Ocean Currents » president obama 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 2016: A Year of Hope for the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/12/30/2016-a-year-of-hope-for-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/12/30/2016-a-year-of-hope-for-the-ocean/#comments Fri, 30 Dec 2016 14:24:08 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13545 For many of us, the ocean is a place of hope—it inspires us and supports us and in turn, we work hard to protect it. 2016 has been quite a year, full of ups and downs. But when it comes to the ocean, 2016 was a year of fantastic victories that remind us what is possible when we come together in support of our ocean, and give us hope for our ocean’s future.

Every day, we wake up ready to fight for the health of our ocean, and thanks to the support of advocates—like you—we’ve celebrated some big wins. While we have plenty of work ahead of us to defend these victories, these are some of the wonderful things that happened in 2016 that give us hope for our ocean’s future:

The Arctic is a safer place (for now)

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration took action to protect the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—as well as the Atlantic Ocean—from risky offshore drilling until 2022. The just last week, President Obama took an even bolder action, furthering his legacy as a leader in protecting the Arctic from the threats of climate change, by protecting 115 million acres of federal waters in the Arctic Ocean from oil and gas drilling (and an additional 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic Ocean). We’ll need your continued support to keep this fragile area protected in the coming years.

In the same announcement, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau committed to working together to make Arctic shipping safer, moving forward with a plan to phase out heavy fuel oil and reaffirming a science-based approach fishery management in the Arctic. These bilateral promises between two Arctic nations give us hope for the future of this area, and a clear path for forward progress in the future.

But the good news for the Arctic doesn’t stop there—earlier in December, President Obama declared important protections for the northern Bering Sea and the Bering Strait by establishing the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area, in direct response to requests from Alaska Native tribes. Home to a number of Alaska Native tribes and one of the largest marine animals migrations, this region is one of the most historically, environmentally, and culturally significant places on our planet. This action is significant in that it establishes a clear role for local tribes in the management of the resources on which their culture depends—another ray of hope in 2016.

The U.S. made big (ocean) plans

Just this month, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic finalized the first smart ocean plans in the United States. These revolutionary new ocean plans made history by bringing together the needs of many, many stakeholders and paved the way for smart ocean management around the region—and the country. These plans are the culmination of years of work, bringing both regions towards a more holistic, science-based and stakeholder informed ocean management process that will ensure the ocean economy remains strong while ocean ecosystems remain healthy. With your help, we’ll work toward implementing these plans and expanding them to other regions.

We just kept swimming…towards sustainable fisheries

This year, the U.S. celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a fisheries management act that is largely responsible for the strong state of our nation’s fish stocks. NOAA Fisheries also released the ““Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management Road Map,” a comprehensive, science-based plan that looks at the broader ecosystem when managing fisheries, rather than looking at one fish at a time. It’s a good step forward to help end overfishing and rebuild vulnerable stocks. We’re not out of the woods, though, and we will keep working with policymakers, fishermen and scientists to make sure we don’t lose any of our progress towards sustainable fisheries.

Obama left his marine mark

Thanks to the support of ocean advocates (like you!), President Obama protected important places on the far east and west of our country: expanding Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument—now the world’s largest marine sanctuary—in Hawaii, and establishing the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in New England. In just the span of a few weeks, Obama protected more U.S. waters than any other president in history. Together, we can ensure that these areas remain protected for years to come.

As 2016 comes to a close, let’s toast to the fantastic strides that have been made in the world of ocean conservation this year, and hold on to this hope as we look ahead to the work still to be done. As advocates that care passionately about our ocean and leaving a healthy planet for future generations, we will continue our commitment to using smart, science-based solutions to protect coastal communities and healthy marine ecosystems, and hope you’ll join us on this important journey!

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We Are a United Front for Our Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/09/we-are-a-united-front-for-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/09/we-are-a-united-front-for-our-ocean/#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2016 21:00:43 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13304

This is a hard post for me to write. Our country is exhausted after one of the most contentious campaign cycles in modern history. We now have a President-elect, Donald J. Trump, after an election season that leaves many Americans extremely unhappy and a nation deeply divided.

