Saving the Planet, One New Year’s Resolution at a Time

Fabien Cousteau free dives with a Humpback WhaleJanuary 13, 2011

The beginning of a New Year is always a time to reflect on the past and set ambitious goals for the upcoming year. When making your New Year’s resolutions, did you add a few environmentally friendly practices you can follow all year to help save our water planet?

Ocean Futures Society is dedicated to helping provide you with the tangible solutions, resources and ideas that will help guide you to take personal responsibility in ensuring long-term protection of our life-support system, the oceans.

We at Ocean Futures Society would like to take this opportunity to suggest a few resolutions to add to your list for the New Year. These simple yet valuable actions can guide us all toward a more sustainable future.

OFS Director of Photography Matthew Ferraro's SCUBA mask after filming in the oilLet me begin with petroleum and the benefits of reducing our dependence on it. I am surprised at how quickly the media moved away from what we all witnessed this past year, the largest oil spill in US history. The Gulf Oil Spill is a sobering reminder of our daily dependence on a non-renewable energy source- fossil fuels. It is unfortunate that it takes catastrophe for us to notice the true consequences of our actions; but now we have the opportunity to be more proactive and build the environmental legacy we want to leave for future generations. We need to take immediate personal responsibility for our consumption of fossil fuels and make daily efforts to reduce it, whether by walking, carpooling, buying local, being energy efficient in all aspects of our lives or reducing our consumption of unnecessary goods. We need to use creative innovations and support companies that are researching and implementing renewable energy solutions.Remember, nature works for free!

The US government’s most recent report from 1/11/11 concludes the oil industry was plagued by systemic problems leading up to the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Without immediate policy changes or major reforms enacted by the government and industry, these problems will lead to another accident in the near future. We need to be proactive and ask for change, but it all starts with individual…you and me.

Jean-Michel Cousteau walks the littered beaches of the Northwestern Hawaiian IslandsPetroleum, in addition to being our largest source of energy, is used in the manufacturing of plastics. The amount of plastic that will be manufactured in the next ten years will nearly equal the total produced in the 20th century. Plastic is vital to many aspects of our lives but is also a major contributor to marine pollution, and the impacts of plastics on marine species and ecosystems are largely unknown. While OFS supports many scientific studies on the impact of marine debris, we strongly advocate taking immediate action to minimize single use, disposable plastic items in our daily lives. Using reusable shopping bags and buying locally made and grown products are two of the simplest actions people can take everyday to stem the tide on plastic pollution in the ocean.

Junk the junk mail. The average person receives 11 pieces of junk mail per week, or 560 pieces a year (and the average person wastes 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail). That amounts to 4.5 million tons of junk mail each year with most going to the landfill unopened! This totals approximately 100 million trees being cut down, which equates to more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars. Join in OFS in taking a quick, easy step in reducing your junk mail by joining

2010 ended with a monumental decision made by the California State Fish and Game Commission to establish more Marine Protected Areas along the Southern California. We may still be over 100 years behind in marine conservation compared to the establishment of protected areas on land; but we need to congratulate those leaders who are being proactive in setting aside areas of the marine environment to ensure healthy fish populations and provide recreational hotspots for us all to appreciate and enjoy.

Bluefin TunaOverfishing is causing fisheries to crash all around the world. By using your Seafood Watch Guide, you are supporting fisheries that are well- managed, sustainable and using fishing practices that are not damaging to the environment. In this New Year, may we all appreciate and respect where our seafood comes from and value the decisions of governments and policymakers to create more marine protected areas, protecting hot spots of diversity and the breeding grounds and nurseries of harvestable species. It is a win/win situation for all species great and small, as well as those of us who enjoy the rich protein source from the sea.

Whenever I make a choice, I will do my best to ask myself two questions:

"What are the consequences of this choice that I'm making?"


"Will this choice help ensure the long-term protection of our water planet?”

We ask you to make the same pledge for the New Year. As you look upon the New Year with a renewed, fresh perspective, we hope you will re-evaluate your daily lifestyle and consider even more sustainable alternatives. Over the next 365 days, even little changes will add up to make a big difference!

May this be the year we make ocean conservation a top priority in all aspects of our society, from government to industry to local communities. It all starts with the individual…one New Year’s resolution at a time. We appreciate and value your support. May we all remember, protecting the ocean is protecting ourselves.


All the best in 2011,


First Photo: Suspended in liquid blue, Fabien free-dives near an adult humpback. “The core of your body vibrates with the songs of other humpback whales in the distance…from the tips of your fins all the way up through your body. It’s awe-inspiring.” This image was photographed under the authority of NMFS Permit No. 642-1536-01 issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Second Photo: OFS Director of Photography Matthew Ferraro's SCUBA mask after filming the first oil coming into the Louisiana marshes on May 19, 2010. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society

Third Photo: Jean-Michel Cousteau walks a litter-strewn beach on Laysan Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. © Nancy Marr, Ocean Futures Society

Fourth Photo: Bluefin tunas that can weigh as much as a thousand pounds are auctioned in the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. These endangered fish can fetch up to $100,000 a piece. Though many countries are fighting to protect them, these fish continue to be fished towards extinction. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society