The week of September 10, people from around the world are gathering in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit. Convened by the State of California, the Summit brings together leaders—representing nations, states, cities, companies, investors and citizens—to celebrate climate action, and step up their ambitions to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement. As part of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s climate commitment, we’re moving to green our own business operations. Here’s how:
Monterey Bay Aquarium has announced a new set of climate commitments: By 2025, we will achieve net-zero carbon emissions and will transition 100 percent of our vehicle fleet to renewable power.
“We know that climate change is the single greatest threat to ocean health, and to all humankind,” said Margaret Spring, chief conservation officer and vice president of conservation & science for the Aquarium.
Margaret made the announcement on the stage of the “We Mean Business Action” platform hosted by We Are Still In in San Francisco during the Global Climate Action Summit.
We Are Still In is a coalition of more than 3,500 U.S. businesses, cities, universities, cultural institutions, health care organizations, faith groups, states and tribes that committed to climate action in keeping with the 2015 Paris Agreement, after the federal government announced plans to withdraw from the historic global climate accord.
This month, we’re asking Aquarium visitors and social media followers in California to support the Straws On Request bill—and join the movement to combat ocean plastic pollution. We sat down with Amy Wolfrum, our California Ocean Conservation Policy Manager, to discuss the bill and how it connects to the Aquarium’s larger ocean conservation mission.
UPDATE 9.20.18—We did it! The California Legislature passed the Straws On Request bill, AB 1884, and Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law. Beginning January 1, 2019, dine-in restaurants across the state will provide a plastic straw only to customers who ask for one.
What’s the Straws On Request bill?
California Assembly Bill (AB) 1884, sometimes called the Straws On Request bill, would require that dine-in, full-service restaurants across the state provide straws only when customers ask for them. Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon introduced the bill in response to a growing body of science showing that plastic pollution is a real problem for our planet—especially the ocean.
Why is plastic such a problem for the ocean?
It’s estimated that nearly 9 million U.S. tons of plastic enters the global ocean each year. That’s like dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute! And if people around the world don’t make changes, the rate of plastic flowing into the sea is expected to double by 2025.
Plastic can now be found in almost every marine habitat on Earth—from polar ice to deep ocean trenches. Marine animals are harmed by plastic pollution in two ways: when they accidentally eat it, and when they become entangled in it.
The United States has some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, thanks to our strong, science-based federal management. Most of the fish populations swimming off U.S. shores are at healthy levels, and many have recovered from decades of overfishing.
That’s something Americans can be proud of.
But a bill introduced in Congress could undo that progress, taking our country back to the old days of overfishing, unsustainable management and crashing fish stocks.
On June 19, the Trump Administration issued an executive order revoking the 2010 National Ocean Policy established by President Obama. The order also creates a new National Ocean Policy that shifts the focus of ocean resource management from stewardship and sustainability to oil and gas development and national security.
“The President’s executive order undermines our ability to sustain ocean and coastal resources over time for the benefit of this and future generations of Americans,” says Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “The new policy places too much emphasis on short-term economic gain over long-term ocean health and prosperity.”
For more than 30 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has inspired conservation of the ocean. In light of the President’s executive order, we will redouble our efforts in Monterey and beyond—with businesses, elected officials and international leaders—to address the top threats facing the ocean today, advancing science-based solutions for a sustainable future.
On June 14, chefs nationwide will be serving up support for our U.S. sustainable seafood law.
Over 50 culinary leaders across the country in cities like Honolulu, Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, Sarasota and New York are joining together that evening to celebrate the successes of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), our country’s premier fisheries management law—and to defend it from threats in Washington D.C.
Two bills currently before Congress, H.R. 200 and S. 1520, would weaken the MSA’s sustainability measures that have largely ended overfishing and recovered depleted species in U.S. waters. Chefs have been particularly vocal in their opposition to these proposals, pointing out that fisheries management is not just an issue for fisherman or coastal residents—it’s a food issue.
