Conservation & Science

Action Alert: Help protect America’s coasts from offshore oil drilling

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.

NIOSH Deepwater Horizon Emergency Response Efforts
A flare burns during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which spilled almost 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Photo by NIOSH

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.”

The governors of almost every U.S. coastal state have expressed opposition or concern about oil and gas drilling off their state’s shores.

The Administration is taking public comments on the offshore oil drilling plan through March 9. We urge you to speak out to protect coastal waters. Your voice matters!

Click here to add your comment to the Federal Register. Consider using our suggested talking points below.

(Be sure to replace the text in brackets with your hometown; it also helps to add some personal thoughts about how offshore oil drilling could affect you.)

Read more…

We’re responding to the Refugio oil spill

Two weeks after a pipeline spilled more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean near Santa Barbara, oiled wildlife continues to show up on southern California beaches. Now, the Aquarium has dispatched a team of specialists to help care for rescued seabirds, in collaboration with California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. Other zoo and aquarium colleagues in California have also responded.

Nearly 200 seabirds and marine mammals have been affected thus far, and about half have survived, according to state wildlife officials.

It’s not the first time the Aquarium has stepped up to care for oiled marine animals in the wake of oil spills. In 1989, we helped rescue and care for sea otters in Alaska after the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Prince William Sound. More than 25 years later, that spill continues to affect the health of the marine environment.

Map showing areas of Gaviota coast affected by oil spill
Map showing areas of Gaviota coast affected by oil spill

While the recent Refugio spill in the Santa Barbara Channel is – fortunately – a relatively small one, it nonetheless carries environmental costs. Oil has been observed in four marine protected areas that are vital feeding and breeding grounds for fish, marine mammals and birds. Two state beaches remain closed until further notice. Commercial fishermen are shut out of 138 square miles of prime waters.

“Incidents like this are unfortunate reminders that offshore oil and gas operations in California pose an ongoing threat to valuable ocean and coastal ecosystems that we’ve worked so hard to protect,” says Aimee David, the Aquarium’s director of ocean conservation policy. “It should be a priority to remove as many of these facilities as soon as possible, and do so in a way that is based on sound science, meets strict state and federal environmental standards, and bolsters funding for marine protection and conservation efforts.”

For the short term, the Aquarium will be working in Santa Barbara to help oiled seabirds recover from the spill. Over the long haul, we’ll be active in Sacramento in support of policies to protect California’s vibrant ocean ecosystems from oil spills and other threats.

Learn more about our Conservation & Science programs

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