If you like travelling to coastal places, you’re likely looking for ocean-friendly travel options. There are many ways you can reduce the impact of your visit to a beach, coastal city, or other seaside destination. Sustainable travel looks different depending on the people and destinations. But no matter where you go, education, awareness, practical measures, and unique experiences will give you a whole new perspective on your destination.

Educate Yourself

Before starting your ocean-friendly trip, gather information about ocean conservation. We know for instance that plastics often end up in lakes and oceans. Yet many travellers –– even those who try to be eco-conscious –– contribute to this problem without meaning to. That’s because plastics are not always obvious. in the acclaimed book “Plastic Soup” environmentalist Michiel Roscam explains that reducing the use of plastic may not be as simple as people might think. Some health and beauty products contain microplastics such as microbeads. While Microbeads have been banned in many countries they are still be found in products. And many of the comfortable fabrics we wear when travelling contain microplastics. This is a good example of how awareness of a problem can lead you to be more careful.

Research Local Conservation Efforts

A single destination may contain multiple unique ecosystems. Research the conservation efforts at your destination, to understand how you can help. You may also learn about innovative environmental solutions in the area. For example, Elizabeth Kolbert writes about researchers from Australia are working on developing a coral capable of surviving under higher temperatures in her Pulitzer-winning book “Under A White Sky.”

False Creek, where the Vancouver Maritime Museum is located, is home to an interesting conservation effort. Local First Nations are working with scientists to hang nets for herring to spawn in. Herring is an important food species for Pacific salmon.

Now, you needn’t be involved these measures on your visit. But awareness is a part of becoming an eco-conscious traveller. And the more we all learn about preservation efforts, the better.

Practice Basic Responsibility

There are many practical ways to ensure that your presence in an area won’t have a direct negative effect on the ocean. You can pack a reusable bottle rather than buying water containers. You can buy sustainable hygiene products upon arrival rather than packing travel-sized items that will likely end up as pollutants. Every bit helps!

If you’re heading out on the water at any given destination, investigate which habits or activities will be least disruptive to local marine life. A University of Washington study a few years back concluded that orcas in the Puget Sound are bothered by the sound of fast-moving boats far more so than the presence of large boats. If you rent or charter a boat in the Pacific Northwest you can act responsibly by keeping speeds low.

Participate Locally

Communities that live close to bodies of water have a special relationship with the sea and understand better than anyone the importance of protections. Residents grow up learning how to fish and boat responsibly, and they avoid polluting. They also learn how to maintain coastal areas efficiently and ethically.

There are fun ways to get to know the local maritime culture. You can stroll the  Heritage Harbour at the Vancouver Maritime Museum for free. Locals boat owners meet regularly at the dock to work on their vessels and sometimes on the dock itself. By participating in maritime activities, you may get to know the relationship between locals and the ocean. And you’ll come to understand conservation and sustainability needs on a deeper and more personal level.

Written exclusively for the Vancouver Maritime Museum

by Angie Clover