As a nonprofit organization, Ocean Conservancy does not support or oppose candidates for elected office. But now that the results are in, we can assess what it means for you as someone who loves the ocean, and what this means for Ocean Conservancy as an organization who works on your behalf.

The next four years will not be easy. It is going to be challenging to heal these rifts in order to move forward.

Personally, I was deeply troubled by the divisive tone and fearmongering that characterized the Trump campaign. There were attacks on people’s race, creed, color and religion. Those attacks are in sharp contrast to Ocean Conservancy’s core belief that we are all created equal and deserve respect, regardless of differing views.

I am also alarmed by the candidate’s track record on environmental issues. His false statement that climate change is a hoax is perhaps the most troubling indicator of how the new administration will approach one of the most critical challenges to our planet. In 2016 we should not have to persuade America’s leadership that climate change is real and happening all around our country and the world. We are already experiencing tremendous shifts in our ocean and particularly in places like the Arctic, as a direct result of climate change.

And I have grown increasingly concerned about many of the staffing choices being made by the Trump transition team on environmental issues. The Trump transition now includes key staffers who are widely known to believe that we should dramatically increase oil and gas drilling, and should roll back the bipartisan efforts of critical agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency.

What does this election outcome mean for our ocean?

As advocates that care passionately about our ocean and leaving a healthy planet for future generations, we must continue to speak up and present a united front in favor of smart, science-based solutions.

Let me assure you that Ocean Conservancy will continue to take the high road. Deep in our organizational DNA is the belief that protecting our ocean is truly nonpartisan. Despite the challenge ahead, we will work together with our partners and supporters to find solutions that protect people and our blue planet.

Some of our greatest accomplishments on behalf of our ocean took place under George W. Bush’s presidency—strengthening the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the establishment of the Northwest Hawaiian Marine National Monument, which was the world’s largest marine protected area at the time it was announced in 2006. Those legacies have, in large part, continued under President Obama.

While we will always strive to work with a new administration regardless of a President’s party affiliation, we also won’t back down from a fight if the health of our ocean is at risk. We will stand strong for our issues, stand strong for our causes and stand strong for our supporters who entrust us to work on these issues.

We will not back down. Ocean Conservancy reaffirms our commitment to protect what matters: thriving coastal communities, sustainable fisheries to feed America and the world, healthy productive marine life and our ocean that weathers this and future storms with strength, beauty and resilience.

We need you to stand strong too—with us.

Together, we are stronger.

Together, we are a united front for our ocean.

Onwards.

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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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The Future: Arctic Five-Year Plan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/18/the-future-arctic-five-year-plan/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/18/the-future-arctic-five-year-plan/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2016 14:59:59 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13139 We have less than a month to keep the Arctic Ocean safe from offshore drilling.

Right now, President Obama is preparing a new five-year leasing plan, and it could allow risky oil and gas leasing to go forward in the Arctic Ocean. We can’t let that happen.

Can I count on you to help protect the Arctic?

The future of the Arctic will be determined in these next few weeks. Offshore drilling is risky, and in the Arctic it’s as dangerous as dangerous gets. A major oil spill in the remote and icy waters of the Arctic would be all but impossible to clean up. In fact, there’s virtually no infrastructure or adequate resources for a cleanup. It would be a danger to not only the people and response teams involved, but a threat to this fragile ecosystem.

The answer is simple: We can’t risk a disaster in the Arctic. That’s why we need you.
Will you join Ocean Conservancy in asking the Obama Administration to exclude Arctic lease sales from the final version of the five-year plan?

The time to act is now. The Administration needs to know this issue is important to you!

Until we can ensure the safety of wildlife and the ocean ecosystem, we can’t afford to include Arctic leasing in the five-year plan. Arctic wildlife like polar bears, bowhead whales and walruses are found nowhere else on Earth. It’s up to us to protect their Arctic home from the dangers of offshore drilling.

Take action for the Arctic. Ask President Obama to keep Arctic leasing off the five year-plan.

Please take five minutes to stand up for five years in the Arctic.

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The Science of Protecting the Arctic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/28/the-science-of-protecting-the-arctic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/28/the-science-of-protecting-the-arctic/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:04:40 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13012  

A year ago, President Obama became the first sitting US President to visit the Arctic.

