensures their quality and freshness. Some homegrown fish farms include The Fish Farmer, which farms its fish in caged nets along sheltered waterways so that fishes are given ample space and time to grow in the ocean environment; Ah Hua Kelong, one of the few remaining traditional floating farms; and Nippon Koi Farm, which not only breeds prized hobby fishes, but also seafood for consumption like tilapia, silver perch, and prawns.
(Related: Rolex Perpetual Planet Campaign Inspires Marine Ecologist Neo Mei Lin To Do More For Planet Earth)
4/5 Travel consciously
The tourism industry does not have a good reputation in environmental conservation, but travel brands have been stepping up to be more conscious about Earth and its sustainability. Luxury safari company &Beyond’s partnership with Africa Foundation, Oceans Without Borders strives to promote a positive change across its marine footprint through facilitating marine research, the care of the ocean, wildlife and people, as well as spread awareness globally.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is also committed to sustainability across its properties. At Four Seasons Resorts Maldives, the organisation’s team of Marine Savers—full-time marine biologists—undertake projects for the conservation and protection of sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, fishes and corals. Four Seasons Resort Seychelles employs Marine Educators from WiseOceans to educate guests about the ocean and conduct research on the health of coral reefs.
5/5 Donate to support marine conservation
If you would like to contribute monetarily to organisations that are spearheading marine conservation and saving the oceans, consider donating to The Ocean Foundation, which is the fiscal sponsor for World Oceans Day. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also takes in donations to support its projects for coral reefs, rainforests, ice caps and more.
Locally, the Garden City Fund by National Parks Boards accepts donations to further its conservation programmes for marine turtles, coral reefs, other native species, and well as in outreach and education.