Ocean Currents http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:57:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Restoring Endangered Coral Reefs http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/28/restoring-endangered-coral-reefs-2/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/28/restoring-endangered-coral-reefs-2/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:19:31 +0000 Julia Roberson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12530

With mass coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef making headlines all over the world this summer, we wanted to check in with Tripp Funderburk of Coral Restoration Foundation to learn how corals in our part of the ocean are faring.

First, what is the big deal about coral reefs?  

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. They provide three-dimensional habitat for an astonishing variety of plants and animals. While they occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs support more than 25% of all marine life. They also shelter shorelines from storms and erosion, and provide food and jobs for coastal communities dependent on tourism and fishing.

How are coral reefs in the United States and the Caribbean faring? 

Stressors such as climate change, ocean acidification, diseases, overfishing, sedimentation, and pollution threaten coral reefs around the world.  Over the last 40 years, coral reefs around Florida and throughout the Caribbean have become degraded due to a multitude of these and other stressors, but the largest decline occurred after the outbreak of White Band Disease in the late 1970s and the die-off of the long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) due to an unknown pathogen in 1983. NOAA has found that elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (Acropora cervicornis), two previously dominant, reef-building corals, have declined between 92-97% since the 1970s, and both are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Without these fast-growing, keystone species, Caribbean coral reefs are deteriorating, and the fisheries, wave-protection, and tourism generated by healthy reefs are at risk.

Can these corals be saved? 

We’re working on that at Coral Restoration Foundation, here in Key Largo, Florida. We are involved in education, research and monitoring, as well as active reef restoration projects. For example, in our coral tree nurseries, we grow elkhorn, staghorn and other corals and are able to outplant them back onto degraded reefs. Our nurseries serve as an ark to preserve the genetic diversity of endangered corals and re-establish healthy coral thickets that are capable of sexual reproduction.

Is it working? 

Coral Restoration Foundation currently has five coral tree nurseries in Florida that house more than 40,000 corals. In 2015 alone, more than 22,000 corals were outplanted throughout the Florida Keys with the help of volunteer divers. This kind of project, which NOAA calls “population enhancement” or “restocking,”  is part of the Recovery Plan released by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service last year.

The structure of the Florida Reef Tract still exists, but the live coral cover and three-dimensional habitat that elkhorn and staghorn provide is declining. Because Acropora colonies are now scarcer, they may be too far apart for high fertilization success during spawning events.  Our organization is working to fill in these gaps by creating healthy thickets of genetically diverse coral that can sexually reproduce and encourage natural recovery. We have found great success with our methods and are continuously monitoring to track the health of our outplanted colonies.

How can I get involved? 

The Recovery Plan for elkhorn and staghorn corals provides a blueprint for restoring degraded reefs, but it won’t be implemented without funding and support from Congress, the Administration, and the public. Coral Restoration Foundation and Ocean Conservancy are working together to create the support and political will to implement the actions outlined in the Recovery Plan. If you would like to join our effort to support the Recovery Plan or learn more about our restoration efforts, visit coralrestoration.org or email info@coralrestoration.org.

Coral Restoration Foundation is a nonprofit ocean conservation organization working to restore coral reefs, educating others on the importance of our oceans, and using science to further research and monitoring techniques.

Tripp Funderburk is the Director of Policy for the Coral Restoration Foundation.  Mr. Funderburk previously worked in government relations with the Livingston Group and the Washington Group, and served as a legislative assistant for Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston.

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Senator Hirono Speaks Up for Coral Reefs http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/27/senator-hirono-speaks-up-for-coral-reefs/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/27/senator-hirono-speaks-up-for-coral-reefs/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:17:54 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12487

Written by Hawaiian Senator Mazie K. Hirono

Last month, 2,500 people from 97 countries flew to Hawaii–not for vacation, but to address the international crisis facing coral reefs around the world.

Participating in the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, these world leaders, scientists, activists and students issued a powerful call to action to address the growing threat of coral bleaching around the world.

