Marine conservation is an important issue that requires everyone’s attention. Studies have shown that fish population has declined by 75% over the year. Not to mention the increasing destruction of coral reefs and marine debris that constantly invades our oceans. As if that’s not enough, sea turtles are facing serious threats from illegal poaching activities conducted by irresponsible individuals.
Marine Conservation Threats
1. Marine Debris
Marine debris is one of the most serious pollution problems facing our oceans. The most common issues are floating debris, which causes entanglement and ingestion by marine animals. It’s a global problem and the effect it has on our wildlife and marine life is devastating. Fish, whales, dolphins, seabirds and turtles have been found with plastic in their stomach, causing them to die as they cannot eat.
2. Destructive Fishing Method
Coral reefs, on the other hand, are threatened with destructive fishing methods such as fish bombing and the use of cyanide and dragnets. These methods are the main causes of the destruction of more than 10% of coral reefs, as mentioned by Prof Dr Ridzwan Abdul Rahman, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) researcher. Another cause contributing to the destruction is discarded fishing nets that can get caught on coral heads, and eventually breaking them off.
3. Turtle Poaching
Turtle poaching is not uncommon in Malaysia, especially in Sabah Borneo. No matter how protected these turtles are, irresponsible people always manage to find a way to take advantage of these vulnerable sea creatures. If their meat isn’t enough, poachers would sell turtle eggs for a fair price. Since it’s illegal to sell or buy turtle eggs here, these poachers would hide the eggs in drains out of fear of being arrested by the officials. But even so, you can find them selling turtle eggs to the public at market places.
Over a month ago, hundreds of sea turtle carcasses were found scattered in some bushes on Pulau Bum Bum, Semporna. The turtles were identified as the Green turtle species (Chelonia mydas) which is protected under Schedule 1 of Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
What Can We Do?
1. 3R: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Clear plastic bottles, food wrappers, plastic fragments, coloured plastic bottles, and cups are the most common object collected from the ocean. Any reduction in plastics usage benefits the environment and reusing or recycling will reduce the environmental impact.
2. Participate Clean–ups
Join any events or programs that have the objective or mission to clean and preserve our marine ecosystem. Participating in beach or river clean-ups reduces the amount of waste in the ocean. On the 19th of November, 2017, Downbelow X RipCurl Marine Conservation Program 2017 will be held at Downbelow PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah where a total of 100 participants will take part in marine conservation activities on-site. This event aims to raise awareness, educate and encourage action towards the global problem of marine debris and the importance of preserving our coral reefs.
In conjunction with the event, Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures will be fundraising for marine conservation and animal welfare. 100% of the proceeds will be channelled to the Project AWARE Foundation and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Kota Kinabalu. This on-going cause will need as much monetary aid as possible, therefore a Joint Fundraising for Marine Conservation & Animal Rescue Page have been set up for publics who wish to give support and contribute. Every individual action adds up.
3. Stop Eating Turtle Eggs
Turtle meat and eggs are considered as one of the exotic food to improve one’s health. However, a recent study proves that eating sea turtle eggs increases the health risk of heavy metal exposure in local communities in Panama. Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and McGill University collected eggs from Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Olive Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) from the Pacific coast of Panama, and measured the heavy metal amounts which was known to cause adverse health effects in human that contains in turtle eggs. The study was published in June in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health.
The ocean and its marine is the largest life support system of Earth, and is our most promising source of medication. When we decide to take action and save the ocean, we’re not doing it for only ourselves, but also for our future generation.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”- Robert Swan