When it comes to the restoration of marine ecosystems, the target adopted by the world part of SDG 14 is extremely ambitious: “By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and taking action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans”.
That gives us three years. Since there is no time to waste, we picked the five best websites we could find to help you get informed, get involved, and take action to help make this Target — officially known as “SDG Target 14.2” — come alive.
(Note: we found it hard to stop at five, because so many good websites were linked to organizations based in the US — so we added two bonus sites, to broaden your perspective.)
Oceana, founded in 2001, calls itself “the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation.” They work to protect and restore the world’s oceans through targeted policy campaigns. Since it’s founding (it was created by a group of US-based foundations), Oceana has protected more than one million square miles of oceans (more than 2.5 million square kilometres). Their website is full of tools, videos, even recipes (for sustainable seafood eating) … and of course, opportunities to donate to their campaigns.
The Oceanic Society has a long history, going back to 1969 in California. They support science for conversation, and they also get people involved in ocean issues through nature travel, giving them a direct experience of the importance of the seas. You can also symbolically “adopt” an animal to support research and conservation programs.
Ocean Conservancy is a non-profit environmental advocacy group. They help with formulating ocean policy at the federal and state government levels (in the USA) based on peer reviewed science. They have almost a million registered volunteers and on their webpage you can read more about their solutions and find a regularly updated blog on conservancy issues.
For people who want to know how to work seriously on policy and decision-making, with ecosystems in focus, here is a good first destination: the Coastal-Marine Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network. The EBM network is an alliance of tool users, providers, and researchers. They work to promote the use and development of EBM in coastal and marine environments and the terrestrial environments that affect them. This site will get you oriented to practices like “Marine Spatial Planning,” show you how GIS systems are being used to support better decision-making and more. They also provide a list of projects (mainly US-based) and an exhaustive list of resources.
When it comes to ocean action to save ecosystems, the spectrum of possible actions you can take is wide, ranging from signing online petitions, to attending demonstrations, to the controversial option of direct action. The international non-profit Sea Shepard Conservation Society, established in 1977, is a typical example of the latter option, and they have often been in the centre of media storms. But regardless of whether you agree with their approach or not, it’s worthwhile having a look at what they are doing to promote marine wildlife conservation. Besides, their website is excellent, so it made our Top 5.
Here’s comes the first bonus site. If you are particularly interested in coral reef conservation (and you should be), this is a site to keep in mind for information, but mostly for opportunities to get involved as a volunteer or citizen scientist. Take the Coral Restoration Foundation quiz, pass it, and you can start providing data to them on the state of the coral reefs they are tracking. Given that the declining health of coral reefs is global news, conservation and restoration work is key. This is one way that anybody can make a direct contribution to that work.
Our final bonus site is a well-known name in conservation generally: WWF. We have a bias here: WWF is a client of the AtKisson Group (which sponsors and manages SDG14.net). But we also think WWF does not get enough attention for its work, globally, to save the oceans, and to promote the preservation of ecosystems. WWF is known to the public mostly for its association with “charismatic species”, but it does world-leading policy and research work, and it often works behind the scenes helping to start, facilitate, or otherwise support major international initiatives that have enormous impact. Examples include the Coral Triangle Initiative, the Baltic Ecoregion Programme, and the Northern Mozambique Channel Initiative. It’s worth getting familiar with these less-photogenic aspects of WWF’s work!