Ocean Currents » Open Threads http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:26:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 West Coast Holds Regional Planning Body Kickoff Meeting http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/11/west-coast-holds-regional-planning-body-kickoff-meeting/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/11/west-coast-holds-regional-planning-body-kickoff-meeting/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 14:30:39 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13317

For the past few months, we have talked a lot about ocean planning on the East Coast especially with two regional ocean plans released in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Now, we are excited to share news from the West Coast!

Last month, the West Coast Regional Planning Body (WCRPB), comprised of federal, state and tribal representatives from California, Washington and Oregon as well as the Pacific Fishery Management Council held its first official meeting since signing its charter. On October 26 and 27, I attended the meeting in Portland, Oregon, where dozens of individuals from local, state and federal government, ocean user groups, non-profit organizations, tribes and more came together to start the conversation around a regional, collaborative approach to ocean management.

The National Ocean Council Director Deerin Babb-Brott opened the meeting with encouraging words for the West Coast, underscoring support from the White House and sharing some of the lessons learned from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic ocean planning process. He highlighted the value of a ground-up approach, stressing the importance of stakeholder engagement throughout the entire planning process and the need to think collaboratively as a region. Ensuring proper engagement with a diversity of ocean users groups and the public is critical to a successful planning process. Babb-Brott further urged the WCRPB to embrace the knowledge of the tribes in the region—twelve of which have representatives that sit on the WCRPB.

Ocean planning on the West Coast will build upon state-level planning that is already underway in both Washington and Oregon. The WCRPB will take a sub-regional approach to ocean planning, in an effort to accommodate the large and diverse marine ecosystem from Southern California to the Canadian border. This sub-regional approach highlights a unique factor about regional ocean planning across the country: Each region that decides to create a plan for their ocean can design the plan in a way that meets their region’s current and future needs, while ensuring the plan fits in with existing management structures.

The WCRPB is now focused on three major areas of discussion. They include:

  1. Defining the sub-regions
  2. Identifying regional issues and priorities that the planning process should address
  3. Ensuring data and information is regionally relevant through the West Coast Ocean Data Portal

I applaud the RPB’s collaboration to date and look forward to engaging as they move forward in the process!

Information on the West Coast Regional Planning Body can be found here.

Slides from the October 2016 meeting are available here.

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Big Ocean Wins = Big Opportunities http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/28/trash-has-kept-us-busy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/28/trash-has-kept-us-busy/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:41:56 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13218

This has been a busy season for ocean conservation. 

Last month, we celebrated when President Obama announced the world’s largest marine protected area in Hawaii, which was quickly followed by the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

We then hailed important announcements made at the 2016 Our Ocean conference, including a commitment by Ocean Conservancy and our Trash Free Seas Alliance® partners to raise an additional $2.75 million to improve waste management in rapidly developing economies in Asia Pacific, as well as Dow’s pledge to dedicate $2.8 million to tackle marine debris.

And thousands of you around the world took action to tackle this growing threat to our ocean by joining Ocean Conservancy’s 31st International Coastal Cleanup, where we also launched our new Clean Swell app.

We closed September with an exciting development to keep trash and plastic out of our ocean through a high-level session held in conjunction with an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Tokyo that focused on making waste management projects more financially attractive. The event was co-hosted by the Government of Japan and the U.S. State Department, with the support of China and Russia and additional support from Ocean Conservancy and the Trash Free Seas Alliance®. I was honored to participate in substantive discussions with representatives from major corporations, civil society organizations and government officials. Ocean Conservancy underscored the importance of seeking solutions to marine debris on land, acknowledging that comprehensive, modern waste management systems are critical if we are to succeed in stemming the tide of plastic entering our ocean.

Ocean Conservancy is thankful to have the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to further identify land-based solutions for marine plastic debris in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“It will take action on many fronts to deal with the growing menace of marine pollution,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of GEF. “In collaboration with UNEP, the GEF will invest some $2 million dollars for land-based solutions to ocean plastics as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance® and the New Plastics Economy initiative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This investment will inform an integrated approach of both upstream and downstream pathways for reducing marine debris across the entire plastics supply chain, moving toward a circular economy.”

All of this coupled with forthcoming research from the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, represents an important step toward the goal of reducing plastic waste leaking into the ocean annually by 50% by 2025.

It is important to find hope and celebrate progress. I hope you are as excited by these recent achievements as I am–all of which wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you.

