By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
As the world celebrates Earth Day 2021, the volunteers at ODA do so every day of the year.
Even though the press shines their bright lights on the environment on this day, there are millions of us doing our part to change the world for the better, right in our own backyards and waterways.
I’ve been active in ocean conservation for nigh on 40 years, since 1982. The kelp forests of California had been devastated by warming waters and we lost roughly 90% of the kelp that year. I joined a small group of divers with the Marine Forest Society, and we experimented in ways to get kelp to come back.
While it didn’t yield the results we were hoping for, it showed me that if you don’t at least try something absolutely nothing will get done.
Fast forward to 2000, and a diverse group of people got together to see if we could do something about all the abandoned fishing gear we were seeing on our local dives in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Move again to 2021 and we now are finding out that abandoned fishing gear is a HUGE problem throughout the world’s oceans. While ODA can’t hope to tackle all that gear, we’re still going strong in Southern California, and since 2016, in Hawaii.
We recently purchased an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle). This is a new tool for us to use in our search for ghost gear.
Just yesterday, Wednesday, Jeff Connor, Al Laubenstein, and Dave Merrill joined me on our boat LegaSea, and we headed out where we had seen some traps set near Pt. Fermin, off San Pedro. Here's Dave initiating the first launch...
We wanted to test our skills by trying to get the ROV close enough to those traps to see what might be in them. We struggled to navigate our way to them, and decided we need to get our driving skills better refined before we can fully utilize this new technology.
Like all ocean activists, you can’t let one step backwards deter you from moving forward the next time.
ODA has a big spring and summer ahead of us as we’ve got good info on the location of abandoned lobster traps to recover in protected marine areas off the coast of Ventura. ODA-Hawai’i has monthly outings to clean coral reefs, harbor cleanups, and much more in store.
I hope all of you who read this take heart, never give up. The earth and the oceans need our individual help more than ever. Help out in any way you can. Whether it be joining an existing organization or taking the initiative to start your own. If you feel passionate about an issue that bothers you, don’t sit back and complain… get out there and make a difference!
Your fellow Earth & Ocean defender,
If you’re like us and want to see the ocean be debris-free, please take action for this special day by donating and you’ll be part of the ocean cleanup movement!