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Ocean Wise Conservation Association

Ocean Wise Conservation Association is a charitable organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia with initiatives and staff across Canada, whose main focus is conservation, restoration and protection of world oceans. The organization empowers community to maintain ocean health through education, direct- actions conservation, research and field projects. The organizations major focus can be classified into three categories: Tackling ocean pollution; climate change action and tackling overfishing. The vision of the organization is to ensure flourishing and healthy oceans by inspiring the global community to be Ocean Wise through increased understanding, appreciation and wonder for the ocean’s capacity. The organization has a team of experts in the leadership ranks who lead by example through research, conservation and education.

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Ocean Wise Research incorporates science in support of healthy oceans and aquatic species. Ocean Wise research disseminates understanding and knowledge concerning populations, individuals and habitat in the Ocean realms. Ocean Wise Research Institute supports field work research while data collection research is undertaken at the Vancouver Aquarium. Research is important in knowledge dissemination aimed at improving healthy of the aquatic species and their environment while educating people on the best way they can minimize or mitigate human impact on the coastal environment. Ocean Wise researchers have published many scientific articles that are key to ocean life and human interaction. Research team comprise of aquarium biologists, ocean pollution researchers, marine mammal researchers, conservationists, breeders, solid waste managers and environmentalists.

The organization has an online video stream that focuses on the research undertaken in the institute and the aquarium on weekly basis to educate people on the research in the progress. Research is important in any sector since it guides in policy formulation and decision making. Tackling overfishing, climate change and ocean pollution cannot be achieved without scientific data informing the public and decision makers of the impact such issues have on the quality of aquatic life. Scientific supported information creates the necessary traction and momentum for people across the coasts and decision makers on their behavior in terms of what they allow to enter the ocean and their activities. Aquatic life extinction is possible due to overfishing, pollution and climate change, hence giving such information to the public and decision makers hasten mitigation measures to protect species from being extinct. Research enables the organization to develop theories and concepts regarding overfishing, pollution and climate change specifically in the ocean waters.

Research provides avenue for funding from governments and research institutions ensuring the business survival of the organization. Scholarships and funding opportunities accorded researchers at Ocean Wise Research provides revenue streams for sustainability purposes. In addition, the organization receives numerous supports in terms of modern equipment by equipment manufacturers needed to support the research.

Sustainable ocean life can only be guaranteed when pollution is reduced, mitigated or eliminated completely. Ocean Wise has established many ways of keeping the ocean clean and healthy for both the aquatic life and human life. Plastics are the major pollution elements threatening ocean life as identified by Ocean Wise. Plastics destroy marine environment, reduce ocean capacity to fight climate change, harm marine species and finally enter into human food and drinking water, creating major health concerns. Ocean Wise initiatives on pollution control aim to stop plastic leakage into the ocean water, proposes plastic recycling instead of damping through innovative ways. Limiting plastics entry into ocean water has promise of rehabilitating the oceans into a flourishing habitat for the marine species and sustainable future human generations.

Plastics have spread in all parts of the ocean cycle. Plastics are found in the deep sea, ocean surface and even in the intestines of the whales. Hence plastic menace threatens sea life, causing suffocation, malnutrition, injury and entanglement. Other than affecting sea life, plastic is present in human food, water and breathing air which endangers human life as well. The cost of producing plastics is very low and the world produces more than 40% of plastics for single use purposes and only 9% of the plastics are recycled in Canada. With such behavior, plastic issue will still continue causing havoc for the generations to come. Ocean Wise has established plastic reduction program to tackle unnecessary and harmful plastic utility. The organization also seeks government support in banning single use plastics while encouraging food professionals and manufacturers to reduce plastic footprint. The program provides an opportunity for Ocean Wise to partner with food professionals to eliminate unnecessary and harmful plastics within a period of twelve months, especially single-use plastics; help the professionals to increase plastic recycling and reduce plastic use; and utilize Ocean Wise reporting tool on annual progress. For sustainability purposes, the Ocean Wise has been receiving funding from Vivreau, Vancity and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Ocean Wise has taken the issue of plastic pollution to a higher level by establishing the impact plastics have on marine environment through research, cleaning plastics across Canada shorelines, and creating public and private alliances like Microfiber Partnership dealing with microfiber pollution from textile industry. Ocean Wise has also done and published papers on reducing the impact of packaging waste on ethe aquatic environment. The research has been used to inform global issues while providing industry-specific solutions from science perspective. The organization has also established that plastics breakdown into smaller or tiny pieces that find their way in the system of fish and humans. Research has boosted Ocean Wise sustainability by allowing them the chance to study marine animals and how they can be saved from plastic entanglement. Research and innovation in rescuing marine from plastic entanglement is a key sustainability mechanism for ensuring fish health and flourish.

Other than plastics, other solid wastes such as nets, wires and ropes poorly disposed off by humans kill and injure marine mammals found along the coasts. Some marine animals such as sea lion are very curious and tend to be entangled by debris discarded along the coastline. Entangled sea lions must be sedated and specialist equipment used to disentangle them from the debris. It is a risky process whose success depends on ocean conditions, weather, experts and support from other organizations. Preventing pollution is cheaper than the disentanglement process as a single operation could cost up to $7500 for staff. Equipment and medication. To minimize cases of entanglement, Ocean Wise has established The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup where community groups sign-up for cleaning the shorelines every year.

