It seems like there’s a day for everything lately:
National Paperclip Day, National Tooth Fairy Day, National Pickle Day, and yes, even National Create a Vacuum Day.
Of the thousands of recognized “day” celebrations out there, the one we get most excited about is World Oceans Day. This year on June 8th we all get a chance to collaborate on ways to appreciate and protect our planet’s precious marine resources. It’s also a good opportunity to remind ourselves that instead of celebrating the oceans one day a year, we should make an effort to do so all the time. Marine ecosystems provide us with an incredible number of critical services and resources, many of which we take for granted. In all of our busy lives, it’s easy to forget that no matter where on Earth we live, every drop of water we drink, each breath we take and bite of food we consume, connects us to sea.
The ocean gives us life.
Without it, there would be none. Literally. The ocean is responsible for producing half of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Every other breath we take is made possible because of the sea. Or more accurately, the variety of photosynthetic organisms that inhabit saltwater ecosystems gives us breathable air.
The ocean regulates our climate.
It’s what we call a “carbon sink”, or an ecosystem that holds more carbon than it releases. Blue carbon habitats such as kelp forests, mangroves, and seagrass beds absorb a third of global carbon emissions, equating to about 22 million tons daily.
The sea feeds us.
Each year, the global seafood catch is around 170 billion pounds. That’s the same weight as the entire human population of China. Twenty-five percent of our global population depends on seafood for protein and we extract $21 trillion worth of food from the sea annually (Four Fish, 2010, by Paul Greenberg).
It gives us jobs.
In 2014, the ocean economy contributed $352 billion to the U.S. GDP and supported 3.1 million jobs. One in six US jobs is marine-related. Fisheries and aquaculture assure the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population; that’s hundreds of millions of people.
We enjoy it.
The ocean provides us with countless opportunities for tourism and recreation including boating, surfing, swimming, scuba diving, and beach-associated activities. Three hundred fifty million people travel annually to the coral reef coasts of the world. In addition to being quite enjoyable, science shows that being near, in, on, or under water makes us happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what we do.
A healthy ocean is not optional.
It’s critical for us to address the ailments that currently afflict our seas and devise ways to minimize our impact on the natural world through changes in our lifestyles. World Oceans Day is a great way to draw attention to those threats while also providing solutions that can be implemented to various degrees by each one of us.
"While it can be overwhelming to come to terms with the fact that our harmful habits are entirely responsible for the destruction of the natural world, it is also empowering because it is entirely up to us to fix it."
In contemplating how best to go about making a difference, we must first realize that our collective consumption is what drives all of these issues in the first place. While it can be overwhelming to come to terms with the fact that our harmful habits are entirely responsible for the destruction of the natural world, it is also empowering because it is entirely up to us to fix it. Becoming educated about the problems and using that information to make informed choices is the way forward. It is up to each one of us regardless of career, culture, or country, to work both individually and collectively towards a better, more sustainable future by taking responsibility for our lifestyles.
Luckily, there are lots of things we can do to give the ocean a break.
Reduce your use of disposable plastics
For starters, we can quit putting things in it that don’t belong there. About eight million tons of plastic wind up in our oceans annually and it is estimated that if we stay on our current trajectory there will be a larger volume of plastic than fish in the ocean by mid-century. In the U.S. alone, we throw away 500 million plastic straws every day. Many single-use plastics are completely avoidable and unnecessary, we just need to decide to make the switch. Get a reusable water bottle and coffee mug, say no to plastic bags, and opt for your own straw and utensils in place of the disposable ones, and recycle your garbage properly.
Participate in a beach clean-up
Beach clean-ups are a good way to prevent trash from winding up in our oceans and lakes. While it doesn’t solve the problem of the garbage being there in the first place, it’s an opportunity to become a more active member of your community and to take pride in restoring the natural beauty of a public space.
Make smarter seafood choices
You don’t have to wake up one morning and swear off eating anything from the sea, but actively choosing sustainable options can be a huge step in the right direction. Knowing exactly what you’re eating, where your seafood comes from, and how it was caught, are pieces of information that allow you to make decisions that are good for you and the environment. Consult a guide like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch when buying your seafood.
Eating plant-based seafood is another great way to reduce your impact on marine environments. Ahimi is the world’s first plant-based alternative to raw tuna. Made from tomatoes and a few simple ingredients, the savory, meaty taste of Ahimi perfectly mimics the flavor profile and texture of raw Ahi, so you can give back to the sea without having to give anything up.
Right up there with climate change and plastic pollution, overfishing is destroying our oceans. Worldwide, about 90% of our large predatory fish stocks, tuna included, are already gone. Not only is this a problem for social, economic, and dietary reasons, but the loss of these apex species spells the end for entire marine food chains and ecosystems (The End of the Line, 2006, by Charles Clover). By reducing our consumption of tuna, we can take some of the pressure off wild populations and give these critically important fish a chance to rebound. If you love tuna and want it to still be around in a few decades, eat Ahimi.
To find Ahimi near you, visit our store locator.
By ADOPTING just a few of these habits, we can start protecting the ocean as if our lives depend on it. Because they do.