National Marine Week is celebrated every year during the second week of October to create awareness and educate all South Africans about their responsibility within the coastal environment.The theme of 2016’s National Marine Week  is, “Our ocean, our future” and after a year of headlines featuring multiple selfish selfies with distressed sea turtles, dolphins and sharks it is clear that awareness is much needed.

As it turns out, there are not plenty of fish in the sea; the supposed keepers of the oceans (the human race) are doing a pretty stellar job at messing it all up and we’ve relocated the residents of our seas to the prime position of being a fish in troubled waters.The future of our ocean is in our hands, our choices and our actions and there are a few things we can do to ensure that the next generation won’t have a National Marine Week in 2030 with the theme, “Our ocean, our loss”.

Do your bit for ocean conservation and consider these 5 effortless practices:

1. You are what you eat

A shocking 312 million kilograms of seafood is consumed in South Africa every year. Make sustainable seafood choices; avoid all fish species which are red-listed. The South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) has pocket guides and even an app available that will tell you which fish are ‘Green’ and safe to choose, which are ‘Orange’ that you have to think twice about before consuming and which species are ‘Red’ which are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa.

2. Bid the plastic farewell

Reduce, reuse and recycle are three words that should form part of our daily lives and daily choices:

  • Stop using straws because an extension from your mouth to the glass is not necessary (and if you want to use the “but maybe the glass at the restaurant is not clean” excuse then just think about that knife and fork that you will put in your mouth. Is that clean?).
  • Say happy birthday with cake, not balloons.
  • Use reusable shopping bags, containers, water bottles and cutlery.
  • Instead of using hotel toiletries, use your own.

3. Do not litter

It is as easy as pie; if you have something to throw away, look for a bin. If you see trash that is not yours, be a responsible adult and pick it up. If you see someone who litters, speak up (and then pick that person up and look for a bin).

4. Think about your butt

Did you know that your butt is not biodegradable? Cigarette filters are made from plastic fibres and after you had your puff the toxic aroma of nicotine and tar still lingers around. Be responsible with your butt and bin it (and streets, beaches and parks are not bins).

5. Avoid the exploitation of marine life

If you smell something fishy and get that feeling in your gut that a certain tourist activity might be exploiting an animal, trust your instinct. Avoid buying souvenirs or jewellery made from coral reefs, sharks or tortoise shells and don’t take part in any captive animal practices like entertainment shows, swimming with dolphins or whales.