Failing to take action now will have increasingly profound consequences in the future because the health of coral reef ecosystems are not only critical for the health of our environment, but also for our economy. And as we celebrate National Coral Week, we have the opportunity to amplify the voices of advocates like Dr. Robert Richmond and Dr. Ruth Gates in Hawaii to ensure these vital ecosystems receive the attention they deserve.

Coral reefs are essential to our oceans and environment, especially in island and coastal communities. In my home state of Hawaii, more than 640 square miles of coral reefs surround the main Hawaiian Islands–more than the total landmass of the island of Oahu. Our reefs are home to more than a quarter of the world’s marine life, including thousands of species that are only found in the Islands.

Protecting our reefs is not just an environmental issue. It is an economic imperative. When coral reef ecosystems are healthy, they drive a tremendous amount of economic activity. In Hawaii, our reefs generate nearly $800 million for local businesses every year. Worldwide, coral reefs generate more economic activity than any other type of ecosystem.

Unfortunately, our coral reefs are under severe stress from coral bleaching and other environmental threats. There have only been three major coral bleaching incidents recorded in history–and two of them occurred in the last two years. These rare events are likely to become only more common as ocean temperatures continue to rise.

As an island state, Hawaii is particularly susceptible to the economic impact of coral bleaching. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that last year’s bleaching event killed 90 percent of West Hawaii Island coral colonies.

We must work together to break this cycle and to promote healthy coral reef ecosystems both in Hawaii and around the world. It has recently been found that approximately a third of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef are also dead or dying as a result of the current bleaching event.

Unfortunately, there is a disconnect in Washington between what scientists know and what Congress is willing to do to address this environmental crisis. Too many of my colleagues in Congress deny basic science when making national policy. To them, global warming is a myth, and climate change and the rising temperature and acidity of our oceans have no impact on the lives of everyday Americans.

We know this is fundamentally untrue, but we can’t just count on these members coming to their senses. We have to dedicate ourselves to the hard work it will take to educate policymakers and other naysayers to change their views.

While there’s much we can do to address this problem, earlier this year I introduced legislation to spark innovation in coral reef health research. My bill would direct federal agencies and the private sector to team up in offering a competitive prize to stimulate innovative solutions to protect our reefs.

I’m also working to build consensus in both parties for additional action. For example, I led a bipartisan letter to the Obama Administration to make sure our nation’s leaders are paying attention to the crisis facing our coral reefs, and urge the Administration to take action on new solutions to preserve, sustain, and restore coral reef ecosystems.

As a member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, I will continue to be a strong advocate for science-based policies that protect our environment, grow our economy, and address climate change. Protecting our coral reefs requires all of us to put our heads together–scientists, policymakers, technology developers, etc. to create solutions so that future generations can enjoy healthy, vibrant ocean environments.

Mazie K. Hirono was elected to the Senate in 2012 and sworn in as Hawaii’s first female senator and the country’s first Asian-American woman senator. Hirono’s priority is to ensure that every American family has the opportunity to work and succeed. 

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Mid-Atlantic Ocean Users Tell Congress to Support the New Ocean Action Plan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/26/mid-atlantic-ocean-users-tell-congress-to-support-the-new-ocean-action-plan/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/26/mid-atlantic-ocean-users-tell-congress-to-support-the-new-ocean-action-plan/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 19:17:06 +0000 Katie Morgan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12514

What do recreational fishermen, research scientists, commercial shipping representatives, conservationists and renewable energy developers have in common? They’ve all come together at a common table to address important decisions being made about our ocean thanks to ocean planning.

Two weeks ago, over 20 ocean users from the five Mid-Atlantic states came to Washington, D.C., to talk about the recently released Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan with Members of Congress and the National Ocean Council at the White House.

These individuals came to D.C. with a simple message: the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan was released July 5th, and it will provide real benefits to our ocean, the states, and ocean industries. It offers a seat at the decision-making table for ocean users across the region and seeks to proactively identify ocean uses and resolve conflicts before they become problematic. They asked members of Congress to support the plan, and to support their respective industries’ roles in the planning process.

