Ocean Conservation: Who Is Helping And How You Can Get Involved

In Fresh Content, Learning by Daniel

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Check out a few of our favorite ocean conservation organizations from around the world - and how you can get involved to help!

ocean conservation

In this article, we discuss some of the leading ocean conservation organizations from around the world, and the work they're doing to preserve the waterways we know and love.


As paddlers, it is a given that we love the oceans, lakes, rivers, and bays of our world.

It’s where we go to connect with nature. Meet up with friends. Have fun paddling. And ultimately where we go to feel alive... 

However, over the last few decades, many of the world’s waterways are slowly in decline. Both in health and in beauty.

This is due to a combination of industrial waste, plastic pollution, and overfishing practices. The combination of these factors ends up destroying the marine environment and harming numerous marine species... 

Luckily, we have seen a proliferation of non-profit groups and organizations building foundations to work on both public and political levels to help create a healthier world... 

If you’re an avid paddler, then you likely want to become involved and contribute to marine conservation. The best way to do it?

Join one of these organizations, donate, and spend time helping their cause either with physical labor or spreading their message...

At Perfect Paddles, we’ve seen the great work these organizations are doing for ocean conservation. And in order to make it easier for you to become involved, we’ve listed a few of our favorites below. 

But before we get to the list and the amazing work they do, we first want to answer the big question, “What’s actually happening to our oceans and waterways?”

What’s Actually Happening To Our Oceans and Waterways

When it comes to climate change, 99% of scientists agree the driving force behind the change is human-created through burning fossil fuels and other damaging actions...

With that said, our intention is not to preach, but instead to discuss the practices humans engage in that damage ecosystems – both large and small... 

Because there are waste byproducts that clearly hurt the world’s oceans, the animals within them, and even ourselves.

To get a better understanding of what's actually happening to our oceans (and other waterways), we’ve broken it down into four main components.

Starting with #1…

Depleted Fish Stocks

Eating fish is good for our health. As a result, a large portion of the world’s population relies on seafood for affordable nutrition... 

But with higher demand comes a need for a higher supply. Instead of fishing done by single-family households for single-family households, commercial fisheries are required to catch as many fish as possible to feed large percentages of the world’s population. Even in areas not close to the shore. 

According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, “Humans extracted more than 81 million tons of fish and seafood from the oceans in 2015, an increase of 1.7 percent compared to 2014. And around 30 percent of global fish stocks are overexploited or have already collapsed; 58 percent are at their limit.”

The worst part? This data is over seven years old!

However, there are organizations around the world working towards implementing more sustainable fishing practices. For example, the Environmental Defense Fund implemented a practice called “fishing rights.”

They explain it, “With smarter management systems, known as fishing rights, we can reverse the incentives that lead to overfishing. Under fishing rights, fishermen's interests are tied to the long-term health of a fishery. Their income improves along with the fish population.”

Does it work? According to them, yes. 

“In Belize, Denmark, Namibia, the United States, and elsewhere, fishing rights have helped transform struggling fisheries. In the Gulf of Mexico, red snapper populations are three times what they were in 2007 when we helped reform that fishery. Over the next five years, we are working to ensure that sustainable fishing is firmly established in the U.S. and other countries.”

While this is still a serious problem, it appears with better management systems in place, the natural fish population can thrive even with feeding the world’s population...

ocean conservation

Ocean Acidification 

Carbon dioxide emissions have increased significantly since the beginning of the industrial revolution. It has to consider the number of fossil fuels we burn on a daily basis. 

So, what does this mean?

The CO2 concentration hasn’t risen higher than about 40%. But that’s not the main issue. 

Much of the damaging effects of CO2 actually end up in the ocean. The CO2 we release into the atmosphere actually ends up dissolving in our waterways increasing the acidity levels of the ocean in the process. 

For example, “In 1870, the average pH of seawater was 8.2; today, it's at 8.1. By 2100, that value is predicted to even become more acidic, dropping to 7.7.”

Doesn’t seem like a big deal though, right? Just 0.1? Maybe, but that small drop corresponds to a 150% increase in acidity.

The result? Many sea creatures aren’t able to cope with the change causing a die-off effect. 

Luckily, as we better understand the results of burning high amounts of fossil fuels, we can better combat the effects. And much of the animal life that is affected can easily survive and thrive once again. To help this process, the organizations below are tackling head-on...

