Summer-vacation initiatives to preserve the ocean

NGOs are now offering lovers of the ocean, who would like to do something about the sad spectacle of beaches littered with rubbish and waters polluted by plastic, the opportunity to make a difference by participating in one of the many eco-volunteer programs to preserve oceans and marine species that are underway around the globe. Summer is the ideal time to take advantage of these schemes, which offer a chance to take a politically committed vacation that can also contribute to a break for the planet. 

A recent survey conducted by GlobeScan for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) of over 20,000 individuals across 23 countries has shown a growing interest in the preservation of ocean environments: in particular, among young people (18-24 years old), who have indicated a willingness to change their consumer habits. For example, 89% of that age group indicate their willingness to take action in the future to protect fish and seafood in the ocean habitat. 

Plastic pollution, overfishing, oil drilling… Human activity has an increasingly disastrous impact on the world’s oceans, which provide 50% of our oxygen and feed more than a billion people on the planet, GreenPeace has warned. In response to this state of affairs, the international environmental NGO recently launched an online petition “to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030”, which has already been signed by more than three million people. 

Here is roundup of just some of the programs around the world that may be of interest to those of you who are planning a beach vacation this summer and would like to take part in a politically committed initiative to protect marine fauna.  

Collecting waste from beaches and the ocean floor

The Surfrider Foundation, a well-established American non-profit which has been involved in the protection of oceans and coastlines for decades, organizes a variety of initiatives in different countries around the world including schemes that enable tourists to participate in beach-waste collections and dives to remove plastic from the coastal seabed. On the foundation’s website, there is an interactive map showing locations and dates for the different initiatives this summer 

Fishing for nets in the Mediterranean 

Strongly involved in the preservation of oceans and marine species, the American NGO Sea Shepherd, which is active in several countries around the world, offers volunteers an opportunity to participate in different types of initiatives: one that has been very successful in France is the “Mare Nostrum” operation, which involved an extensive series of dives in the Mediterranean Sea to recover abandoned fishing nets, which are a dangerous trap for marine species.

Protecting sea turtles 

With the exception of polar regions, sea turtles are present in all oceans of the world. However, their continued existence is now endangered by plastic-waste poisoning and relentless hunting by poachers. The protection of critical sites where turtles lay their eggs is a crucial aspect of the drive to protect these species.

With this in mind, several NGOs have launched operations on the shores of the Pacific and Indian oceans, which enable volunteers to collect turtle eggs, supervise their hatching and feed baby turtles to boost their chances of survival when they are set free in the ocean. Tourists in these areas have an opportunity to donate to these programs and also to release the sea turtles into the ocean. This is notably the case in Kuta on the island of Bali (Indonesia) with an initiative organized by the Bali Sea Turtle Society.

For those who have more time on their hands, it is possible to devote several weeks to programs of this kind, notably in Nicaragua with the non-profit Cybelle Planète or in Mayotte with Sea Shepherd’s Operation Nyamba. 

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