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.
“We the People of the United States, in order to form more perfect protection of our ocean…”
Let’s take a break from election coverage and come together as one nation in love with the ocean.
Regardless of our politics, we can all agree that the ocean is important. From sea to shining sea, we depend on the ocean for our food supply, the air we breathe, our economy and our ability to protect our shores against storms. That’s why I’m asking you to show your ocean pride and vote for the future of the ocean today.