Resource Mining

The Earth is full of valuable resources we rely on to live on a daily basis. This is the case for our computers and phones when it comes to lithium for batteries. As well as gas and diesel burning vehicles including air travel. 

To secure these resources, companies rely on mining. And it’s the mining of these resources that often does more harm than good. 

While the surface of the Earth is destroyed through mining every day, the oceans are looked at as just as valuable when it comes to resource collection. 

Precious metals such as cobalt, nickel, thallium, manganese, and rare earth elements are known to exist underneath the water’s surface. 

And the practice of mining these resources is currently destroying large portions of the biodiversity in our oceans. 


Research shows that areas where these precious metals exist, are also hot spots of biodiversity.

Wherever these metals are mined, the natural wildlife suffers...

ocean conservation

Plastics Everywhere

Plastic is a problem. The product that makes our lives so convenient is drastically hurting our natural waterways. Especially the ocean. 

Much of the plastic bottles, containers, knives, and forks we use every day ends up on our shorelines, polluting coastal areas, and hurting seabirds, turtles, and other wildlife. 

While it’s bad enough when the plastic we use doesn’t decompose, it’s almost worse when it does…

As these pieces of plastic dissolve over time, they end up turning into microplastics, falling on our ocean’s floors, in sea ice at the poles, and even as food for certain species of fish.

Due to this occurrence, we are now seeing microplastics in our own body systems. They have the ability to travel around our systems and become lodged in our organs.

This has been theorized to lead to disease throughout the body including negative effects on the endocrine system, commonly known as the hormone system. It is looking like microplastics lead to a decrease in testosterone in men, a problem we are now seeing worldwide. 

In addition, a recent study found, “that microplastics can latch on to the outer membranes of red blood cells and may limit their ability to transport oxygen. The particles have also been found in the placentas of pregnant women, and in pregnant rats, they pass rapidly through the lungs into the hearts, brains, and other organs of the fetuses.”

Out of all we discussed above, the elimination of plastic is our most dire need. If you can...

Opt for glass or aluminum containers and try not to buy too many plastic containers.

Now let's get to the good news when it comes to ocean conservation...

ocean conservation

Who Is Helping - Organizations for Ocean Conservation

Everything in our world is interconnected. What we do in our own backyard affects the other side of the world. 

Now that we understand what exactly is happening to our waterways around the world, let’s go over who is helping. And how you can become involved. 


Oceana is the largest ocean conservation organizations in the world devoted to marine conservation. As part of its campaigns, Oceana has achieved hundred of concrete policy victories for marine life and natural habitats. Their main focus is on efforts to end major sources of marine pollution such as oil, mercury, aquaculture, and shipping emissions. They also campaign for the protection of vulnerable places in the ocean, including the Arctic, Aleutian Islands, the Mediterranean, and Chile’s Juan Fernandez Islands. 

How to Get Involved:

There are multiple ways to become involved with Oceana. It can be as simple as offering a donation or even requesting plastic-free containers from shipping suppliers such as Amazon. 

You can also work within their advocacy program to bring awareness to certain ocean-based issues such as offshore drilling and overfishing. 

More information can be found HERE.

ocean conservation

WaterKeeper Alliance

They are the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit focused solely on clean water. Their goal is simple – drinkable, fishable, and swimmable water…everywhere. 

They do this through three steps…

The Clean Water Defense through which they advocate for strong environmental regulations. Clean and safe energy where their goal is to end our reliance on diary fossil fuels, coal, oil, and gas. And by battling pollution from industrial farms and their high amounts of waste. 

How to Get Involved:

You can either create your own ocean conservation organization or become an affiliate waterkeeper yourself. They write on their site, “Waterkeeper Alliance holds polluters accountable. We’re the largest and fastest-growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water. We preserve and protect water by connecting and mobilizing more than 300 local Waterkeeper groups worldwide.” 

If you decide to become a waterkeeper, you will receive the full support of the organization in the form of communications/marketing, training, organizing, and advocacy. 

More information can be found HERE.

Pacific Wild

Listen up Pacific Northwest folks – this one is for you! 

Pacific Wild supports the protection of ecosystems that sustain biodiversity throughout the Great Bear Rainforest & the northwest Pacific region.

