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Why We Need Marine-Protected Areas

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great-barrier-reef-34-by-eulinky-via-flickr

It’s come time for beachgoers, ocean lovers, environment enthusiasts, marine biologists and ocean conservationists to unite. No matter what role you have relating to the ocean, it’s crucial to raise awareness in order to save it.

The main reason marine-protected areas (MPAs) are established is to protect and conserve the marine area in its natural state. In order to keep the ocean the way it’s meant to be, full of life and resources, marine areas need protection now more than ever.

What Is a Marine-Protected Area?


You might know marine-protected areas by one of these names:

  • Marine sanctuary
  • Ocean park
  • Marine wildlife refuge
  • Estuarine research reserve

MPAs hold many forms, and in the U.S. they also have multiple uses. That means even though it’s protected, you are still allowed to surf, fish, swim or do other recreational activities. MPAs are maintained through the government, and some have restrictions such as “no-take” areas, or limitations on fishing or collecting items from the area.

There Just Aren’t Enough MPAs

The ocean faces everyday threats that result in destroyed ecosystems, extinction, endangered species, climate change and more. It’s suggested only 2.8 percent of the ocean is protected, yet the ocean takes up more than 70 percent of our planet. It’s an amazing accomplishment for the U.S. to have so many MPAs established.


The problem is, there are still not enough. Lack of government funding is a major reason for this, but another reason is people don’t understand how important MPAs are for our planet.

Shark Finning

The movie “Jaws” created an enormous element of fear when it comes to swimming in the ocean. People are ever-conscious of shark attacks, but little do they know every year people kill about 73 million sharks. Sharks are fished, their fins are cut off and saved, and the rest of their body is thrown back into the ocean, where they suffocate and die at the bottom.

So what do people use the fins for? The Animal Welfare Institute keeps a list of all the restaurants in the U.S. that serve shark fin soup, which is the main reason sharks are finned. Although it’s not popular in the United States, it’s considered a delicacy in other countries. If you haven’t had shark fin soup, you may still be guilty of owning a product that contains shark fin oil in it. Lipsticks, chapsticks, and other cosmetic products often have shark fin oil as an ingredient.

Even though the U.S. has bills and acts to work on banning shark finning, and its trade in the United States, it’s still happening. If an MPA was established in specific areas where more sharks are being fished, it could help the shark population rise again. Protection of marine areas that have sharks would not only reduce their risk of extinction, but it would increase jobs and funding. Marine biologists could raise money to research this, tourists would pay to swim with sharks, and, better yet, shark finning would finally come to an end.

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a protected marine park. Scientists have raised over $200 million annually to maintain its health. This is a great example of what a protected area can do and why we need more areas like this.

Plans are set to research and conserve certain species. The ecosystem and water quality are observed and recorded. The sustainability of this reef is crucial, especially due to its biological diversity and vast natural ecosystem. How could the largest coral reef on earth not be protected?

Recently, an “obituary” of The Great Barrier Reef went viral. The positive factor in all of the press was that it raised awareness that the Great Barrier Reef is indeed dying. This will make the numbers of supporters rise, funds will be raised, and people will know it’s not too late to save the reef.

If an MPA that has been protected for quite some time now has declined in health, it’s a huge reason the ocean needs more protected areas.

Endangered Species

There are 368 marine species that are endangered or are at risk of being endangered. Turtles, whales and dolphins are just some of the many endangered species. Without marine life, ecosystems all over the ocean would no longer be maintained. The food chain would be destroyed. Each species is unique to the ocean and the role it plays in maintaining it.

In order to conserve the ocean in its natural, beautiful state we must protect more areas. Marine-protected areas not only protect the waters but everything in the waters. The ocean protects humans from natural disasters, provides jobs and funding. The ocean is a vast, deep and mysterious part of our planet we continue to learn about. Without the ocean, we wouldn’t survive. That’s why it’s time to mark more areas of the ocean as marine-protected areas.

Bobbi PetersonBobbi Peterson loves writing and regularly posts on her blog Living Life Green. She’s also a freelance writer, green living advocate and environmentalist. You can find more from Bobbi on Twitter.

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.


While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.


One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.


1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.


4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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