He stood on the banks of Bristol Bay with a freshly caught salmon in hand, joined schoolchildren in a traditional Yup’ik dance, and stood at the toe of the rapidly shrinking Exit Glacier. He experienced awe-inspiring Alaska with its rich cultures and traditions that depend on a healthy, thriving environment. He also saw the effects of climate change firsthand from the ecological impacts of a receding glacier to a village forced to relocate because of severe coastal erosion.

After that trip President Obama said, “What’s happening in Alaska is happening to us…it’s our wakeup call.”

Exactly a year later today, President Obama has convened the first-ever White House Arctic Science Ministerial, bringing together science ministers and indigenous leaders from around the world to focus on collaboration and opportunities around Arctic science.

This could not come at a better time for the people and communities in the Arctic. President Obama deserves our thanks for his bold leadership and recognition of science as a vital foundation for Arctic conservation.

Scientific collaboration is vital to observing, monitoring and understanding the rapid changes taking place in the Arctic. I am thrilled that indigenous communities from the region are part of the meeting taking in place in Washington DC today. Their keen knowledge and understanding of their natural environment is an essential complement to Western scientific understanding and management choices. This may be a region comprised of many nations but it belongs to the world.

What we do with our knowledge is just as important as scientific collaboration. Communities and ecosystems around the Arctic are already reeling from the impacts of global climate change. We must invest in climate resilience. And now is the time to minimize risks from threats like oil and gas development and increased vessel traffic in the Arctic.

President Obama has raised the alarm for the Arctic. This wakeup call is no less urgent today than it was a year ago. Change is happening, and it is happening at a more rapid pace than most predicted. In the end, the Arctic will be different, but with your help it can still be a vital and vibrant place – one that inspires presidents and people, remains a refuge for icons of nature, provides food for millions and keeps our planet healthy and thriving.

Without a doubt, our actions today shape the Arctic of tomorrow.

Researchers scoop water from melt ponds on sea ice in the Chukchi Sea. The water was later analyzed from the Healy’s onboard science lab.
© NASA/Kathryn Hansen

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We Made History. Again. http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/15/we-made-history-again/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/15/we-made-history-again/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2016 04:01:28 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12856

Last month, President Obama made history by establishing the largest protected marine area ever in Hawaii.

Now, he’s at it again.

Today, President Obama announced the protection of a new marine area in New England as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. That means that in just a matter of weeks, Obama has protected more U.S. waters than any other president.

Join us in applauding the Obama Administration for permanently protecting one of the most unique places in the Atlantic.


The New England Canyons and Seamounts represent some of the most astounding and diverse underwater ecosystems in the Atlantic. Located about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, the canyons are carved thousands of feet down into the edge of the continental shelf, where it drops off into the ocean depths.  Further out, the seamounts rise thousands of feet up from the ocean bottom, towering underwater mountains.

This incredible geologic diversity creates a unique hotspot for all kinds of species, many of which we are just now discovering. In 2013, a single research expedition discovered 24 deepwater coral species and three fishes that were previously unknown in the region.

The region is also home to whales, dolphins and a host of other species. Protecting this spectacular region means these animals can thrive for generations to come.

With these two announcements bridging sea-to-shining-sea, the United States has shown itself to be a leader in marine conservation. Let’s keep up the momentum.

Thank President Obama for making marine protection a priority from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

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Exploring the Remote Midway Atoll http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/02/exploring-hawaiis-midway-atoll/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/02/exploring-hawaiis-midway-atoll/#comments Fri, 02 Sep 2016 13:00:29 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12761

Just last week, President Obama announced that he will quadruple the Papahānaumokuākea Hawaii Monument—creating the world’s largest protected marine area. At 582,578 square miles, Papahānaumokuākea will be nearly four times the size of California and 105 times larger than Connecticut. This is huge news for the endangered Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, sharks and more that call this uniquely biodiverse seascape home.

Nicholas Mallos, Director of our Trash Free Seas program, traveled to Papahānaumokuākea in 2010 to see first-hand the beauty—and the dangers—in this spectacular ecosystem.