Overfishing endangers sustainability of the ocean species and has become a global issue. Ocean Wise has established a program dabbed Ocean Wise Seafood program which empowers businesses and consumers to select sustainable seafood choices that support healthy oceans currently and in days to come. Through application of research, Ocean Wise together with scientists and collaborators provide up-to-date recommendation regarding aquatic environment and possible species they support. Providing such recommendation enable businesses to achieve sustainability and meet customer demand by producing fishes that suit certain ecosystems while protecting the ocean. Sustainable fishing is important bearing in mind more than a billion people depend on seafood as source of protein. Without sustainability, overfishing is evident. According to Food and Agriculture Organization branch of United Nations, over 90% of world fish stock has been overfished or fully fished, leaving less than 10% fish stock that is underfished.

Due to global population growth, per capita fish consumption has increased to about 20kg from 9.9kg in the last half-century. Sustainable seafood is key to a healthy population and for customers and businesses choosing to trade Ocean Wise recommended seafood eliminates pressure over the overfished species and provides sustainability for future generations. Ocean Wise has established symbols that give greenlight of the fish species to be consumed that have less overfishing footprint. The recommendation are based on four aspects: resilient and abundant to fishing pressure; properly managed following current research recommendations; fish harvested in methods that reduces bycatch of the non-target or endangered species; or fish harvested in ways that do not change the aquatic or marine habitat. Such recommendations offer an avenue for fishing sustainability as fish caught is mature, abundant and the process of harvesting has little or no impact on the aquatic or marine habitat that would endanger the non-targeted species.

Ocean Wise encourages sustainable fishing because not all fish caught in wild fishing that is consumed. Research estimate that over 40% of global fish catch is not wanted or in other words comprise of bycatch which are discarded from the catching vessel. The bycatch represents an unsustainable way of fishing and using vessels that can only catch the required fish size which are not endangered saves the fish stock for the future generation. Developing fishing methods and technologies that avoid catching undersized, endangered and unmarketable species is the only sure way to ensure sustainability by avoiding overfishing. Most of the fish thrown back after the bycatch do not survive, hence physical sorting is not a sustainable method. Ocean Wise discourages consumption of seafood harvested in unethical ways that could have caused bycatch such as those harvested using bottom trawling and surface long lining methods that increase possibility of bycatch.

Sustainability fishing require protection of species habitat to avoid extinction of certain species. Some farming and fishing methods have negative impact on aquatic and marine habitats. The methods could result to loss of important habitat such as breeding nursery, spawning and sheltering zones without which the species would find it hard to survive. Kelp forests, mangroves, coral reefs and wetlands provide important habitat for different ocean species and should be protected from any damage. Damaging the habitats has negative environmental impact such as increased levels of carbon dioxide and other green house gases that cause environmental degradation and climate change. Ocean Wise encourages community activities aimed at conserving the coastal habitats through education to children and community groups across Ocean coastlines. Education and partnership offer the only way Ocean Wise can cultivate healthy ocean culture for future posterity. Environmental conservation education and initiatives have received wide spread attention as major ways of protecting overfishing and giving different fish species avenue for reproduction. Ocean Wise has partnered with businesses to label ocean wise choices to enable consumers that support sustainable fishing to purchase and support business that have adopted sustainable fishing methods and mechanisms.

In order to tackle climate change, Ocean Wise has increased seaforestation to ensure seaweed are farmed and restored to increase environmental benefits to people, climate and oceans. Seasforestation projects are critical in ensuring significant environmental aspects, and economic sustainability of coastal communities. Ocean Wise has established important gaps in knowledge, regulatory, social-license and finances that they have promised to partner with other organizations in order to expand growth and scale of seaforestation responsibly. Ocean Wise through research have established that environmental restoration of the coastal regions can be done in a simple way through growing seaweed instead of terrestrial plants that take longer time to grow. Seaweed farming does not compromise ocean ecosystem integrity. Seaweeds are important in carbon dioxide sequestration a key method of tackling global warming by reducing greenhouse gases emission. Seaweed products have a wide range of market that can make seaweed farming a financially sustainable enterprise by creating jobs for coastal and indigenous communities.

Work Cited

Ocean Wise (2021). Accessed March 14, 2021. Retrieved from https://ocean.org/

Dolmage, K. M., Macfarlane, V., & Alley, J. (2016). Understanding sustainable seafood consumption behavior: an examination of the Ocean Wise (OW) initiative in British Columbia. Ecology and Society, 21(2).

Schnurr, R. E., Alboiu, V., Chaudhary, M., Corbett, R. A., Quanz, M. E., Sankar, K., … & Walker, T. R. (2018). Reducing marine pollution from single-use plastics (SUPs): A review. Marine pollution bulletin, 137, 157-171.

Simmonds, M. P., & Eliott, W. J. (2009). Climate change and cetaceans: concerns and recent developments. Journal of the Marine biological Association of the United Kingdom, 89(1), 203-210.

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