Conservation volunteers are a huge part of every ocean conservation effort. Every marine conservation volunteer works in a lot of different ways from beach cleanups to water quality monitoring, and collecting field data. If they're certified scuba divers they may even pull on a mask and wetsuit as part of a fisheries management program.
When it comes to both fishing conservation and fisheries management, many hands make light work. In 2017, conservation volunteers donated over 130,000 hours to the national marine sanctuaries. Their time is the same as 65-full time jobs. That work amounts to over $3,000,000 in cost savings which gets reinvested into other critical areas. 8,523 conservation volunteers spent over 60,000 hours studying scientific issues which are critical for making informed decisions.
In many cases, volunteers can be as young as 15 years of age. A lot of helpful skills don't require scuba certification, either. Videographers, guides, graphic designers and writers are also a tremendous part of the mix. Some groups offer internships which help students fill graduation requirements. Others are as simple as picking up trash from a beach. Some fishing volunteer opportunities require catching fish...and then tagging them properly for future study. That sounds like fun.
With programs located all over the world, a marine conservation volunteer can pick from a wide variety of projects. Some pertain to ocean or water quality studies while others revolve around species which range from whales and sharks on down to gamefish and baitfish. Conservation is a ground-up process, so each part of the ecosystem is studied. That way science-based research results in good decisions.
In 2018, think about donating some of your free time to conservation. With so many different conservation groups and options it's not hard to find a fit. If you're short on time then even donating one day of work is enough. And if we all make a contribution then our oceans and fish will be healthy for a long time to come.