June 8, 2020 marks the 18th annual World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate and honor the role of oceans on our planet! We may be physically far from the ocean here in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean we are disconnected. Our actions have both positive and negative impacts on the world’s oceans. There are many ways you can participate and celebrate World Oceans Day this year by taking action to protect these resources!

30 by 30

Experts have determined that we need to protect at least 30% of our world’s oceans by 2030. The physical and legal protection of these resources is critical if we want to save habitat and the wildlife that depends on it. Click here to learn more and sign the petition to “Protect 30 by 30!”

Reduce Single-Use Plastics

What are single-use plastics and why are they a problem?
Single-use plastics come in many forms and are typically thrown away after only one use. From grocery bags to coffee lids and food containers, we are surrounded by single-use plastics in our daily lives. This trash makes up the majority of what eventually becomes aquatic debris, polluting our waterways and oceans. And we throw a lot away. It is estimated that in 30 years plastic litter will outweigh all fish in our oceans! Plastic not only pollutes our waterways, it endangers wildlife. Over 1 million marine animals die each year from plastic debris in our oceans.

Because it is lightweight and floats, even plastic correctly disposed of can make its way out of our landfills and into lakes, rivers, and oceans. Through wind and rain, a plastic bag thrown away in Minnesota can make its way into our local streams and rivers. These plastics then flow through larger rivers, eventually reaching our oceans where it is joined by debris from coastal cities and beaches. Unfortunately, plastic waste never fully biodegrades, it simply breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics which continue to pollute our waterways indefinitely.

What can I do to save wildlife?
There are many ways you can help wildlife and aquatic environments! Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your use of single-use plastics:

  • Use reusable shopping bags and avoid plastic bags whenever possible
  • Bring your reusable water bottle with you
  • Need that morning cup o’ joe? Don’t forget your reusable to-go cup!
  • Politely decline plastic straws at cafes and restaurants
  • Buy used items and reduce the demand for plastics (and shop more affordably!)
  • Be sure to appropriately recycle all plastic items when you are finished with them
  • Show your support by signing the Reduce Single-Use pledge!

Choose Ocean-Friendly Fish and Seafood

In addition to plastic pollution, many marine animals die or are harmed each year from discarded commercial fishing nets. Fishing gear inappropriately used or dropped also damages vital ocean habitat. Experts estimate that over 640,000 tons of fishing nets and gear are discarded in our oceans every year.

In addition, unsustainable fishing practices are leading to global harm. Ninety percent of the world’s fisheries are fully or over-exploited. If we continue these harmful practices many of the ocean’s resources will be depleted and may never recover.

Do your part by choosing ocean-friendly fish and seafood whenever you can by using the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide and app. When shopping or eating out, ask if they sell sustainable seafood. If we all voice our concern and awareness of the issues we can shape the demand for sustainable practices.

Thank you for taking action to save wildlife and protect our world’s oceans! With our collective efforts we can create a future where wildlife thrives.