The culinary community from landlocked states knows this better than most. Seventy-two chefs from Midwest and Mountain West states recently weighed in with a letter to Congress, urging them to maintain science-based management and accountability measures of the MSA.
“Fisheries management may seem like a weird topic for chefs to get involved in,” says Danielle Leoni, chef and owner of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar in Phoenix, Arizona. “But we all love fish. And as a businessperson, I want access to a consistent supply of sustainable seafood—even though my restaurant is hundreds of miles from the nearest coast.”
Today, thousands of people wearing blue will form a human wave in Washington, D.C.—and in cities around the world—during the first March for the Ocean.
It’s a show of solidarity for the global sea that unites us, and on whose health our survival depends. Participants are marching to oppose offshore oil and gas drilling, help protect coastal communities from rising seas and other climate disasters, and end the flow of plastic pollution from land to sea.
If you can’t attend a march in person, you canjoin the livestream at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 1:30 p.m. Eastern; speak up on social media and tag #MarchForTheOcean; and wear blue. To learn more, visit www.marchforocean.com.
Featured image: Rose Atoll National Marine Monument. Photo by Ian Shive/USFWS via CC BY-NC 2.0. This image was cropped.
As we celebrate World Oceans Day, it’s too easy to forget about the deep sea. It’s the largest habitat on the planet, and is increasingly threatened by human activities. Monterey Bay Aquarium scientists, and our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, are working to understand and protect the deep ocean. It’s a big job—and we’ll need your help.
To bring the message about the deep ocean to a wider public, Executive Director Julie Packard and MBARI President and CEO Chris Scholin shared their thoughts about safeguarding the deep sea in an op-ed column published in today’s New York Times.
“The oceans are the largest home for life on our planet and the blue heart of Earth’s climate system,” they write. “We must use them wisely. Otherwise, we risk using them up.”
With your help, Californians have passed Proposition 68 with 56 percent voter approval, authorizing the state to issue $4 billion in bonds to protect our natural resources. This investment will empower California to address some of the state’s most important water, park, and natural resource needs—including ocean and coastal conservation, climate adaptation and resilience, and increased access to parks and coastal areas.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is grateful to the voters—as well as the many organizations, bipartisan leaders and major newspapers across the state—who stood up with us to sustain California’s natural beauty and living resources. Thank you!
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect what we love about California—like our iconic coastline, diverse marine habitats and abundant wildlife.
That’s why Monterey Bay Aquarium is supporting Proposition 68 on the June 5 California ballot. Please join us in voting YES for the future of our ocean!
Proposition 68 is a bond measure that asks voters to approve a $4 billion investment in important natural resources. It is the first bond measure of its kind in more than a decade. If passed, it will help improve public access to California’s coast, boost our state’s resilience to climate change, and protect our ocean and coastal habitats.
On February 20, 2018, hundreds of ocean advocates gathered at the state Capitol to discuss ocean and coastal issues with top decision-makers during Ocean Day California. In the evening, the Aquarium hosted its ninth annual awards reception for about 200 state officials and legislators, their staff and ocean leaders.
Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard presented our 2018 California Ocean Champion Award to Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia and Mark Stone, who have made significant contributions to California’s ocean and coastal leadership. The award is part of the Aquarium’s work to inspire and inform government decision-makers to take science-based action on behalf of the ocean.
The sustainable use of our ocean is the lifeblood of coastal communities—supporting tourism, fisheries and recreation while protecting extraordinary marine wildlife. Offshore oil drilling in sensitive coastal waters puts coastal economies, jobs and animals at unnecessary risk.
That’s why we’re speaking out against the federal Administration’s draft proposed plan to open nearly all U.S. ocean waters, including six areas in California, to oil and gas drilling. And we need you to join us.
“The President’s offshore oil and gas plan is an outrage—a huge step backward,” says Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “Our remarkable ocean ecosystems, and all of us who depend on them, deserve better.”