Celebrating California’s global conservation leadership
March 14 was more than Pi Day. In Sacramento, it was also Ocean Day California. And while pi—the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter—is delightfully infinite, we know that the ocean’s resources are not.
That’s why hundreds of advocates and educators came together in the state’s capital to celebrate ocean and coastal health. Through meetings with legislators, staff and colleagues, they worked to raise awareness of the critical role our ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth.
In the evening, for the eighth year, Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted a reception for almost 250 state legislators, government officials and ocean leaders—people dedicated to conserving the health and vitality of our state’s blue treasures.
Our guests enjoyed dishes featuring California seafood rated “Best Choice” by the Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. (Check out our Seafood Watch blog for more on the incredible dishes, from rainbow trout sushi to house-smoked sablefish—and the people who produced and prepared them.)
Julie Packard, our executive director, thanked the attending officials and advocates for helping make California both an environmental leader and an economic powerhouse.
“We have one of the world’s most incredible natural coastlines, thriving coastal communities and a rich diversity of marine wildlife because of the work of the people in this room,” she said.
“Our commitment to conservation should be stronger than ever. We support California leaders in their commitment to both safeguard what we’ve accomplished to date, and at the same time, forge ahead on the conservation policy, management and investment California is known for across the globe.”
Honoring an ocean champion
Julie then presented the California Ocean Champion Award to the Honorable Fran Pavley, a 17-year California legislator and one of the state’s most prominent environmental leaders.
During her tenure, Pavley led the adoption of major California policies on climate change, energy and the environment. In 2006 she authored the state’s landmark climate action law, AB 32. Since then, the state has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 100 million tons—creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.
In 2017, Pavley led the state to set an even more ambitious target with SB 32, setting a statewide emissions limit at 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. Her leadership on these two climate bills have positioned California as a global leader in slowing the pace of climate change—and responding to its growing impacts on our ocean and coast.
Pavley’s legacy shows that California’s success is tied to its stewardship of our natural resources, and that environmental and economic prosperity are two sides of the same coin. She has worked consistently over the years to establish ocean protection policies, fund ocean science and management programs, and improve public access to our breathtaking coastline.
The state of California owes Pavley a debt of gratitude for her accomplishments on behalf of our coast, our ocean and our planet.
Earlier in the evening, Julie was also given a special honor. Secretary of State Alex Padilla presented Julie with a framed message of recognition from Governor Jerry Brown on behalf of the State of California, thanking her for her longstanding commitment to ocean health.
California inspires the world
Our state is leading the world in its response to climate change and ocean acidification, the biggest threats to ocean health—and the future of our planet. Thanks to champions like Fran Pavley, California’s greenhouse gas reduction targets are driving innovation that inspires leaders around the world.
California models the power of science to bolster the economy. The technological advances coming out of Silicon Valley show that, when we couple the best science with the most urgent needs of society, we can achieve revolutionary outcomes.
Science also underpins how we manage and protect our natural resources. When California created its first-in-the-nation network of marine protected areas, science informed the process. We’re already seeing the benefits, as marine life rebounds both inside and outside the protected areas.
The California Coastal Act, the Environmental Quality Act, the Ocean Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, the Marine Life Protection Act and the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) are among the precedent-setting policies we must now stand together to protect and defend.
Officials and ocean advocates can’t do it alone. We need to build a diverse coalition of voices in support of conservation who represent all of the people of California—including businesspeople, underserved communities, educators and students—to stand with us.
At Monterey Bay Aquarium, we’re working with our colleagues, partners and state officials to support California’s conservation leadership.
Because hope, like pi, is infinite.
Featured photo: The Honorable Fran Pavley accepts the Aquarium’s 2017 California Ocean Champion Award.
Learn more about Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Conservation & Science programs.