This post originally appeared on National Geographic’s Ocean Views blog.
During this bruising presidential campaign, there was an eerie sense that we had moved into a post-truth world, with fake news circulating on Facebook and the veracity of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump continually called into question. In fact, Oxford Dictionaries just declared “post-truth” its 2016 international Word of the Year.
But for me personally, facts really matter. It’s why I’m a scientist.
Last week, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation approved nearly $370 million in new projects to help the Gulf of Mexico recover from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Among these new projects is Mississippi’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Recovery and Monitoring Program, a nearly $10 million, five-year project. This is the largest sea turtle or dolphin recovery project funded by any one state in the six years since the BP oil disaster began, and Ocean Conservancy is thrilled to see Mississippi investing in the health of the Gulf’s marine life.
Mississippi has a small coast, but it has felt the effects of the BP oil disaster on its shores. From 2010-2014, a record number of more than 1,100 marine mammals were stranded on beaches all across the Gulf Coast. The bottlenose dolphin population in Mississippi Sound is expected to take 40-50 years to recover. And an estimated 61,000 to 173,000 sea turtles were killed during the BP oil disaster. These long-lived species will need the help of projects like Mississippi’s to fully recover.
As we ease into the holiday season, I am grateful to have been part of an amazing event halfway around the world where I witnessed the positive energy and impact that can only arise when we work together. It was a powerful reminder of how our ocean brings us together.
As part of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program, I went to Hong Kong for our first-ever International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Asia Pacific coordinators meeting. As you may know, the International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest volunteer effort on behalf of the ocean and collectively, partners from around the world have kept 100 million tons of trash out of our ocean in the past three decades. The Asia Pacific region is where much of the world’s ocean trash originates, and Ocean Conservancy was eager to learn from our partners on the front lines.
The film crew records an exciting moment on the Miss Britt II.
Last week, two filmmakers and I went to South Florida to document how ocean acidification can touch communities, like Miami’s, that don’t depend heavily on shellfish harvests. Known for its marine life, beaches, coral reefs and sunny weather, Miami and much of Florida rely on these natural assets to drive the local fishing and tourist industry. Coral reefs are the key link, because they provide habitat for vast numbers of fish—including many of the sport fish that make Florida’s charter fishing industry a must-visit for thousands of tourists each year.
This guest blog was written by Jay Manning. Mr. Manning is a Partner at Cascadia Law Group, an environmental firm in Washington state. He was formerly the Director of Washington’s Department of Ecology and Governor Christine Gregoire’s Chief of Staff.
A funny thing happened at a meeting this week in Marrakech. Countries from around the world are meeting to decide how they will implement the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. In December last year, 195 countries agreed to aggressive targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and limit global warming. As the COP22 meeting began, our country, which has been a crucial player and leader in the fight against climate change, elected Donald J. Trump as President.
While U.S. elections are always followed with interest from other countries, Marrakech COP22 attendees struggled this week to understand what happened with regard to the U.S. election and what it means for global efforts to tackle the already formidable challenge to reduce emissions, transition to a clean energy economy and maintain the health of our ocean and marine life. The president-elect has said that global warming is a hoax, has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, and has appointed a climate change skeptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team. But despite these worrying signs, a true rainbow coalition of attendees from every corner of the planet quickly rallied and moved to a mindset of determination to unite, move forward and make progress.
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.
You may have heard coral reefs called “the rainforests of the sea,” but did you know they could also be called the “speed bumps of the ocean?” Not only do coral reefs host an estimated 25% of ocean species, but they also slow down and shrink waves that approach land. This keeps hundreds of millions of people safe and dry around the world. At the same time, coral reefs also offer these coastal dwellers many opportunities—for nutrition, their livelihoods and income based on coral reef-area fishing or tourism.