Mar 13

10 Easy Steps to Protect Coral Reefs

By Christine Contributor

Christine Beggs is the founder of Project Blue Hope, a site dedicated to spreading her wish for a “Future of Blue.” Currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Marine Conservation, Christine is passionate about ocean health and the preservation of coral reefs. Join the discussion about marine issues @ProjectBlueHope and www.ProjectBlueHope.com to help spread the word for more balanced oceans.

Feel overwhelmed by global climate change? Ocean acidification? Worldwide coral bleaching?

There ARE ways you can make a positive impact on this Earth and help preserve precious coral reef systems, whether you are a scientist, policy-maker or concerned citizen.

1. Learn and Educate. Read, watch and listen to everything you can about marine conservation and coral reefs and share what you learn with others. The more you learn, the more informed your actions to protect our oceans & reefs will be. At Project Blue Hope, we try to keep you as up-to-date as possible with the marine conservation, policy and science news.

2. Petition the Government. You have a voice, so use it! Contact your government representatives and call for increased protection for coral reefs via the expansion of marine protected areas. Demand the pollution of our oceans be put to an end.

3. Support “Green” Business. Businesses that are eco-friendly are also reef-friendly. Only use your money to support businesses that are dedicated to sustainable practices. A good way to find such establishments is via the National Green Pages. Also, if you own stock in a company, you can use your proxy ballot to push big businesses to “go green” and stop destructive fishing practices.

4. Volunteer on Vacation. If you don’t live near a coral reef, then go on vacation to visit one and volunteer at the local marine park. There are many organizations, such as REEF, Blue Ventures and Oceans Watch, that you travel with to volunteer your diving skills and do coral surveys and ocean clean-ups.

5. Use Only Organic/ Eco-Friendly Fertilizers. Even if you live far inland, fertilizer products still flow into the water system. Ultimately, fertilizers will run out to pollute the sea and harm coral reefs and marine life.

6. Consume Sustainable Seafood. Practice mindful eating and don’t consume overfished Bluefin Tuna, Atlantic Cod, Blue Marlin, Chilean Seabass, Farmed Salmon, Snapper or Grouper (to name a few). Seafood Watch’s pocket guides and online database are useful tools for determining whether your seafood is sustainable or not. If you are at a restaurant that serves these fish, fill out a comment card or talk with the chef to voice your opinion about their unsustainable seafood menu choices.

7. Lower Your Carbon Footprint. Help reduce pollution by walking, biking or utilizing public transportation vs. driving. Global (and ocean) warming is largely due to fossil fuel emissions from cars and industry, which leads to coral bleaching (and death). Also, planting a tree helps reverse global warming and reduce run-off into the seas.

8. Dive & Snorkel Responsibly. If you have the privilege to slip beneath the ocean’s surface, please, do not touch the reef or anchor your boat on the coral. Corals are delicate animals, despite their “rocky” appearance, and contact with the coral can damage and sometimes kill them.

9. Use Less Water. When you use water conservatively, you create less wastewater and run-off that will pollute our oceans. Also, properly dispose of your trash, as litter that ends up in the sea can harm fish & the reefs.

10. Spread the Message of “Blue Hope.” As divers, we have a close association with coral reef systems that few get to experience. The profound respect and wonder we feel for the oceans is a feeling we should all try to share. Share your excitement for coral reefs and commitment to protecting them with as many people as you can.

These ten action items are easy, yet effective when enacted collectively. Your actions and the actions of your local community can make a difference every day.

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