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The ocean is an integral part of our environment; it provides several benefits to humans and other species. Our oceans produce more than half of all oxygen and take in 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. The ocean regulates the climate and weather patterns.
As we all know, the entire world is facing a massive environmental crisis, and our oceans are also part of it. Approximately 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean annually; other kinds of waste like industrial waste are also dumped into the ocean. Over one-third of marine mammals, sharks, their relatives, and coral reefs are threatened with extinction. The ocean is dying, and we are responsible.
We may not realize it, but we depend on the ocean for our future. Even during this environmental crisis, the ocean continues to give us several benefits. How humans have given back to the oceans?
Several individuals, organizations, NGOs, institutions, and more care about the oceans and have dedicated their time and efforts to help save the ocean. Several programs and conservation initiatives are in play to save the ocean. And we, too, can be a part of it.
Here are a few ways humans are giving back to the oceans:
1. Rigs to Reefs Program: When platforms first started appearing near the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen were surprised by the number of fish they caught near these platforms. The research found that the platforms acted as artificial reefs that attracted large fish populations. In 1986, the National Marine Fisheries Service devised a plan to create artificial reefs.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement later adopted a rig-to-reef program that protected these platforms to support and enhance fish populations. This program provides several benefits by enriching fish populations, enhancing commercial fishing, saving money, and reusing old platforms.
2. The Seabin Project: The Seabin project is one of a kind! Why not have bins in the ocean when you can have rubbish bins on land? The project was launched with the target of reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean through the installations of ‘Seabins’. Eco-friendly technologies like the Seabin will likely play an important and influential role in the long-term protection of our planet.
A seabin involves using a water pump that sucks all the dirty and polluted water, trapping all kinds of dirt and particles inside a catch bag. The clean water is then pumped back into the ocean. The water with waste is sent to a waste management facility or a recycling center. So far, around 860 seabins are installed around the globe and have trapped nearly 3 million kgs of debris from the ocean.
3. Saving Ocean Wildlife: The Saving Ocean Wildlife is a project and a non-profit organization launched to protect marine creatures that live in and travel across the Pacific water off America’s west coast. This project provides the public tools to contribute to conservation and protection efforts. The public can also report news and monitor animals spotted in the area. The NGO partners with experts and policymakers to support marine creatures in distress and contribute to the ocean’s health and its creatures.
A significant part of this project is to connect communities with the ocean through various community engagement and education programs. These programs enable a much more collaborative approach to ocean conservation.
4. Ocean Clean-Up project: The Ocean Clean-up is a non-profit organization developing various technologies to reduce and eliminate the plastic in the oceans. To accomplish this goal, the organization aims to work on closing the source of plastics entering the oceans and cleaning up the waste that has already accumulated in the oceans. Once this goal is achieved, the Ocean Clean-up project will also end.
The organization is developing a cleanup technology to help clean the floating plastics in the Great Pacific Patch. It is also working to develop solutions to intercept plastic in rivers before it enters the ocean.
5. Safety Net: A safety net in fishing is a net that allows certain fish to escape through lighted rings, which offers more catch selectivity. As we all know, bycatch results in overfishing that reduces the populations of several species that may be vulnerable. On a larger scale, bycatch disrupts food chains and destroys ecosystems.
The safety net contains an escape route at the bottom of the net that enables the unwanted fishes or species to escape through this gap. The net is designed to let both young and threatened species escape. Small LED rings at the bottom of the net flash like exit signs; fish can easily swim through the rings.