They do this by preserving certain areas of the region from exploitation and overconsumption. This includes such projects as marine protection, saving the British Columbia wolves, protecting Pacific herring, and increasing the salmon count from overfishing. 

And more! 

How to Get Involved:

The best way to become involved is through a simple donation. This helps the organization stay viable and work towards its goals of preservation. 

In addition, you can support their work by reading their latest articles, purchasing their informative books about the wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, and following along with their latest campaigns. 

For more information, head HERE.


The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.

They work together with powerful networks to reduce plastic, protect the ocean, provide beach access to everyone, and provide clean water and coastal preservation. 

They basically do it all! 

How to Get Involved:

The best way to get involved in their ocean conservation work is by joining one of their chapters. They write on their site, "Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the Surfrider Foundation. Join our network and help us tackle the issues that face our ocean, waves, and beaches. Enter your information below and we'll connect you with the nearest Chapter or Club in your community."

The process is simple. For more information head HERE.

Heal the Bay

Located in Los Angeles, Heal the Bay takes the idea of cleanup to the local community. 

They explain, "Beach and neighborhood cleanups are just the beginning. Heal the Bay staff work to mobilize LA’s diverse communities to protect our coastline, restore our waterways, and speak out for clean water policy across our watersheds."

It's the best way to see ocean conversation work in action!

How to Get Involved:

Donate! Either your time or a small monetary donation will do. Either way, you're providing resources for the local waterways in your area (if you live in LA). Or they put it, "Ripples become waves. When you volunteer with us, your generous time supports ocean and freshwater areas in LA County ensuring they are safe, optimizing how we manage our local water supply, and taking action for equitable access to clean water and green space."

For more information click HERE.

The Ocean Conservancy

The Ocean Conservancy, “is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create evidence-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.”

They work to conserve the ocean and provide evidence-based research on what is causing our most significant issues and how to fix them. 

How to Get Involved:

Volunteer your time and spend the afternoon participating in an ocean conservation clean-up. This year, over 17 million volunteers worked together to pick up plastic and other pollutants from various shorelines worldwide to create a cleaner, healthier environment for its residents and the marine life within the water. 

For more information, head HERE.

ocean conservation

Coral Reef Alliance

Their mission is simple: save the world’s reefs from destruction. They explain further, “For nearly 30 years, we have combined cutting-edge science and community engagement to reduce direct threats to reefs and to promote scalable and effective solutions for their protection.”

Through a global alliance of marine scientists and other specialists, they work together to create solutions for protecting and regrowing our global reefs. 

How to Get Involved:

A simple donation keeps the scientists and other researchers involved in their ocean conservation work, on the cutting edge, allowing them to create solutions for our damaged coral reefs. This is the best way to get involved with the Coral Reef Alliance (unless you are a scientist, researcher, or marine biologist looking for a career in the organization). 

For more information, head HERE.

Plastic Oceans

Their tagline is, “ending plastic pollution and fostering sustainability.” As we discussed above, plastic is the biggest threat, not only to the health of our oceans but to the health of the world’s population. 

As microplastics continue to seep into our waterways and into our own bloodstreams, we will be met with a severe health crisis for the environment and everyone affected. 

The best way to combat it? Clean the ocean of plastic, dispose of it properly, and move away from producing and using plastic products. 

All of which Plastic Oceans is working towards achieving. 

How to Get Involved:

There are three ways you can become involved with this brilliant ocean conservation organization. 

  1. Bring their education and awareness programs to your community, school, or with friends and family.
  2. Join Plastic Oceans global movement. “Think Reusable – Not Disposable” by pledging to refuse single-use plastics.
  3. Donate to Plastic Oceans international to help continue their global and national campaigns aimed at raising awareness and social change by activating millions of people to rethink plastic. 

For more information, head HERE

ocean conservation

Is It Time To Be Involved?

As stand up paddle boarders, it’s up to us to do whatever we can to help the ecosystems of our favorite playgrounds – the waterways. 

Whether it’s your local lake, river, bay, or ocean, if they aren’t thriving and healthy then we won’t be as well. 

How you get involved is of course up to you. Whether you want to donate, join an organization, organize your own cleanup, or simply pick up a piece of plastic whenever you see it on your next paddle, every little bit counts. 

Whatever we do in our hometown, reverberates globally from the smallest act to the largest.

About the Author


Daniel is a travelling author with a passion for exploring new waterways and sharing his experiences with the world.

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