Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life

Ever wondered where your beautiful hair accessories or coral jewellery have come from?

You guessed it…from our amazing reefs.

While many of us are familiar with the risks to the Great Barrier Reef such as climate change, pollution and dredging, there are other human-related activities that have significant effects.

A proportion of marine habitat destruction and population decline is due to commercial and otter trawl operations (fishing) on the reef. Exploitation of marine corals, turtles, shells, sea cucumbers and starfish not only decreases their numbers, it also disrupts the fragile ecosystem through destruction of surrounding habitats in the process of gathering items for sale. A report released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority also identified 11 species of shark and ray that were assessed as having a high risk from otter trawl operations.

So what products am I talking about and what are some things you can do to help?

Products the exploit marine life include:

-        coral jewellery

-        tortoiseshell hair accessories

-        starfish and shell related trinkets

-        shark products

- fish, crustacean and seas cucumbers from unsustainable or illegal operations

Some fun and sustainable ideas to help protect the reef are:

Sustainable DIY jewellery and hair accessories - I like to reuse beads from old jewellery to make new revamped earrings, or you could opt for wooden or paper beads. I have even been know to take pieces off old computer parts and use them to create pendants or earrings! You can also buy the metal component of hair clips and attach anything you like, such as beads, buttons or material creations made from old or off cuts of fabric.

Take photos not momentos - Many tourist shops offer items from the reef for sale. Capture your memories of the Great Barrier Reef on film, not in real life. You can make this fun for the family by making it a competition to see who can get the best photo!

Research before you buy your fish - Avoid purchasing all shark products and fish products where there is no information stating the sustainability of operations. Companies should provide easily accessible information regarding compliance with ensuring sustainable fish stocks, using sustainable methods of fishing that reduce the trapping of other animals and the areas in which they operate.

When I was a little girl I used to love visiting the beach, collecting shells and exploring the rock pools for ‘treasures’. It was only when I was older that I began to understand the importance of every minuscule part of an ecosystem that allows it to flourish in times of abundance and adapt to survive in times of hardship. Please do your part for the reef and remember to avoid purchasing items that exploit marine life.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @Chatonnoir

Read more on this topic:

Make Safe and Sustainable Seafood Choices


Has the Australian Government gone mad?


Join us in taking practical action on dangerous climate change through the way that we live, the choices we make and the way we spend our money.