By Mark Gold, D.Env.
Sunday night, the Oceano Azul Foundation hosted the 2022 United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference kickoff at the Lisbon Oceanarium. The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, delivered a powerful speech making it clear that war and refugee crises can’t be used as an excuse for inaction on climate and ocean conservation. President Rebelo de Sousa also praised the environmental non–governmental organization (NGO) community for their tireless pursuit of ocean conservation, children for their bold and clear voices on climate and the oceans, and Portugal for their Marine Protected Area program. To have the leader of the host nation kick off the week in such a bold and candid manner should set the tone for the week.
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The first major study of California’s marine protected areas shows they are on track to help to improve ocean health. Scientists, fishermen, resource managers and environmentalists gathered recently to share results from the first five years of monitoring in the Central Coast region. We spoke with Liz Whiteman, Director of the MPA Monitoring Enterprise program at California Ocean Science Trust, who says monitoring is showing promising results for marine life and the ocean economy.
With a coastline over 1,100 miles long, the Pacific Ocean is one of the most dominant features of California’s geography. Approximately 3/4 of California’s residents live in a county adjacent to the ocean and the recreation and economic activities that rely on a healthy ocean are integral to our collective well-being. Ocean and coastal resources are a big part of how we work, live, and play, but many people are unaware of the challenges facing this essential component of our lifestyle. Even though a lack of public knowledge exists about the ocean and its problems, recent surveys indicate that Californians support efforts to protect the oceans and are interested in learning more about them.
OPC 2006 – 2011 Strategic Plan Objective: Increase public awareness of ocean and coastal issues and encourage individual stewardship.
Assuming that a strong link exists between the public’s understanding of the natural environment and its willingness to protect and preserve natural resources, the Ocean Protection Council has undertaken initiatives designed to increase public awareness of marine issues and encourage individual ocean stewardship. This includes developing a Web-based information and outreach campaign, supporting an internationally renowned conference series, and supporting the incorporation of ocean and coastal science into K-12 and adult education programs.
The Thank You Ocean Campaign is a non-profit partnership supported by the State of California, the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Ocean Communicators Alliance. The campaign mission is to raise awareness of the benefits the ocean provides to us and to identify ways each of us can help protect the ocean in our everyday lives. The campaign includes a website, public service announcements, an advertising campaign, and a podcast series featuring leaders in ocean policy. The campaign is focused on educating the public about the importance of sustaining ocean life and inspiring Californians to practice ocean stewardship to alleviate major threats to the ocean including climate change, marine debris, water pollution, and marine life decline.
The California and World Ocean Conference series provides an opportunity to bring together representatives from government, academia, industry, and the public to share ideas and formulate action strategies for the 21st Century. The CWO conferences seek the experience, views, and innovative ideas of experts throughout California, the United States, and the international community in addressing ocean and coastal resource management issues facing California, other states, or nations. The first conference was held in 1964 and again in 1997, 2002 and 2006. The most recent CWO conference was held in September 2010 and addressed ocean and coastal subjects currently being addressed by resource managers and policy makers. A complete video library of the 2010 conference sessions and presentations can be found at www.cal-span.org/events/CWO/2010.
The OPC provides support for the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Education and Environment Initiative (EEI). The EEI Curriculum is a national model designed to help prepare today’s students to become future scientists, economists, and green technology leaders. The inclusion of ocean and coastal science in the curriculum will provide benefits for improved ocean stewardship both now and in the future.
Initiatives and Funded Projects:
Thank You Ocean public outreach campaign
California and the World Oceans Conference
Education and Environment Initiative (EEI)