One of the main pressures affecting the marine environment today results from the release and subsequent negative effects of contaminants into marine environments. Contaminants are defined in EU legislation as: “substances (i.e. chemical elements and compounds) or groups of substances that are toxic, persistent and liable to bioaccumulate and other substances or groups of substances which give rise to an equivalent level of concern” (Water Framework Directive, Article 2(29)).

Contaminants causing particular concern include pesticides, pharmaceutical agents (e.g. antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesic drugs, lipid-lowering drugs, oestrogen-containing medication), heavy metals (e.g. mercury, arsenic, lead) and anti-foulants (e.g. from paint used on the bottom of a boats to prevent fouling).

Contamination of the marine environment arises from direct releases, land-based river runoff or atmospheric deposition. Contaminant pollution can result in serious adverse effects on ecosystems and eventually on human health through the process of ‘bioaccumulation’. Bioaccumulation begins with contamination of animals low in the marine food chain, which are then eaten in large quantities by bigger predatory animals. Toxins bioaccumulate in prey and are then passed on to animals (usually a larger fish or marine mammals) that prey on them which, in turn, may be consumed by an even larger animal. These contaminants increase in concentration as they climb the food chain through a process known as “biomagnification” until finally, a contaminated animal may be consumed by a human being.

Different chemicals affect human health in different ways. It is believed that sufficient consumption of contaminated food could lead to human health problems, for example hormonal problems, reproductive problems, nervous system damage and kidney damage.

Ocean acidification refers to an ongoing change in the chemistry of the ocean caused an increase in the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

The ocean absorbs about one third of human-created carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is a ‘Greenhouse Gas’ produced by the burning of fossil fuels. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, carbonic acid is produced. This is slowly increasing the acidity of the oceans which can have a range of harmful consequences, such as depressing metabolic rates and immune responses in some organisms, causing coral bleaching and affecting the ability of some organisms to build the calcium carbonate shells that protect them. These changes pose new risks for a vast range of ocean life, from clams and coral reefs to crabs, shrimp, lobster, krill, sea urchin, sea snails, and some kinds of plankton, to name a few.

For an animated crash course on Ocean Acidification by the PEW Charitable Trust see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogZkV-Yj7Hc

You can help reduce ocean acidification today by finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Many of these options will also save you money!

360px Ocean Acid COPY

The Problem:

Ocean acidification refers to an ongoing change in the chemistry of the ocean caused an increase in the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The ocean absorbs about one third of human-created carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is a ‘Greenhouse Gas’ produced by the burning of fossil fuels. When carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, carbonic acid is produced. This is slowly increasing the acidity of the oceans which can have a range of harmful consequences, such as depressing metabolic rates and immune responses in some organisms, causing coral bleaching and affecting the ability of some organisms to build the calcium carbonate shells that protect them. These changes pose new risks for a vast range of ocean life, from clams and coral reefs to crabs, shrimp, lobster, krill, sea urchin, sea snails, and some kinds of plankton, to name a few.

For an animated crash course on Ocean Acidification by the PEW Charitable Trust see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogZkV-Yj7Hc

You can help reduce ocean acidification today by finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Many of these options will also save you money!

What Can We Do?

Tip 1: Explore transportation alternatives. Could you walk, bike, use public transport, carpool, car-share or drive an electric vehicle to get around?

Tip 2: Choose an energy efficient vehicle and keep your tyres properly inflated. Correctly inflated tires can boost your miles per gallon anywhere from 4 to 40 percent.

Tip 3: Adapt your driving style. Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage, waste fuel and money, and increase your carbon footprint.

Tip 4: Telecommute whenever possible rather than, for example, driving or flying for meeting people.

Tip 5: Use hot water more efficiently. Wash clothes in warm or cold water, lower temperature settings of heaters, use water efficient faucets and showerheads.

Tip 6: Reduce your energy use at home. Make sure your home is well insulated, especially in the roof and around windows. Remember to turn off the lights, replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient lighting alternatives, unplug power sources not in use, and use shorter cycles on your dishwasher and washing machine.

Tip 7: Carry out a home energy audit. Evaluate the efficiency of your appliances and lighting, check insulation, and look for air leaks around doors, pipes and windows to discover how you can save energy.

Tip 8: Conserve water. It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and heat water so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Also, remember that often what goes down the drain ends up in rivers and lakes, which all run into our ocean.

Tip 9: Waste less food. Agriculture and food production uses vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Each year, food that is wasted is responsible for adding an estimated 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere.

Tip 10: Eat less red meat. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport”.