I’d like to end with these words from President Obama, who spoke about global conservation challenges at the Our Ocean conference: “We can solve this problem, we just have to have the will to take collective action.”

Ocean Conservancy has been at the forefront of this global challenge for more than 30 years. Together, we will find and solve the ocean plastic crisis. We’re committed to working with all of you to take action to get to a future of trash free seas.

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Thanks to the Ocean… It’s Like a Mother to Us! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/10/thanks-to-the-ocean-its-like-a-mother-to-us/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/05/10/thanks-to-the-ocean-its-like-a-mother-to-us/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 12:00:33 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10188

Let’s take a moment on Mother’s Day to remember the ocean. Like mothers everywhere, the ocean looks out for us in the most basic ways. It’s easy to take those things for granted. Thanks, Mother Ocean, because you:

Gave us life. Earth scientists believe that the first life on Earth arose in the ocean, which brought together chemicals in a rich “soup” that gave rise to primitive cells. These early life forms evolved and diversified into the myriad organisms that exist today.

Keep us warm. The ocean stores a tremendous amount of heat that regulates the planet’s overall temperature. Ocean currents redistribute heat around the Earth to keep temperatures relatively stable. Not too hot and not too cold, the Earth’s small overall temperature range is critical for our survival.

Keep us fed. 4.3 billion people on Earth get more than 15% of their protein from the ocean. That means that 3-4 servings of protein a week come from seafood for 2 out of 5 humans. Without high-quality protein from seafood, people on every continent would be hungrier and less healthy.

Give us clean water. The ocean stores 97% of the water on the planet. Even though that water is too salty to drink, fresh water evaporates from the ocean into clouds, which release their watery cargo into rivers, lakes and aquifers. This simple process provides the 1% of planetary water that’s fresh and accessible to sustain human life. Without the ocean to bank our water, we wouldn’t have anything to drink or to wash with.

Clean up after us. The ocean sops up about 30% of the carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere. It catches our oil spills, holds hundreds of millions of tons of our plastic trash, and sponges up the pollution we dribble into rivers and streams.

Are always there for us. The ocean as we know it has been in place for 3.8 billion years. It’s been a calm, steady presence throughout all of humans’ awkward ages, stages and conflicts. We often turn to the ocean for soothing and relaxation.

But the ocean isn’t going to be able to clean up after us forever. Just as we learned to clean up after ourselves at Mom’s house, we need to take care of our own messes and keep them out of the ocean.

Doesn’t the ocean deserve a hug today? Click here to support Ocean Conservancy’s efforts to keep the ocean clean and healthy.

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Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/02/swimming-the-strait-of-gibraltar/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/02/swimming-the-strait-of-gibraltar/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 16:31:38 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7043

Bret Barasch Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar

We’re excited to post this guest blog from Bret Barasch. He swam solo across the Strait of Gibraltar and chose Ocean Conservancy as the recipient of his fundraising efforts – thank you! Congrats to Bret on this amazing accomplishment. You can still donate to Bret’s fundraising efforts today.

This past October, I set out to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar. The strait connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco (and Europe from Africa). It’s about 10 miles across, but the strong current that flows in from the Atlantic almost always ensures you’ll end up swimming farther.

A little background on how I got to this point:

While I swam competitively throughout my teen years and even lifeguarded for a few summers on the South Shore of Long Island, N.Y., I really stopped any serious swimming once I got to college. Fast forward about 20 years (without much athletic activity to speak of) and I suddenly had a desire to get back out there and get active again (like triathlons or something). Knowing my swimming background, a friend sent me a link to the Top 100 Open Water Swims around the world.

Going through the list and all the different types of swims, I knew I had found something challenging. While I was never a distance swimmer in my younger years, I felt that with the proper training, I just might be able to do this.

I started my training in May of this year and slowly increased the distance of my swims from about two miles all the way up to eight miles come September. (In retrospect, I wish I had trained a bit more, because the conditions on the day of my swim turned out to be more difficult than expected… more on that later).

Doing my research for the swim (including blogs of other swimmers who had successfully crossed the strait), I came across lots of interesting information. First off, due to the fact that the strait is a very busy shipping lane with many container ships, the association that oversees the swim only allows one cross per day. That cross can be a solo attempt (like mine) or as a relay team. Also, due to the varying weather conditions (fog, current, wind, waves, etc.), each swimmer gets a window of one week to pick the best day to make their attempt.