Over the course of two days, these ocean users met with 36 members of Congress and the National Ocean Council to talk about the benefits smart ocean planning has brought to the region and will continue to bring. This visit was a celebration of the hard work the region has put in to the planning process, and also a chance to discuss with federal leaders the significance of this ocean plan. They requested support for the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan and the efforts of ocean users like themselves who have been invested in this collaborative process with the goal of making better, more informed ocean use decisions.

What did the Participants Have to Say?

What were some of the takeaways for the people who came down from the region, and what does planning mean to different ocean sectors? Check out what some of the individuals that attended the D.C. fly-in last week had to say:

“It used to be that if we wanted to address an issue we, as fishermen, had to go to each agency individually: Coast Guard, Department of Defense, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and often we were left out of discussions. Ocean planning gives us a platform to participate in these discussions—this is an absolutely wonderful idea. We’ll be able to comment early in the process on vital issues regarding fishing and habitat. We’ll be able to address emerging issues such as the impacts of climate change on fishing and sand mining.”

— Jeff Deem, a recreational fisherman who serves on the Stakeholder Liaison Committee with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body.

“Before ocean planning the recreational boating industry was ‘invisible’ to state and federal resource managers. But we represent 185,000 registered recreational boats in Maryland. When I was learning to sail in the Chesapeake a container ship captain once told me your little sailboat is invisible to me, don’t get close to me because I can’t see you. As a recreational fisherman you may have an idea where you want to fish that day, but the fish move, so the recreational boats move. Having this one-stop-shop data portal is vital because we can see where the ships are going.”

— Susan Zellers, Executive Director of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland

“Ocean planning is the most efficient and cost-effective platform for balancing commerce and conservation. It provides stakeholders an opportunity to identify their use of the ocean common grounds, while seeing how other uses might impact their activity.  Through ocean planning, any potential conflicts can be identified and diffused.”

— Carleen Lyden-Kluss, Executive Director of New York Maritime, Inc.

“Ocean planning is good business. What any business investor looks for is a way of reducing risk and increasing the probability that the project will go through. Ocean planning brings stakeholders together and reduces risks and increases certainty. We know we’re not the only kid on the block. We are committed to siting windfarms responsibility. We want to share our project plans and data, vet and test projects before other ocean users. We want their feedback. Ocean planning gives us the forum to do that.”

— Paul Rich, Director of Project Development at U.S. Wind

“Commercial shipping is undergoing an extremely dynamic period of change. We’re seeing global market fluctuation, larger ships, regulation, and growing commerce coupled with port and canal expansions. All these influences combined continually change routes and operations. Our members value ocean planning because it gives them a voice in decision-making and the opportunity to work together through agency commitments outlined in the ocean plans. We have already seen the benefits of this collaboration in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.”

— Sean Kline, Director of Maritime Affairs at the Chamber of Shipping of America.

What’s Next?

On July 5th, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) released the draft Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan. They will welcome comments for 60 days, through September 6th. We encourage you to check out our blog on the plan release, and read through the plan for yourself! If you are inspired, we also encourage you to submit your comments on the plan.

Learn more about the Mid-Atlantic ocean planning process at the RPB’s website and their Regional Ocean Assessment, a great resource they put together during the planning process.


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Corals are Like… What?! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/25/corals-are-like-what/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/25/corals-are-like-what/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2016 13:30:33 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12444

This week we’re celebrating all things coral! It’s no secret that coral reefs are spectacular ecosystems, but we wanted to do a deep dive into what exactly makes corals so special. Check out nine ways corals are even cooler than you thought:

1)  Corals are like speed bumps. They slow down waves and lessen wave energy. This protects coastlines from hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis. Coral reefs protect the shoreline in 81 countries around the world, sheltering the 200 million people living along those coasts.

2)  Corals are like nurseries. They provide homes and hiding places for marine animals large and small. An estimated 25% of all fish species call reefs home, and even more fish species spend part of their young lives there. Losing reefs to ocean warming or acidification costs animals their homes.

