What You Can Do: Grassroots Coral Reef Conservation
Don’t think you can make a difference in coral reef conservation because you are only one person or you live far from a reef? Think again!
Even if you live far from coral reefs, you can still have an impact on reef health and conservation; there is now a greater need than ever to ensure this impact is positive. Here are some things YOU can do:
- Educate yourself about why healthy coral reefs are valuable to the people, fish, plants, and animals that depend on them.
- Become an informed consumer and learn how your daily choices like water use, recycling, the seafood you eat, selection of vacation spots, fertilizer use, and how much you drive can positively (or negatively) impact the health of coral reefs.
- Find out about existing and proposed laws, programs, and projects that could affect the nation’s coral reefs (or reefs in your area if this applies to you).
- Remember to vote at the polls and with your dollars.
- If you contribute to charities, consider making this year’s donation to an environmental organization that protects reefs.
- Dive into action by volunteering for a fish count or a beach or reef cleanup.
There are also many things you can do to ensure that you are environmentally conscious when you visit coral reefs or coastal areas. For example:
- Hire local guides to support the local economy, respect local regulations, never anchor on a reef unless there is a mooring buoy, and support reef friendly businesses.
- Choose to buy souvenirs that do not include the products of reef organisms like shells or coral.
- If you dive, snorkel, fish, or participate in other water recreation, make sure that you do it responsibly.
- Never touch, feed, or harass the wildlife and ensure that you do not leave garbage behind. Better yet, go a step beyond and remove trash left by others!
Approximately 89.3 million people vacation and recreate along U.S. coasts every year. In 2000-2001, the artificial and natural reefs off the four-county area of Southeast Florida alone supported approximately 77,000 people daily for recreational diving, fishing, and viewing activities. If these reef users are uninformed or irresponsible, they can, and often do, contribute greatly to the stresses already present in a reef system. Just think of the positive steps that could be achieved if each of these visitors changed even one of their behaviors to be reef-aware. Change starts with you!
Finally, stay informed and spread the word! Your excitement will help get others involved.