The week leading up to World Oceans Day (June 8th) is always a busy time for us at Ocean Conservancy, and this year was no exception. Everywhere we turned, one of our issues or spokespeople were being highlighted. We also celebrated big wins for ocean acidification and plastic waste reduction!
I had the privilege of helping kick off two days of intense ocean-focused discussions at Capitol Hill Ocean Week, the annual Washington, D.C.-based conference on ocean science and policy hosted by National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation. On Tuesday, I moderated the opening panel: “Oceans Disrupted.” The panelists were an all-star lineup of experts, and they discussed the many ways in which ocean systems are suffering from climate change.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed four ocean acidification bills that we have been supporting. These bills, including H.R. 1237, the “COAST Research Act of 2019”, H.R. 1716, the “Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2019”, H.R. 1921, the “Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2019” and H.R. 988, the “NEAR Act of 2019”, will expand ocean acidification research in the open ocean, broaden our knowledge of acidification’s effects in estuaries and the coastal zone and support innovation to help us better understand and respond to ocean acidification. Each bill had strong bipartisan support from cosponsors and easily passed the House. Congress understands that ocean acidification is an urgent threat, and we look forward to the Senate’s leadership in taking this energy forward.
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And Ocean Conservancy, USAID and Circulate Capital have announced a blended finance partnership to fight ocean plastic pollution. The loans available from this program will support nations, especially in Southeast Asia, in improving and expanding waste management and recycling systems to capture plastic waste, instead of allowing it to escape to the ocean. Executive Vice President Emily Woglom helped launch this initiative, hailing the blend of private and public resources to help end the ocean plastic crisis.
Throughout it all, we had countless in-person meetings with people we don’t get to see often enough, to share exciting ideas and plan for the future. For example, the ocean acidification team met with youth conservation group the Scubanauts to discuss advocacy, ocean climate change, and underwater adventures. Also, ocean science celebrity Dr. Ayana Johnson paid our Washington, D.C., office a visit on Wednesday, World Environment Day, and met with our Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Conservation fellows and other staff to discuss the future of ocean conservation.
There are so many different people working to conserve our ocean and they all bring with them unique voices, expertise and ideas. Our victories this past week showed that we can all make a difference for our ocean when we work together. While we have work left to do, reconnecting with our ocean allies and celebrating major victories for our ocean’s health reminded me of why I do the work that I do.