Tip 11: Buy less. Manufacturing products and transporting them burns a lot of carbon. Think “Do I really need this?” before you buy. This will also save you money!

Tip 12: Buy locally produced and seasonal food to minimise carbon emissions of transportation.

Do you have any more tips? Let us know at #OurOceanOurHealth

Useful Resources:

360 Debris

SeaChange Infographic PlasticPollution Final

The Problem

Nearly nine million tons of plastic waste enters the ocean every year. This debris affects fish and wildlife through choking or entanglement. It also poses an additional threat through the release of toxic chemicals from plastic material as it breaks down, and through the almost invisible danger known as ‘microplastics’.

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles, created either by the ocean grinding down larger pieces of plastic waste or introduced directly into the ocean as ‘microbeads’, such as those used in beauty products. Microplastic particles can be consumed by fish, seabirds and filter feeding marine animals such as shellfish, tubeworms and zooplankton as they filter the ocean water for their food or they may be eaten by smaller organisms that mistake these tiny particles for their natural food, which can have toxic effects or starve them to death.

Microplastics also put our supplies of healthy seafood at risk through contamination. Studies have demonstrated the ability of plastic to take up toxic substances and metals, which are present in trace quantities in almost all water bodies. Plastics, along with the toxic substances and metals they soak up, can enter the bodies of marine animals (e.g. zooplankton) upon consumption. It is thought that these contaminants can increase in concentration as they climb the food chain (referred to as ‘biomagnification’) - from tiny plankton to large predatory fish like tuna, salmon, and swordfish - and could ultimately reach humans at more toxic levels through consumption of seafood.

What Can We Do?

Tip 1: Use a biodegradable paper straw or drink straight from the glass rather than using plastic drinking straw.

Tip 2: Fight hidden plastic by refusing to use cosmetics that contain plastic microbeads. Beware of products containing polyethylene and polypropylene - if neither of these are listed in the ingredients, you're microbead-free!

Tip 3: Carry your own reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.

Tip 4: Choose metal cutlery over plastic.

Tip 5: Don’t put any products containing plastic (such as Q-tips, sanitary products or sticking plasters) down the drain or toilet.

Tip 6: Choose biodegradable or reusable plates over plastic plates.

Tip 7: Use reusable shopping bags (preferably cloth) over disposable plastic bags.

Tip 8: Compost your organic waste to use fewer rubbish bags.

Tip 9: Reuse, recycle and opt for no packaging when possible (e.g. through packaging-free shops).

Do you have any tips? Let us know on Twitter using #OurOceanOurHealth.

Useful Resources: Microplastics

Useful Resources: Marine Litter:

French flag

360 TakeAction2 copy                       

Even by making a small change in what you do every day, you can achieve big results in helping to protect the ocean.

The Sea Change campaign provides tips on what you can do to make a difference and useful resources to help make it easy for you to take action. This campaign is based on the latest scientific evidence with input from scientists and educators from a range of disciplines.

Make a sea change today to protect the ocean from: 

Plastic Marine Debris

360 Debris

What Can We Do?

Tip 1: Use a biodegradable paper straw or drink straight from the glass rather than using plastic drinking straw.
Tip 2: Fight hidden plastic by refusing to use cosmetics that contain plastic microbeads. Beware of products containing polyethylene and polypropylene - if neither of these are listed in the ingredients, you're microbead-free! 
Tip 3: Carry your own reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
Tip 4: Choose metal cutlery over plastic. 
Tip 5: Don’t put any products containing plastic (such as Q-tips, sanitary products or sticking plasters) down the drain or toilet.
Tip 6: Choose biodegradable or reusable plates over plastic plates.
Tip 7: Use reusable shopping bags (preferably cloth) over disposable plastic bags.
Tip 8: Compost your organic waste to use fewer rubbish bags.
Tip 9: Reuse, recycle and opt for no packaging when possible (e.g. through packaging-free shops).

Read More

   
Ocean Acidification
360px Ocean Acid COPY

What Can We Do?