Setting foot on land more than 1,000 miles from your nearest neighbor, one might suspect to find themselves in an unspoiled environment with little or no sign of human presence. Unfortunately, on Midway Atoll, this is not the case. Part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Midway is at the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago, roughly equidistant from Asia and North America.

Midway is truly “out there.” The atoll’s nearest population center is Honolulu, which is 1,311 miles to the southeast and a five-hour trip by plane. Having reviewed the literature, perused the photos and watched the films, I thought I was prepared for my 2010 research trip to the Atoll. But I was not.

Lying literally in the middle of nowhere, Midway is a beautiful and deeply surreal place, mystical and transformative. At night, Bonin petrels, small nocturnal seabirds, flock the skies in the hundreds of thousands, emitting shrieks eerily synonymous with their avian counterparts in Alfred Hitchcock’s, “The Birds.” During the day, petrel shrills are replaced by the relentless chatter of more than one million Laysan and black-footed albatross. Midway is the largest nesting colony for Laysans and the second largest for black-foots. Offshore, the roar of the ocean is equally sonorous with a monster swell that breaks over the atoll’s fringing reefs.

Seventy years ago, Japanese and U.S. military forces pummeled these islands with artillery during the Battle of Midway, one of the most important naval battles of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. But despite decades without troops or thunderous artillery, these islands remain endangered by a far more persistent threat manufactured by humankind: plastics.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands act like a filter in the North Pacific, ensnaring large amounts of drifting fishing gear and debris on its fringing reefs and sandy shores. The daily accumulation of large debris on Midway’s shores—almost entirely plastics—threatens the monk seals and sea turtles that haul out on its beaches and forage in the atoll’s shallow waters. With only 1,200 monk seals remaining, the loss of even a single animal can substantially impact the species. Entanglement in debris and ingestion of plastics is also a serious concern for Hawaiian green turtles, a subspecies that is genetically distinct from all other green sea turtles found throughout the world.

But seabirds, most notably albatross, incur the greatest impact from plastic debris. Each year, approximately 4.5 tons (nearly 10,000 pounds) of plastics are brought to Midway not by currents or wind, but in the stomachs of the birds themselves. Mothers and fathers forage at sea for weeks in search of fish eggs, squid and other prey in hopes of nourishing their newly hatched chicks that wait anxiously hundreds or even thousands of miles away. All too often, adult albatross return to Midway and regurgitate offerings more reminiscent of a convenience store than that of a natural albatross diet. Plastic bottle caps, cigarette lighters, fishing floats and great quantities of plastic fragments are now part of the albatross diet. Unlike their parents, Laysan chicks do not possess the ability to regurgitate; once consumed, these plastics are often fatal to chicks through a variety of mechanisms including starvation, stomach rupture or asphyxiation.

I witnessed the unintended consequences of plastics on Laysan and black-footed albatross firsthand during a two week stay on Midway in 2010, where my colleagues and I completed a preliminary assessment of plastics’ impacts on marine wildlife. Trekking around the islands, it was impossible to avoid plastics—colorful shapes and sizes speckled the ground while other types of plastic protruded from the guts of recently perished albatross chicks.

By analyzing the stomach contents of a deceased chick found lying on the old airstrip amid the sprouting grass, I further deconstructed the plastics-albatross relationship. Finding a specimen was not difficult; hundreds of options were available on that same runway. The stomach contents of my single albatross included nine plastic bottle caps, two strands of dental floss, one five-inch orange fishing float, 103 miscellaneous plastic pieces, six pumice stones and 60 squid beaks—the latter two items being the only naturally occurring components of a Laysan’s diet. While this was only a single sample, the total mass of the synthetic stomach contents was roughly 100 grams, about the same as a quarter-pound hamburger.

The magnificent albatross on Midway Island are more than just birds. As part of our natural world, they are an object lesson in how we are treating our planet. Albatross, along with the other inhabitants of Midway, are the recipients of the collective impacts of the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that permeates our global society. While I have been fortunate to visit these animals in this far off world, one need not travel to Midway to witness the persistence and proliferation of marine debris. The ocean plastics crisis is just down the road or over the nearest sand dune.

Take a moment to say mahalo (thank you) to President Obama for creating the world’s largest protected marine area.

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