Luckily, the marine life in the strait tends to be friendly with dolphins and pilot whales being the most common.

I arrived in Tarifa, the southernmost town on the Spanish mainland, a couple of days before my window. All of the forecasts pointed to the best conditions early in the week, so I was told within 24 hours of arriving that I’d be going ‘first thing tomorrow’ on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

I arrived at the dock the next morning at 7:30 to meet my boat crews. Due to regulations with the maritime authorities, each swimmer (or relay team) must have a guide or lead boat that charts the best route for the swimmer to follow, as well as a safety boat that just focuses on the safety of the swimmer.

We headed out from the marina just before sunrise, with the sky still a very dark blue. About two minutes before I was to jump in the water and swim to the Spanish coast for the start, the safety boat had a fuel line problem and the engine wouldn’t restart. The boat had to head back to the dock for quick repairs. (In hindsight, I’m actually grateful this happened when it did, instead of half an hour into my swim!) The fuel line was quickly fixed and it was back out to the start. This time, I swam to the coast and waited for the whistle to begin.

I will not bore you with the play-by-play of a six-hour-plus swim, but I will tell you that the first half went… well… swimmingly. I had reached the halfway point of the strait in a little less than three hours and was feeling good.

During the course of my research, I discovered that the perceived wisdom was to stop every 45 minutes for a ‘fuel’ break (electrolyte drink, energy goo, etc.). During these breaks, I wasn’t allowed to touch the boat, but they could throw me the drinks and goo packs, which I would consume while treading water. In my training, my breaks were two minutes long, but due to the strength of the current, I was constantly being encouraged to not stop longer than 30 seconds (which felt like the blink of an eye).

As I continued toward the Moroccan coast, I noticed the waves getting larger, the current getting stronger and, most worryingly, the temperature of the water starting to drop.

The last two miles were the toughest and I quickly realized why I was struggling so much. My safety boat captain informed me that due to the increased strength of the current, I had already swum 13 miles (about two more than I had planned for the entire swim) and with all the combined factors working against me, and my body weakening, I was questioning whether I could finish.

The best analogy I can come up with is if you were running a marathon and then unexpectedly had the last six miles up hill and in brutal heat (‘unexpectedly’ being the key word).

I decided to skip my last break and just put my head down and finish. Somehow I made it through and I was able to reach the Moroccan coast in 6 hours, 26 minutes (having swum a total distance of 13.5 miles). I remember the mixed feelings very well – physically my body close to broken, but mentally an amazing sense of euphoria, knowing I had just swam from one continent to the other.

As with any event like this, I wanted to choose a worthy cause to raise money for and I decided on Ocean Conservancy. Its mission, and inspired yet practical way of achieving it, resonated with me and seemed to fit with my swim perfectly.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me through this great adventure. It’s been an amazing and truly humbling experience.

Bret Barasch Reaching the Moroccan Coast


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Ocean Conservancy Wants to Hear from You http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/ocean-conservancy-wants-to-hear-from-you/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/ocean-conservancy-wants-to-hear-from-you/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 21:23:28 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1385

Credit: peterjr1961 flickr stream

Earlier this month, Ocean Conservancy marked an exciting new chapter in its 40-year history. The staff celebrated our former President and CEO Vikki Spruill’s 16 years of service to ocean conservation as she embarked on a new career in philanthropy. And we have welcomed Janis Searles Jones as Ocean Conservancy’s Interim President and CEO while the Board of Directors undertakes a national search for a new one. Jones will continue to lead Ocean Conservancy’s conservation programs as she has for the past few years, providing visionary leadership in our work to protect the ocean for future generations.

As we mark the turn of this new chapter, we are proud of all that we’ve recently accomplished:

  • Helping ensure that the Gulf of Mexico finally gets the essential funding needed to restore its ecosystem and communities following the BP oil spill disaster,
  • Working with nearly 600,000 volunteers across the country to collect 9 million pounds of trash from our shores and waterways,
  • Completing a decade-long campaign to establish a statewide network of marine protected areas in California, and
  • Ensuring additional science to inform decisions about oil spill prevention and better protection for critical habitats and other important ecological areas in Arctic waters.

Despite this litany of successes and good work, we are seeing new challenges to the health of our ocean every day. We’d love to know what you, our supporters, care about.



Thank you for your feedback and continued support.

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