I’ve only seen the ocean a handful of times.
Growing up in a small town in Ontario, I did not visit Canada’s coasts. Most of what I think about when it comes to the ocean has been informed by pictures and movies. So, when I started to become interested in ocean conservation issues, I had to ask myself why? Why should a land-locked girl care about the ocean at all?
If you grew up similar to me, you may be asking this question yourself.
The truth is, we are all connected to the ocean whether we know it or not. The ocean provides at least 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and stores 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. The ocean regulates global temperatures and provides over 3 billion people with seafood as a source of protein. Simply put, we would not exist without the ocean.
While there are plenty more practical reasons for why the ocean should matter to us, my reasons are a little more personal. Though I did not grow up near the ocean, I did spend my summers living on a small lake north of Huntsville, Ontario. My favourite memories growing up include learning to drive a boat with my dad, reading Harry Potter books on the dock, and watching the most stunning sunsets. During August long weekends, our extended family would come stay with us. We would cook enormous meals, compete in canoe races, and watch fireworks over the lake. I leaned many life lessons during those summers and shared a lot of love with friends and family. For all these reasons, I care deeply for this tiny lake, and thus learned all the ways I can help take care of it for years to come.
Perhaps you too are connected to a body of water, just as I am. Whether you are in a Toronto skyscraper overlooking Lake Ontario, kayaking over Lake Louise, or perhaps fishing in a creek that runs through your town. All water can hold special meaning to us; providing a place to make memories with loved ones, relieve stress, and inspire countless works of art. And, most notably, all water is connected to the ocean.
When living inland, it can be easy to think that the ocean conservation issues we hear about do not apply to us. However, no matter where you live, the way you dispose of waste, the energy you consume, and the food choices you make all impact the ocean down the line. What’s more, the same pollution, overexploitation of resources, and habitat destruction that affect your lakes and rivers, are happening on a massive scale off our coasts. The impacts of these issues pose a major risk to both the economy and human health.
I concluded that if I am passionate about protecting the water that I care about most, that tiny lake in Ontario that shaped my upbringing, I must extend my empathy to the wider waters that connect us all. I feel incredibly lucky to live in a country surrounded by three oceans, and home to some of the world’s largest reserves of freshwater. I am driven to protect what I love, and I hope that whether it be the smallest lake or the ocean itself, you feel that same drive to protect the water that matters to you.
When we come together, we can all do our part to conserve ocean ecosystems for generations to come.
What you can do to contribute to ocean conservation and sustainable seafood initiates:
Cook with seafood that cleans and restores our oceans: Cooking for Conservation digital cookbook
Find a shoreline cleanup near you or host your own: Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
Reduce your plastic waste: Ocean Wise Plastic Reduction Program
Guest blog by Ocean Wise Seafood volunteer, Jessie Reynolds
- Photo 1: Marie- Michèle Bouchard, Sourced from UnSplash
- Photo 2: Jessie Reynolds
- Photo 3: Jan Weber, Sourced from UnSplash