Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
On Mar. 24, Netflix released a new documentary, “Seaspiracy,” about the environmental impact of fishing. The film looks at the global causes of marine life destruction, and touches on the effects of pollution in the ocean, including plastic debris, ghost nets and overfishing.
With this documentary rapidly gaining attention, issues surrounding the decline of our ocean’s ecosystems are in the media spotlight. It is important to highlight the messages being pushed in “Seaspiracy” as well as in some of Netflix’s other documentaries, like “Blackfish,” “A Plastic Ocean” and “Mission Blue.”
Ocean conservation and environmental sustainability, particularly sustainability that directly impacts marine life, has always been a passion of mine. Growing up in a city like Atlanta and then moving to Rome for college sometimes makes it difficult to garner attention directed towards saving our oceans, because neither of these places are located near a coastline. It’s easy to fall into an “out of sight, out of mind” perspective.
But our oceans, our marine life and essentially the well-being of humanity in the future depends on our efforts to protect the oceans now.
Watching documentaries like the ones Netflix has to offer is a great place to start when it comes to educating yourself about what is happening to our ocean ecosystems and what the long term effects of the damage being done can be.
Essentially, our oceans are becoming a collection of waste deposited by humans. This is something that most people know, given the movement to reduce the consumption of one-use plastic products. While the accumulation of waste in the ocean is an issue that most people are aware of, it is still rarely addressed, unless a new documentary is released. Ocean conservation has become one of those things that we hear about and think, “wow, that’s concerning, I hope someone fixes it soon.”
The problem is that ocean conservation is only addressed when it’s talked about and it’s only talked about when a documentary is released or a natural disaster happens. Because of this, efforts to save our oceans need to run deeper than banning plastic straws and using canvas bags at the grocery store.
I think that in order for people to take ocean conservation more seriously, they have to understand the severity of ocean pollution. Did you know that it takes approximately 450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose in the ocean? It takes 80 to 200 years for an aluminum can to decompose and 600 years for fishing wire to decompose.
These are all common objects found among ocean debris. They are currently taking up space in our oceans and will continue to take up space long after we’re gone. Again, the “out of sight out of mind” perspective comes into play because we don’t have to see these objects floating in the water as they decompose nor do we have to live in the filth we dispose of, but this is not the case for marine life.
Passion for ocean conservation stems from a place of empathy as well as education. You don’t have to be an animal lover to want to protect marine life and biodiversity. Simple recognition of the fact that there are living creatures in the ocean whose habitats are being ruined by our waste should compel people to want to be more conscientious of their wasteful habits.
We use the beach for vacation, sport and monetary gain. We think of the water as being at our disposal and have no regard for the animals that consider it their home and no respect for the benefits the ecosystems within the ocean provide for our wellbeing.
If not for marine life, think about investing in ocean conversation to protect your health. When plastic products dissolve in the ocean, they release harmful toxins into the water that we ultimately swim in. The toxins are also ingested by fish that we then consume still allowing the toxins to enter our bodies as well.
These are just the basic reasons why ocean conservation efforts should be a topic of discussion aside from the times it’s talked about in the media. I encourage you to watch documentaries and find your own reasons to get involved with ocean conservation.