3) Corals are like history books. Corals’ hard calcium carbonate skeletons contain bands, like tree rings, that record environmental changes in temperature, water chemistry and sediment. These records help scientists reconstruct what past ages were like before humans kept records.

4) Corals are like tropical rainforests. Both corals and tropical rainforests support an incredible array of life. Both are also under stress from human activities. Rising temperatures, heavy fishing (hunting) pressure and physical destruction are just some of the human-caused problems hurting both corals and rainforests.

5) Corals are like Venus flytraps. Some corals can eat passing plankton by grabbing them from the ocean and ingesting them. This provides a source of fatty acids for corals, and it is thought to help corals resist bleaching and other stresses.

6) Corals are like solar panels. Coral animals contain “symbionts,” which are small cells that photosynthesize, or harvest the sun’s energy, and pass some of it along to the coral in exchange for housing.

7) Corals are like flowers. To reproduce, most corals release gametes, or eggs and sperm, into the water. This is similar to how flowers release pollen (gametes) into the wind. Both corals and flowers decide when to reproduce based on temperature and lighting.

8) Corals are like medicine cabinets. Coral reefs and the animals that live around them have many chemical defenses to drive away predators. These chemical compounds could be the inspiration for future medicines, nutritional supplements, pesticides and more.

9) Corals are like rock quarries. Broken bits of coral create silt and sand that forms seafloor and sandy beaches in many tropical locations. Some coral breakdown is normal, like when parrotfish crunch off bites of coral to digest the living coral tissue, and spit out or excrete the hard skeleton crumbs. Other breakdown isn’t normal, such as the physical and chemical breakdown of coral by ocean acidification, dynamite fishing, ship strikes or other human-caused stress.


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Eight Generations http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/21/eight-generations/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/21/eight-generations/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:44:29 +0000 Ryan Ono http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12447

Can you imagine a family in the same business for eight generations?  Talk about dedication and deep expertise! That is what struck me when I met the Haward family, who has been farming oysters since the 1700s.  Last month in West Mersea, England, I had the privilege of visiting Richard Haward’s Oysters. I was hosted by Richard himself, along with his son Bram. These men have inherited a craft honed by their great, great, great, great grandparents, but they are living in a time of unprecedented environmental change. And that is precisely why I was there, along with four American shellfish farmers. Specifically, we traveled to the United Kingdom to talk about ocean acidification and how it threatens the livelihoods and traditions of people who rely on the sea.

Earlier this week I wrote about the formal (and informal) discussions we had about ocean acidification with U.K. shellfish farmers, scientists and policymakers. We talked about its impacts on U.S. oyster and shellfish health and how we’ve started to address it on both sides of the Atlantic. We learned about the oyster farms, growing techniques, and water quality issues in the U.K.

Today, I’m writing about the people on the water whose lives would be directly affected by acidification.

I’m also showing more photos so you get a sense of Richard’s family, his business, the water where the oysters are harvested and of course, the oysters.

Here’s what we saw and learned:

