What’s better than Halloween? National marine week is an annual event, started in 2012, and run by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, in the second week of October. In 2021, it runs from the 7th to the 11th of October. Its focus is to create awareness on the marine and coastal environment and to promote sustainable use and conservation of these resources, so we cannot only enjoy it for today but for many years to come. As South Africans, living in a beautiful country with 2800 kilometres of coastline, stretching from the Atlantic coast of the Northern Cape to the Indian Limpopo coast, we have a responsibility to protect it. Our coast is a treasure trove of biodiversity, carbon sinks and heritage. What’s scarier than Halloween is losing this beloved wildlife and plant life source.
Here are some actions you can take to protect our marine life and environment:
- Be a conscious tourist. Avoid picking up shells, animals or plants that you find on the beach. Instead, pick up rubbish and memories. You can also report any concerns that you have to the local authorities.
- Get involved. Find local groups that run beach clean ups or start your own group. Sustainability is a community practice, and for true impact, collective behaviour change is necessary. Also, it’s more fun!
- Reduce your single-use plastic consumption. Refuse and rethink your daily habits. Bring a bag to the shops, carry a water bottle and refill it, say no to the straw (you know what we mean) and recycle your plastic waste.
- Schools don’t just apply to fish, be smart about your consumption. Check that fishing methods are not destructive or aggressive, demand credible labelling and transparency from your supplier and choose local and seasonal fish.
For more information on how to care for the ocean and marine environments, you can check out the following links:
Article contributors: Kate Steinkenberg and Daniëlle Gerber