Our oceans are vast, but are not immune to human influence. We have already altered or destroyed marine ecosystems and driven species into the brink of extinction. As part of our mission to protect our oceans, we have adopted the following initiatives that we believe will help bring communities together, educate them, and promote sustainable practices.
The oceans are overfished. Our consumption is not sustainable. Species collapse is happening in oceans around the world. We can create a true shift to sustainable seafood and still eat the things we love — it doesn’t require giving up all seafood. We just have to make the right choices at the grocery store and at restaurants.
- 90% of the ocean’s big fish are gone because of overfishing, and the remaining 10% could be gone in as little as forty years.
- The world’s seafood consumption rate has been growing twice as fast (3.6%/year) as the population (1.8%/year) since 1961.
- The average size of the remaining top predators is 1/5 to 1/2 what it used to be.
- About 20 million metric tons of fish caught each year are bycatch — animals that fishermen were not trying to catch — and are simply thrown back into the water, often dead.
- 20 of the 30 largest cities in the world are coastal.
- The ocean is the number one source of protein for more than one billion people on our planet.
- In fact, 75% of all fish stocks are either fully over-exploited or depleted.
- Destructive fishing practices, like bottom trawling, not only waste fish; they damage valuable coral reefs and seamounts that can take decades or centuries to recover.
Why is this important?
Our current consumption rate is causing fish populations to crash. It also hurts the marine ecosystems that provide us many other things, from oxygen to jobs and recreation. Eating more sustainably harvested seafood is critical for fishermen, consumers, fish, and a future that has any seafood at all. By raising awareness of an issue too many people do not know about, we will inspire people to eat sustainable seafood.
There are tons and tons of plastic in the ocean. It breaks down into smaller pieces, but never goes away. Marine animals eat it and become sick or die. Unknown numbers of animals die this way each year, and the toxins are beginning to make their way into our food stream.
- Americans use 102 billion plastic bags every year.
- It’s estimated that 60-80% of all marine debris is plastic.
- Ocean currents called gyres have gathered plastic in the ocean into massive floating garbage patches thousands of miles out to sea.
- Up to 100,000 animals die each year from eating or becoming entangled in plastic in the ocean.
- China, Bangladesh, Italy, and Ireland have already banned or restricted plastic bag use. Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Mexico City, and Mumbai, as well as 200 communities in the U.S. — including Laguna Beach — have done the same.
- Some plastics release toxins when they degrade in the ocean: bisphenol A is implicated in disrupting hormonal systems of animals, styrene monomers cause cancer, and styrene dimers and trimers are suspected of being carcinogens.
- In the first year China implemented plastic bag restrictions, it cut plastic bag use by 2/3, eliminating 40 billion bags, which saved the energy equivalent of 11.7 million barrels of oil.
- In a single recycling plant in Oregon, 30,000 plastic bags jam the machinery and have to be hand-removed every day.
Why is this important?
The plastic is entering our food stream through the sea life we eat. The breaking down of plastic into toxins that are then ingested by fish and other ocean species sends toxins up the food chain, impacting your dinner plate. The first step is awareness through bringing attention to plastic pollution via community outreach. Second, we will encourage people to reduce the amount of plastic they use, by using cloth bags when they shop, and limiting the use of things like straws, utensils, water bottles, to-go cup lids, and disposable packaging. Third, we will provide tools for people to use in their community to create public awareness of plastic waste.
In addition to market-driven solutions, we need legal protections to protect vulnerable ocean habitats. Less than 2% of the ocean is protected, compared with 12% of our land resources, yet the ocean makes up 71% of the planet.
- 64% of the ocean lies beyond the jurisdiction of any nation, and there are no fully protected reserves in these waters, yet they contain ecosystems where an amazing array of sea life mate, spawn, and live. These are especially vulnerable to overfishing and habitat destruction, and need legal protections.
- Studies of 124 marine reserves in 29 nations around the world showed fishes, invertebrates, and seaweeds in the reserves increased in biomass by 446%. They increased in density by 166%. Body size of animals increased 28%. Number of species increased 21%. Heavily fished species often showed the most dramatic increases, some increasing in mass or density by 1000%.
- A five-year study on the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of marine protected areas (MPA) worldwide concluded in 2010 that marine protected areas benefit biodiversity and people. The study at more than 70 sites in 23 tropical countries found marine-managed areas improve food security, community empowerment and engagement, environmental awareness, and human health. They also reduced user conflicts and provided greater recognition of traditional user rights.
- Protected areas are economic engines. Marine tourism provides livelihoods and spurs economic development, particularly in emerging economies. In the Caribbean, reef diving produces US $2.1 billion in annual revenues, and tourism accounts for 43% of the regional gross domestic product. Coral reef-based tourism is worth US $9.6 billion in global annual net benefits.
Why is this important?
Since we depend on the ocean for oxygen, food, jobs, and recreation, ocean protected areas impact you personally by ensuring your ocean is healthier. Numerous marine areas have shown significant rebounds in species diversity and population levels within five to ten years after gaining protections, actually boosting things like fishing and ecotourism. The preservation of critical marine habitats ensures that you have all the benefits the ocean provides. We will provide film footage and photos of existing and potential marine reserves for our partner organizations to use. We will encourage people to learn more about marine protected areas and visit them whenever possible.