We traveled about two hours by train and car from London to West Mersea, a small, breezy fishing town on the mostly farmland island of Mersea. Our trip took place during a pleasant window of sunny weather before the rain came later that afternoon. Credit: Katy Davidson A photo of everyone who came on the trip in front of Richard’s family restaurant. Front L-R: Terry Sawyer, Silvana Birchenough, Ryan Ono, Theresa Douthwright (SoleShare partner), Jack Clarke (SoleShare); Back (L-R): Bill Dewey, Richard Haward, Dan Grosse and Mike Martinsen. Credit: Katy Davidson After meeting Richard at the restaurant, we split into two groups on different boats to dredge for two different species of oysters in the River Blackwater. Credit: Katy Davidson Richard (right) and Terry Sawyer (left) of Hog Island Oyster Co.  in California discuss how the oysters (Crassostrea gigas or Pacific oysters) just harvested in their hands have become prolific around the world, and in fact Terry and others from the Pacific Coast grow the same oyster species, originally from Japan. In England, these have supplemented low production of native European oysters (Ostrea edulis, or European flats). Credit: Ryan Ono Me holding a “native” European oyster. These are rarer in Europe due to overfishing and pollution since the late 1800s, and are sold at a premium. In raw form on a half-shell, they can retail up to $4 each in upscale London oyster bars. Credit: Ryan Ono Terry talks to Jack Clarke of SoleShare, our trip organizers, about the 4-6 years of growth “natives” need to achieve market-size, with Terry holding one in his hand. Credit: Ryan Ono Cefas scientist Silvana Birchenough (left) asks Bill Dewey (right) of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington State about the impact of ocean acidification on the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry over the years. Credit: Katy Davidson Harvesting oysters on the River Blackwater. Richard and his family place baby oysters, or spat, from a hatchery onto the riverbed. The spat are allowed to grow for a few years before harvest. Not all oyster farmers dredge their shellfish from the riverbed though. Other production methods include the use of plastic mesh bags and metal cages in which the baby oysters grow, suspended just above the ocean or river floor. Credit: Katy Davidson One of Richard’s workers searches for the best, market-sized Pacific oysters in this haul. They are then brought to shore, purified (see later photo), and shipped off to customers. Credit: Katy Davidson A box of the Pacific oysters ready to be weighed, packed, sold and shipped. These either go directly to customer homes in wooden boxes to allow for air circulation, are sold at one of Richard’s seafood restaurants, or shipped to restaurants all over Europe.Credit: Katy Davidson Talking more oysters on the boat. Conversations ranged from the market prices of oysters, and time and labor spent harvesting, to the history of the industry. A common concern shared by farmers around the globe is disease outbreak. And unfortunately the UK oyster industry was hit with vibrio disease outbreaks as recently as 2011 that decimated production for some farms. Mike Martinsen of the Montauk Shellfish Company is in his famous hat in the middle. Richard leads us on a tour of his facility where, after harvest, the oysters are stored in clean water to help flush out any impurities or bacteria in tanks for about 48 hours before they are shipped off for human consumption. Credit: Katy Davidson After a tough day sightseeing and talking shop, we met back at the restaurant and enjoyed some oysters and beer! Here, Dan Grosse of Toby Island Bay Oyster Farm and I raise a few shells. Credit: Katy Davidson

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Oysters and Beer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/19/oysters-and-beer/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/19/oysters-and-beer/#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2016 13:00:27 +0000 Ryan Ono http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12421

I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I drink it while eating oysters. Or at least that’s what I did in London a few weeks ago, with oyster farmers shucking local oysters right on the pub tables.

One of the perks of my job is to talk with oyster farmers, and oftentimes the most productive conversations and connections happen over drinks. In this instance, I was with American farmers Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish Farms, Dan Grosse of Toby Island Bay Oyster Farm, Mike Martinsen of Montauk Shellfish Company and Terry Sawyer of Hog Island Oyster Company to talk about ocean acidification with shellfish farmers, scientists and government policy staff from the United Kingdom. After a long day of meetings we went to a pub in London to continue the discussion, and one of the UK farmers, Tristan Hugh-Jones of Rossmore Oysters, actually brought native oysters from his farm to share right in the pub. I’m not sure how much the pub employees appreciated it, but seeing all the growers compete for quickest and cleanest shucking job was entertaining for everyone.

Earlier that day we had hosted a workshop covering the impacts of ocean acidification, diseases and water quality issues that harm bivalve shellfish with UK shellfish farmers, scientists and government policy staff.  Fishermen, shellfish farmers and coastal communities in both countries rely on a healthy ocean as an economic resource, and they all want to keep it that way. The $51 million (£33 million) shellfish aquaculture industry in the U.K. employs over 700 people in areas with scarce employment opportunities. But this industry is in jeopardy: Carbon dioxide emissions, emitted by all nations, are creating more acidic seawater that harms a number of commercially valuable species including oysters, mussels, clams, corals and crustaceans.

