The Fight to Protect Our Oceans
Words by Rebecca Parsons
Without a healthy ocean, there would simply be no life on Earth. That's in large part because phytoplankton–plant-like microorganisms that live on the ocean's surface–are actually responsible for producing half of our planet's oxygen. Not to mention, the ocean is a valuable source of food, offers new forms of medicine, absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and–our personal favorite–serves as a playground for watermen. Yet, despite being an essential resource, the ocean is constantly being polluted, overfished and destroyed. Luckily for us, these five noble organizations have made it their mission to preserve and protect our magnificent oceans so that we can paddle their pristine waters for years to come. – RP
1. Oceana: In 2001, Oceana was created to fill a gap among environmental non-profit groups in the United States. Less than .5% of resources spent by these groups went towards the protection of our oceans. Oceana set out to change that by be focused entirely on oceans and making changes through scientific campaigns with set deadlines and goals. Oceana has celebrated over 100 victories since its founding that range from protecting sea turtles from fishermen to stopping bottom trawling in sensitive marine habitats.
2. Surfrider Foundation: Over 30 years ago, the Surfrider Foundation was created by a group of surfers to protect their beloved Malibu surf break. Today, Surfrider does much more than just protect local breaks. Through their network of volunteers across the country, they work to prevent plastic pollution, improve coastal water quality, maintain public beach access, and battle issues such as coastal development and beach dredging. Currently, Surfrider has over 300 success stories and has 56% of US coastlines protected. Their mission: to protect 100%. Fight on Surfrider, fight on.
3. Institute for Ocean Conservation Science: Through scientific research, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science seeks to expand the realm of knowledge for threats to the ocean and its occupants. The institute recognizes that many of the ocean's problems are interconnected and as a result, focuses its research on understudied marine organisms that play an important ecological role. They work to advance ecosystem-based fisheries management, sustainably manage forage fish, and are conducting innovative research on the impacts of commercial fishing on sharks. The institute has experienced several successes, the most noteworthy being significant policy improvements and international trade restrictions on great white sharks.
4. Save the Waves: Save the Waves partners with local communities in an effort to protect coastal ecosystems as well as strengthen the community. They focus on issues that directly impact the surf zone: coastal development, water quality and watersheds, sea level rise and coastal erosion, marine debris, reefs, and public access. They acknowledge that the surf zone is a valuable spot to surfers and paddlers, but more importantly is home to many marine organisms. In an effort to raise funds, Save the Waves puts on an awesome film festival, complete with tacos, beer, and epic surf films. It's well worth attending, as you know your money is going to a good cause.
5. The 5 Gyres Institute: Perhaps you've heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch–a mob of trash twice the size of Texas floating through the Pacific. It's disgusting and it's our fault. 5 Gyres conducts research on aquatic plastic pollution and hopes for a future in which the ocean is free of plastic. To fully understand the impacts of plastic pollution, they sail through the five subtropical gyres with a team of scientists, journalists, and sailors. Their findings are published on multimedia outlets and peer-reviewed publications. In an effort to eliminate plastic pollution, they organize cleanup efforts, while also promoting the use of new materials and better-designed products.
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