What You Can Do For The Ocean
I have lived close to the water all of my life. I remember the first time I ventured inland with my family when I was a kid. We went to see our cousins that lived on the other side of the Cascade Mountain Range, east of Seattle. I distinctly remember the feeling of, “Whoa… there’s no ocean here.” Their “oceans” were called lakes and rivers and they seemed to me, as a 6 year old, that those bodies of water were separate and wholly disconnected from my ocean, which was the Puget Sound, the inland sound that is connected the Pacific Ocean via the Straits of Juan de Fuca, along the border of Washington State and British Columbia, Canada.
Now we know better. We know that water, the most essential and life-giving substance on the planet, is what connects us. All bodies of water are linked. Rain falls on the mountains, filling lakes that fill streams that fill rivers that eventually run to the ocean. And so we are all “ocean people,” though our experience levels in swimming with tropical fish and sea turtles might vary.
We all want to help the oceans and their inhabitants stay clean and thrive, but it’s easy to feel like you are just one person trying to fix a problem that is beyond your ability to influence. At Kai Kanani Sailing, we know what it’s like to be a small boat company trying to help solve a problem that seems so big. But we have partnered with some incredible people at the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and we’ve spent a lot of time learning and then educating our guests in simple ways we can affect the oceans’ health. And in doing so as individuals and families, we are like a drop of rain that lands on the mountain that joins a stream that builds a river that moves earth to find the ocean. We can all make a difference. Here’s a few simple ways you can begin.
1. Eat Sustainable
With a massive boom in global demand for seafood over the last decade, there are conscious choices to be made about what we purchase at the market or at restaurants. Remember, you vote with your wallet! Make sure the seafood you buy comes through sustainable fishing practices. Ask your waiter where the fish was caught. Or subscribe to a sustainable seafood box like Drifters Fish out of Cordova, Alaska. It might cost a little more, but how cool is it to know who caught your fish?
Also, check to see if your cat or dog’s food is using sustainable seafood. What’s good for us is also good for our furry friends.
2. Check your sunscreen!
The global sunscreen market was worth $8.5 billion dollars in 2019. A huge majority of those purchases were for sunscreen that contains extremely toxic chemicals like oxybenzone that affect coral and fish reproduction. The State of Hawaii has banned these sunscreens starting January 1, 2021 but you can ban them from your home starting today!
3. Support your local water advocacy group
Whether you’re close to a river, a lake or the sea, there are incredible groups of passionate people working to improve the health and vitality of the local aquatic environment. Sign up for a beach or riverbank cleanup. Bring your kids along and help them form an understanding of sustainable practices. At Kai Kanani, we do beach cleanups several times a year in South Maui, along Maluaka Beach and in Makena State Park, connecting us to what the Hawaiians call the ‘Aina (eye-nah): not just the land, but the sacred energy that permeates it as well. And we partner with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, who does naturalist training for our entire crew.
4. Be mindful while on the water (and in your home!)
The Kai Kanani crew is on the water every day. Some of our guests have been surprised to see a crew member spot a small plastic cup floating in the ocean and our captain immediately turn the boat around and maneuver so that our crew can pull that cup out of the water. We do this because we are hyper-mindful of the fragility of the ocean environment. So we are constantly monitoring our practices to find ways to reduce the use of plastic. In 2019, we eliminated single-use plastic utensils on board. Ask yourself, what could you do to reduce single-use plastic in your home or in your car or workplace? If you’re like us, it’s not hard to make a long list in just a few minutes.
There are candidates that are ocean-minded running for office in local and state elections all over the country. Ask your candidates about their stance on water-health and demand that they consider the health of the oceans and their inhabitants. Good political policies are essential to the future of the planet and we each have the power to consider the water when casting our ballots.
Lastly, if you agree with these steps and feel they are helpful, please share this with your friends and family on social media and elsewhere. Today is World Oceans Day and we want our voices to be heard.
Want to learn more? Read this article from Eco-Watch which goes in depth on sunscreens that are harmful for the reef.