A few U.K. shellfish farmers are becoming concerned over this environmental threat and want to learn more. At the workshop, they did just that. Bill and Terry, farmers from the U.S. Pacific Coast explained how ocean acidification contributed to multiple years of oyster seed die-offs to their industry almost ten years ago. Dan and Mike from the U.S. Atlantic Coast followed up noting that, while they have not yet felt any direct impacts, they are motivated to learn about this issue, and take preventative action to avoid the kinds of oyster die-offs the West Coast has experienced.

It’s common for crops of oysters to die unexpectedly in any location, including the U.K., but right now, there’s no way to tell in the U.K. whether this is due to acidification. During our workshop, U.K. scientists Dr. Rob Ellis and Dr. Silvana Birchenough presented research showing local bivalves and crustaceans grow slower and survive less often under acidification conditions in lab settings. They also projected that U.K. aquaculture and wild fishery industries in the future would suffer between $1.8 million (£1.4 million) and $11.8 million (£9.1 million) in annual loses depending on global carbon emission rates.

As individuals have become increasingly aware of the harm carbon dioxide emissions have on their daily lives, they have pushed their governments to act.  The commitments made during and following the COP21 Conference this past December were a huge step towards cutting back emissions around the world. And this September, the 3rd international Our Ocean conference offers another opportunity for countries to act on acidification and other global ocean problems such as marine pollution and overfishing.

The U.K. and other countries have made important commitments to protect the ocean through this conference series. And I for one hope that the voices of the shellfish farmers and other ocean users push our leaders to take even bolder conservation steps, because I like my oysters, and I want to eat them whenever I want in the future, with or without the beer.

Stay tuned tomorrow for photos and a report from the field trip our American delegation took to visit one oyster farm in Essex County. We were there to see their growing areas and learn about the local water quality. I’ll share what we learned in tomorrow’s follow-up blog post.


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Searching for Hope in a Time of Despair http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/18/we-rise-and-fall-together-as-one-country-as-one-world/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/18/we-rise-and-fall-together-as-one-country-as-one-world/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 21:12:30 +0000 Bethany Kraft http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12428

Because we rise and fall together.

This has been a heartbreaking month – a heartbreaking year – for our country and around the world.

Like you, I’m troubled and heartbroken by the racial inequality and violence that mars our great country. I’ve been thinking about the events in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Minnesota almost constantly. And I am struggling with the fact that whatever I write will not adequately capture or convey my feelings. It certainly doesn’t represent all the conversations that Ocean Conservancy staffs have had as these events have unfolded.

I want to take heart from the fact that across America we are coming together and speaking out on whatever platforms we have. And yet this weekend, we learned of even more heartbreaking news out of Baton Rouge. It feels hopeless, but at the same time I am looking for signs of hope – that together, as one country we can say that it is past time for a change.

The reasons we find ourselves in this moment are rooted deeply in the past. And it taints our present by the persistent challenges brought about by the lack of access to education and opportunities, a vicious cycle of poverty and years of systemic prejudice, segregation and racism.

I grew up in the South, a place of great beauty, great complexity and great contradiction. This is where I found my calling: to restore the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. And this is also where I am part of a storm that has been building for some time, one that is changing the social landscape and how we must measure truth, justice and peace.

I’m deeply saddened by the disparity, the unfairness and the fear that we have sowed. At times, it seems that these problems are almost too overwhelming to overcome. I see similar issues of separateness, us-versus-them mentalities that have marred the environmental movement. We have to remind ourselves to connect and contextualize our work around the people and communities around us. Because the truth is that we rise and fall together, as one country, as one world.

I am not without hope. I am hopeful that many groups, including Ocean Conservancy, are speaking up, working on honest conversations and meaningful actions to make this world, including my little corner in the Gulf, in a better place. As we stay present to recent events, Ocean Conservancy is strengthening our commitment to become the change we want to see in the world.

We must reflect on what got us here and consider what we can do as individuals and as communities to overcome the despair and reach for peace, equality and justice.

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