South Africa’s oceans are a source of tourism, wonder and perhaps most importantly a source of food. World Fisheries Day is celebrated across the globe by fishing communities to highlight the importance of water and marine life. A recent study by the UN FAO found that in 2013 a total of 31.4% of global fisheries were overfished, 58.1% were fully fished and only 10.5% remain under fished. This World Fisheries Day, we have a look at ways in which we can do our part to keep our seas healthy and happy.
1. Reduce your plastic usage
One of the easiest ways to help keep our oceans healthy is to reduce the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis. Plastic debris that ends up in the ocean kills thousands of marine animals every year and contributes significantly to the destruction of their habitats. Instead of buying plastic bags with every shop, invest in reusable hessian shopping bags to reduce the amount of waste you produce. Store food in reusable containers and use a safe-to-reuse water bottle over buying bottled water. When you do use plastic, be sure to recycle it to reduce the potential of it finding its way into our seas.
2. Look after our beaches
In South Africa we are blessed with stunning, long stretches of beach that are free for us to enjoy. Whether you’re picnicking on the beach with family, working on your tan or taking to the waves, be sure to always clean up after yourself when heading home. Any litter that is left behind is very likely to find its way into the ocean. Many communities also host local beach clean-ups which you can get involved in if you are committed to keeping our beaches spotless.
3. Only eat sustainable seafood
A major threat facing the survival of fish populations is the unsustainable fishing that is practiced across the globe. Due to the high demand of certain species, these populations are rapidly depleting. WWF-SA’s SASSI programme has a list of red, orange and green species, representing those fish that are ‘responsible’ to eat and those whose populations are currently under threat from over-exploitation. Follow these lists when shopping and eating out and eat only seafood that is classified as sustainable. To find out if the seafood you plan to buy is sustainable, simply SMS the name of the fish to the SASSI FishMS number 079 499 8795 and you will receive a response with a few seconds telling you to ‘tuck in’ or ‘think twice’ or ‘avoid’.
4. Avoid products that harm our seas
Seaside towns will often sell shells or coral jewellery to passers-by. While these trinkets may be beautiful, products like these can have a hugely negative impact on the populations of marine life and the fragile coral reefs that they call home. Many fish rely on these coral reefs to survive, so avoid purchasing these products.
5. Support organisations protecting the ocean
There are many organisations in South Africa that are working hard to protect marine life and their habitats as well as educate others about the importance of looking after our oceans. Some of our beneficiaries doing just that include SANCCOB and SAMREC who work to protect and rehabilitate vulnerable seabirds, and the Two Ocean Aquarium which runs educational programmes about marine life. Consider showing your support either by volunteering hands-on or by donating.
You can also support these organisations by signing up for a MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card and a percentage of your purchase value will be given back to your chosen school or charity every time you swipe at one of our partner stores.