Can you recall the last time you had a cool dip in the ocean? If it was along one of Cape Town’s many beaches it will no doubt send an exhilirating shiver down your spine. Durban’s Golden Mile be a more calm Indian Ocean memory of languid bobbing.
Yet, if you’ve not yet had a dip in the ocean, the reality that less than 0.4% of South Africa's ocean regions are protected - might come as even more of a shock than a 4th Beach brain-freeze. The global average is 11%.
According to a new #OnlyThisMuch campaign, "Global scientific wisdom is showing that we need to effectively protect at least 30% of our oceans to enable and support long term sustainable use.
READ MORE: Tsitsikamma MPA re-opening: SA’s fish stocks at risk say experts
The Only This Much has set a goal of achieving 5% protection of South Africa’s oceans within Marine Protected Areas (MPA) by 2019, and then 10% by 2020.
“Funded by Oceans 5 in partnership with Ocean Unite, WWF South Africa, The Green Connection, Centre for Environmental Rights and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Saambr), this coalition hope to gain strategic wins for marine conservation in African waters that will catalyse action across the region,” says Dr Jean Harris Wildoceanssa.
"We hope to lead the way to a regional movement for increased protection across all African national waters and Africa’s Southern Ocean territories, while paving the way to African states supporting a global target of 30% strongly protected by 2030."
So on World Ocean Day, 8 June - the importance and economic sustainability of our oceans are in the spotlight - making us more mindful of this precious resource, home to billions of species essential to the overall well-being of the planet.
Here’s a few of the key initiatives and simple tips to make part of your daily life to help make a difference:
Say no to single-use plastic movement
If you’ve ever done a beach clean-up then you will know that plastic waste, cigarette butts and straws are rapidly killing our marine life.
Plastic straws and earbud sticks are possibly the most prolific concern when it comes to the well-being of ocean life and the healthy state of our oceans. A small way to alleviate this is to say no to straws - which is catching on fast across the hospitality industry in South Africa.
READ MORE: Restaurants around SA that say NO to plastic straws and where to find them
The Departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has said together with the Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as the DTI agencies, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), they will be looking to review the implementation and impact of our country’s plastic bag policies.
“Plastic pollution is particularly insidious because once plastics enter into the environment, they do not biodegrade, but simply break down into smaller pieces over time,” says Minister Edna Molewa.
“This has a detrimental effect on our environment, more so once this pollution enters our oceans and endangers marine life and fragile marine ecosystems,” adds Minister Molewa.
The South African government remains committed to implementing the recommendations of the plastic material flow study.
Unique fishing line bins highlight marine pollution
The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) is officially launched the Fishing Line Recovery and Recycling Program along the Gansbaai shoreline in 2010. This innovative project of strategically placed unique fishing line bins aims to reduce the severe environmental damage caused by discarded fishing line on our coastline.
Collected probably over 5000 kms of fishing line
“Our marine animal rescue team has seen some of the worst injuries on seabirds, seals and sharks caused from discarded fishing line. We have to date collected probably over 5000 kms of fishing line. The fishing line bin helps create public awareness about the negative impacts that fishing line debris has on marine life, water quality, and human welfare.
"We place bins at our local beaches and popular fishing spots encouraging anglers and beach walkers to dispose of their used fishing line. We hope to reduce the amount of fishing line entering the marine environment, as well as to increase the amount of fishing line being recycled. We also conduct regular beach clean-ups. We have strong partnerships with organisations that help the reach and management of this project,” says Trust CEO Wilfred Chivell.
The first twenty bins have been placed in partnership with Overstrand Municipality in the Gansbaai area. Since then bins have been placed at various locations around the country including alongside Blue Flag beaches and is proving to be an icon for marine pollution.
READ MORE: #LoveSA: 62 Beautiful Blue Flag beaches
Visit an Aquarium near you to increase your love and knowledge of marine life
South Africa's aquarium's are a beacon for marine life rehabilitation. The most celebrated has been the Two Oceans Aquarium, which functions as a "window on the ocean, showcasing the beauty and diversity of life beneath the waves."
However the Aquarium has made it a mission to showcase the underwater threat as a result of human activities. "It is our responsibility to inspire and empower people to see the connections between their actions and the health of the oceans, and to provide practical actions to lighten their footprint, including leading by example."
The inner workings of the aquarium is currently being showcased on TV screens across SA.
READ MORE: Inner workings of Cape Town's Two Oceans Aquarium takes centre stage in 'The Wild Ones' series
Find out how to get involved in a beach clean-up near you:
The folks over at Clean C run clean-ups across Cape Town's beaches on a monthly basis. Reasons to get involve include:
- The age-old adage many hands make light work rings true. Resources can be limited and when more people start getting stuck in, the work load lessens and more gets done, and in the end, more people are helped.
"A new face with new ideas can be a welcomed change. So, don't think your opinion isn't welcome - it most certainly is."
- Whether you are a business owner or just a kind individual who wants to give of their time, you may know others that can help out too. Businesses can ask others to donate people and money to a cause (it can be tax deductible too!) Individuals can rope in family members and friends, and really make it a group effort.
- You may have a knack for woodwork or are the boss with wool and needles - no matter your particular skill or talent (and we all have one) you will be welcomed with open arms to any community gathering.
- There is no other feeling like giving and once you see those happy smiles and hear the laughter, you will be hooked! Any small contribution is helpful, so don't ever think you have nothing to offer.
To see some of the projects and how you can get involved - take a look here.