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Richard Branson's top tips for saving our oceans

7 June 2017By Richard Branson

Activist and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson suggests ten things everyone can do to help care for the oceans...

Pollution from land-based sources is the primary cause of coral degradation. photo: Shutterstock

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

Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year. photo: Shutterstock

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.

Individuals and businesses can make a huge impact on the health of the oceans. photo: Shutterstock

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.

It is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. photo: Shutterstock

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

If you want to do more to tackle some of the biggest threats currently facing our oceans, check out how you can get further involved in World Oceans Day 2017.