Activist and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson suggests ten things everyone can do to help care for the oceans...
1. Reduce your carbon impact
Limit the damage to coral reefs and marine life caused by ocean acidification from increased carbon dioxide emissions by reducing your carbon footprint. Use public or cleaner transport, adopt energy-saving options at home, eat locally produced organic food and cut down on meat and dairy. When you fly, offset your carbon impact by investing in the protection of seagrass beds, which are highly effective in capturing carbon. Visit oceanfdn.org
2. Get to know your seafood
To help conserve fish stocks so they can continue feeding us in the future, download a sustainable seafood guide for your country and ask your fishmonger questions. Discover which seafoods are commonly mislabelled and find out how your supermarket ranks in seafood buying. Where possible, support your local fishermen. Visit panda.org or usa.oceana.org
3. Reduce the plastic soup
Use fewer plastic products, recycle whenever possible, and say no to single-use plastics, such as plastic bottles, bags and straws, to help reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Support efforts to “ban the bead” and avoid products with microbeads in them. Check out the National Resources Defense Council’s 10 ways to reduce your plastic use and move towards a plastic-free future by taking the #OneLess pledge. Visit nrdc.org or zsl.org
4. Take care of the beach
Tidy up after yourself and others, and join a global movement to keep beaches, waterways and the ocean rubbish-free. Visit oceanconservancy.org
5. Encourage businesses to turn 'blue'
The ocean is everybody’s business so encourage your workplace/company to become more ocean friendly. Visit oceanunite.org
6. Look out for ecologically responsible products
Support efforts by fashion and beauty brands helping save the oceans, such as by making stylish and sustainable outdoor furniture, sunglasses and any other products from recycled ocean plastic.
7. Get active politically
Demand that your government prioritises the conservation of marine life nationally by protecting at least 30 per cent of the ocean as marine reserves by 2030. Request that it also does this internationally by supporting a strong new UN agreement – the Paris Agreement for the Ocean – in 2017 to protect marine life on the high seas, which makes up nearly two-thirds of our oceans. Visit highseasalliance.org
8. Learn all you can about the ocean
Join the conversation and sign up to Ocean Unite’s monthly newsletter, The Navigator, to keep your finger on the pulse. Spread the word about the importance of ocean protection and ask your local education authority to ensure that learning about the seas is part of the curriculum.
9. Be a responsible ocean-user
If, like me, you love watersports, treat the ocean with respect – never throw anything overboard and be aware of marine life in the waters around you, such as delicate corals. Also know that your choice of skin protection can have an impact on the ocean. Choose a suncream that does not contain oxybenzone, which is a UV-filtering chemical found in thousands of brands. It can be fatal to baby corals and, in high concentrations, harmful to people.
10. Support organisations that are working to protect the ocean
Help efforts by making a regular donation, or offering your time to work as a volunteer. You can even protect the seas and look cool by getting your hands on one of Ocean Unite’s special-edition T-shirts and tote bags, signed by yours truly, with proceeds going towards efforts to protect the ocean. Visit oceanunite.teemill.co.uk