Love Our Oceans? Then Love Them Responsibly

We Aussies love our beaches, and boating, fishing and surfing are favourite national past-times. Add in the thousands of tourists who flock to our shores to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and some of the best diving and snorkelling to be found anywhere. That’s a lot of people enjoying our waters and a lot of room for positive impact if everyone just makes small behaviour changes.

Here are just a few small things you can do that can make a big difference:

Fish responsibly

Fish stocks around the world are declining and it’s not just commercial fisheries having an impact. With an estimated 3.5 million recreational fishermen and women dropping their lines and nets in Australia every year, we’re all contributing to this decline. So, try to fish more responsibly, do things like taking only what you really need; trying to find more targeted ways of fishing to reduce catching species you don’t necessarily want. Note that many of the fish that are caught get thrown back, and then end up dying from the stress or injuries from the capture.

Boat responsibly

Slow down. After all, you’re out there on the water to enjoy our beautiful marine environment. Your chances of encountering some amazing marine wildlife increase dramatically the slower you cruise. The slower pace also provides you with the chance to enjoy the encounter and lessens risk of the animals being injured. A large number of sea turtles, dugongs and other marine animals die from boat strikes. Remember that you’re cruising through their home, slow down and enjoy the view. This applies to Jet-skis as well – maybe consider taking them to a dam/lake instead of the ocean where you won’t encounter turtles or marine mammals that need to come to the surface to breathe.

Be Responsible about Your Rubbish

One of the biggest problems facing our oceans these days is rubbish. All the plastic ever created by people is still on our planet today and most of it is floating around the oceans, where it leaches chemicals into the environment or ends up being eaten and consequently killing marine animals. Recycling is good, re-using is great but most importantly we need to REDUCE the amount of plastics we use in the first place.

Straws are a good example. Do you really need it to drink out of the glass? Or those plastic bags in the grocery section of the supermarket… Get a re-usable water bottle and a “Keep Cup” to take to the coffee shop instead of throwing out a new take away coffee cup with plastic lid every day.

I know we would all love to enjoy our oceans and marine life for many years to come, so let’s make sure that “our land (and sea) abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare” – for our children and grandchildren as well.

Words and images courtesy of Ina Ansmann (PHD Marine Biology), Travel Consultant, Flight Centre Fairfield Gardens.