The Save Our Seas Foundation was invited by the Merlin Entertainments Group to give a talk at the Sea Life London Aquarium as part of an evening they were hosting for the PA Club – a prestigious and influential network of personal assistants to London’s executives. This provided the perfect opportunity to further emphasise the importance of marine conservation and what we as individuals can do to help.
Personally, I am enthralled with the mystery and unrivalled beauty of the marine realm and believe that future generations should also have the privilege of experiencing its natural wonders for themselves.
However, putting aside a moral sense of stewardship, there are formidable socio-economic reasons to promote marine conservation and prevent overexploitation of marine resources.
Entire communities depend on fishing to survive, both as a source of nourishment and income. Nearly 3 billion people depend on fish as a source of protein and global fisheries generate in the region of $90 billion annually.
Despite all this, more than 70% of global fisheries are harvested unsustainably. Without fish as a source of food and income there could be widespread famine and economic crises.
Fisheries have to be managed sustainably, such that catch rates do not exceed the recovery rate of the population, there is little to no bycatch and minimal environmental impact.
The oceans also regulate atmospheric temperature and shape our climate. Our own health and habitable climate depends on a stable marine ecosystem: it is our life support system.
But what can we do to help as individuals?
As far as overfishing is concerned, supply is tailored to meet demand and the power lies with the consumer, and perhaps one of the most important changes we can make as consumers with regards to marine conservation is simply knowing where the fish we eat is from.
Essentially, is it from a sustainable source? Choosing to eat from sustainable fisheries is actually incredibly simple to do, and the easiest way in the UK is to look out for the Marine Stewardship Council logo on fish products. This logo shows that the fishery from which that particular product came has been certified as sustainable. MSC certified products are widely available in all major supermarkets, so there’s no need to even change your shopping habits. FishWatch offers a similar service in the US.
Simply buying fish with this blue logo over standard products will help dramatically.
Additionally, all of the usual tips for conserving energy to minimise carbon emissions and pollutants will help here too: the more you can reduce the use of electricity, water, plastic bags etc. the better. Every little helps. For more information on how small changes to your everyday life can help make a big difference check out our eco-friendly tips to save the planet.
One of the most important things you can do is just talk about it, many people simply don’t know where their fish if from or even why that might be important.
All it takes is an understanding to nurture a love and appreciation for the marine environment, and with each of us making small and simply lifestyle changes, we can and will make a difference.