Tip 1: Explore transportation alternatives. Could you walk, bike, use public transport, carpool, car-share or drive an electric vehicle to get around?
Tip 2: Choose an energy efficient vehicle and keep your tires properly inflated. Correctly inflated tires can boost your miles per gallon anywhere from 4 to 40 percent.
Tip 3: Adapt your driving style. Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage, waste fuel and money, and increase your carbon footprint. 
Tip 4: Telecommute whenever possible rather than, for example, driving or flying for meeting people.
Tip 5: Use hot water more efficiently. Wash clothes in warm or cold water, lower temperature settings of heaters, use water efficient faucets and showerheads.
Tip 6: Reduce your energy use at home. Make sure your home is well insulated, especially in the roof and around windows. Remember to turn off the lights, replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient lighting alternatives, unplug power sources not in use, and use shorter cycles on your dishwasher and washing machine.
Tip 7: Carry out a home energy audit. Evaluate the efficiency of your appliances and lighting, check insulation, and look for air leaks around doors, pipes and windows to discover how you can save energy.
Tip 8: Conserve water. It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat and heat water so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Also, remember that often what goes down the drain ends up in rivers and lakes, which all run into our ocean.
Tip 9: Waste less food. Agriculture and food production uses vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Each year, food that is wasted is responsible for adding an estimated 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere.
Tip 10: Eat less red meat. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport”.
Tip 11: Buy less. Manufacturing products and transporting them burns a lot of carbon. Think “Do I really need this?” before you buy. This will also save you money! 
Tip 12: Buy locally produced and seasonal food to minimise carbon emissions of transportation. 
Do you have any more tips? Let us know at #OurOceanOurHealth

Read More

   
Pollution of the Ocean by Contaminants
360 Pollution

What Can We Do?

Tip 1: Keep your sewer drains free from rubbish and toxic chemicals. Reduce the use of hazardous chemicals by choosing environmentally friendly household cleaners, pesticides and fertilisers.
Tip 2: Dispose of chemicals and items containing chemicals properly. Most communities have recycling centres that will accept used oil and other chemicals for recycling.
Tip 3: Never pour any oil or other chemicals onto the ground or into drains. Many of these chemicals eventually make their way to the ocean. 
Tip 4: Consume less pesticide-dependant foods to reduce the amount of pesticides used or go organic.
Tip 5: Do not discharge sewage from boats into coastal waters. Use pump-out stations. Report any malicious dumping that you witness to the local Environment Agency. 
Tip 6: Become informed about manufacturing processes and "clean" alternatives to products. 
Tip 7: Consider growing an ocean friendly garden that will revive our under-hydrated watershed and polluted ocean. More details on this on the Surfrider Foundation website: http://www.surfrider.org/programs/ocean-friendly-gardens 
Tip 8: Dispose of unused medicines responsibly; do not throw them in the rubbish or flush them down the toilet. Return them to your local pharmacy or collection centre.

Read More

   
Depletion of Fish Stocks
360 Depletion

What Can We Do?

What seafood YOU choose to eat can help alleviate the pressures on vulnerable fish stocks, preventing their depletion. Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed in a manner that enables production of that seafood to be maintained in the long-term. If WE act now, some threatened fish stocks can be saved!
Tip 1: Make smart consumer choices. Only eat sustainable seafood. There are plenty of seafood guides available online which tell you what seafood is good for you and the planet, and what isn’t. Some supermarkets pride themselves on ensuring the seafood they sell is from sustainable sources. 
Tip 2: Learn more about the fishing and aquaculture sectors so you can make informed choices as a consumer. 
Tip 3: Ask your restaurant if the fish they are serving is a sustainable resource. Even asking the question may cause them to investigate sourcing sustainable seafood in the future.
Tip 4: Buy seafood that has certification stating it is sustainable, for example it holds the Marine Stewardship seal of approval: https://www.msc.org/, ASC Aquaculture Production: http://www.asc-aqua.org/, The Fair Trade Capture Fisheries Standard: http://fairtradeusa.org/certification/standards/download-center , Food Alliance: http://foodalliance.org/shellfish, Friend of the Sea http://www.friendofthesea.org/about-us.asp?ID=9.

Read More

   

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Subcategories

Sea Change Resources

Resources to help everyone make a SeaChange in their life.

About the Project

Sea Change is an EU H2020 funded project that aims to establish a fundamental “Sea Change” in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea, by empowering them, as Ocean Literate citizens, to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet.

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Our Ocean, Our Health

The ocean makes planet Earth a habitable place to live and the marine environment is a source of vital human health benefits.

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Do you Love the Ocean? Show how much you care,
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Consortium

The Sea Change consortium consists of 17 partners from nine different countries, coordinated by the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

This consortium, which comprises nine public research organisations, one SME, five non profit organisations and two higher education institutions, brings together selected experts to collectively provide the knowledge, competence, skills and facilities needed for ensuring a good project development, the achievement of project objectives and the successful delivery of project results.

Contact

  • Phone

    Jon Parr
    Sea Change Coordinator
    +44(0)1752 426479

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  • Email

    Jon Parr
    Sea Change Coordinator
    jpar@mba.ac.uk

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  • Address

    Marine Biological Association
    Citadel Hill,  Plymouth,
    PL1 2PB, United Kingdom

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