Armed for Ocean Action

By | #ClimateStrikeMa, Action today, Climate Action, Featured Post, Member Only Events, New England Aquarium, Uncategorized, W2O Blog, Youth

 

Back to school time brings a sense of renewed energy and commitment to everything ocean at W2O. The ocean is never on vacation and between pockets of enjoying all of its gifts, we have been engaging our members about solutions for protecting our blue planet.

News this summer of 8 deaths of New England’s critically endangered North Atlantic right whales left us saddened but forced us to really push the urgency of our work. At our whale “PODs,” small gatherings across New England, we outlined threats to right whales and learned more about why these iconic species are so important to the health of our ocean. W2O members also joined advocates in force to attend the NOAA public hearings to demand action on preventing entanglement from lobster and crab gear. Eighty percent of right whales have been entangled at least once, wrapping them in hundreds of pounds of gear that limits their ability to feed, often leading to death.  Along with ship strikes, entanglement is one of the leading causes of whale deaths.

A team attempting to free a right whale from entanglement. The grapple with the control line is thrown. Photo from the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. Photo credit: CWRT/CWI

 

Thank you for helping us speak up for this important work of protecting the North Atlantic right whale. Stay tuned for more information about PODs you can attend in your neighborhood. As W2O heads to DC this October to push for more funding, research and enhanced protection, we need your voice! 

Heading into the fall, W20’s focus will be on plastic pollution. The feedback from our 2011 event, “Plastic in the Ocean, Plastic in You” set the tone for our members to make meaningful change in their communities and personally refuse single-use plastic.  Now plastic pollution has become a global conversation and we are at a tipping point for our ocean’s health. This year we will tackle the bigger picture of plastic pollution by taking a deep dive look into recycling, the concepts of consumer/manufacturer responsibility, zero waste, and the link of plastic production to petroleum and climate change.

With the climate and the ocean now joining the top of the list of voter’s concerns, we will be side by side promoting the amazing efforts of our next generation ocean lovers by supporting efforts like the #YouthClimateStrike and will be pushing for folks to register and vote for our blue planet. Follow us on twitter (@W2Oorg) and Instagram (@womenworkingforoceans) for more information. 

Let’s go! We have our work cut out for us. Interested in participating in our small educational member’s gatherings? Want to become an ocean advocate? Join W2O!  Good for you; good for our ocean.

Boston Back Bay POD September 12th

Youth Climate Strike (Boston and around the Globe) September 20th

Sign up to get out the vote with W2O and the Environmental Voter Project

 

 

Size Matters..Our Ocean: Too Big to Ignore

By | Climate Action, Featured Post, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Women Working for Oceans (W2O) members joined our partners from the New England Aquarium in Washington DC this past week at the annual Capitol Hill Ocean Week (Chow) hosted by National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to learn about current ocean policy issues and visit with legislators.

Yes, we were reminded, size matters when it comes to protecting our blue planet. Our marine protected areas (MPAs) and ocean National Monuments provide habitat, act as nurseries and become underwater sea laboratories that enhance adaptability and resilience for our changing ocean. The bigger the protected area the better! These special places are the “yoga retreats” of the ocean; calm and nurturing, providing a pristine respite from stressors like ocean noise, entanglement, fishing, pollution, ship traffic, and other human-induced pressure that affect the health and wellbeing of all ocean animals. As ocean laboratories, Monuments and MPAs help scientist understand how climate change affects the rest of the planet, providing critical data on how species can thrive if left alone in an environment untouched by humans.

At Chow, Jane Lubchenco, former head of NOAA commented, “The oceans were once thought of as too big to fail. Now there is fear they are too big to fix. The ocean is central to our livelihood, so I say they are too big to ignore.” On a panel hosted by the Center for American Progress, Ms. Lubchenco along with NEAq President and CEO Vikki Spruill, and Kalani Quiocho, Native Hawaiian program specialist for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument stressed the importance of including climate change in the ocean dialogue.

Studies show that the ocean (including its wetlands, estuaries, seagrasses and other marine environments) helps remove carbon from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. The conversation about protecting our ocean goes hand in hand with protecting our entire planet from climate change. The designation of more marine National Monuments (like the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts right on our doorstep here in New England,) and other marine protected areas is critical for defending the ocean that gives us our food, security and even the air we breathe. The ocean is too big to ignore.

Happy World Ocean Day!

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument
Photo: OceanX

Meet Ocean Spirit Award Winner Bonnie Combs

By | Climate Action, Events, Featured Post, In the News, New England Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Sustainable Living, W2O Blog

Meet Bonnie Combs, our 2019 Ocean Spirit Award winner! Bonnie lives in Blackstone, a small Massachusetts community on the border of Rhode Island. Her journey to ocean conservation started years ago with a love of food and continues today with big ideas that exemplify how an army of one can influence two states and multiple communities, inspiring them to join the fight to protect our blue planet. When Bonnie tells her story, it’s best to have a map of Massachusetts and Rhode Island on hand! Her life has crisscrossed these borders and each state could claim her as their own ocean hero.

Bonnie’s motto is “be the change you wish to see” and believes everyone can make a difference when it comes to saving the planet. “Some people are just too shy or scared but I say if you just try and get out there, you never know how your efforts might make a difference,” she muses. Always a nature lover, Bonnie had her awakening to conservation while working as a chef at Whole Foods and was drawn into the company’s sustainability mission becoming Community Relations Team Leader. This work, in locations in MA and RI, became her conservation training ground and solidified her interest in working locally to spread the message that you too can choose healthy for your family and in turn, make our world a better place.

Bonnie is often using her skills as a trained chef to make sustainable meals or is firing up her sewing machine, stitching up t-shirts for reusable bags, sewing remnant fabric for cutlery wraps and repurposing animal feed bags. A creative energetic change maker, Bonnie is regularly organizing river and beach clean-ups across both MA and RI, teaching folks how to reuse and repurpose everyday materials to mitigate waste, and sharing her talents with the community by empowering others to learn how to make creative choices when it comes to refusing single-use plastic pollution.

Her life is bursting with community activism and her reach is wide. As Marketing Director at the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, Inc, she has developed and designed the Trash Responsibly and Fish Responsibly campaigns, making sure that waste and monofilament fishing line is recycled properly. A co-worker and volunteer coordinator of the Corridor, Suzanne Buchanan, describes Bonnie’s enthusiasm for her conservation work as contagious. “People stop by to donate feed bags for repurposing and you would think that she is being given a bouquet of flowers given her outburst of joy and the hugs that follows,” says Suzanne. “Bonnie is generous above and beyond as she gathers people together to think about their consumption and choices. She can’t go to bed until she has filled up a trash bag on one of her walks and on those walks she is stopping for conversations, inspiring others to join in.” Suzanne adds, “She makes me a better person and I am not the only one that would say that.”

Bonnie loves networking, outreach and the community participation in the building of a movement. She thinks big! Her newest project takes this concept on, literally. Bonnie is currently a “3D Resident Local Artist” at the Providence citywide public art initiative, The Avenue Concept, collecting a rainbow of plastic containers from across Rhode Island for an enormous public sculpture that will be assembled and constructed on site by famed New York artist Steven Siegel. The entire structure will be assembled from plastic waste including laundry jugs and personal and household cleaning products. The sculpture will be held together by discarded fishing nets and Bonnie hopes the art will spark discussions about how to protect marine life from entanglement and keep plastic pollution out of our waterways and ocean.

“The ocean to me (blending my passion for the environment and cooking) is the soup of life,” says Bonnie. “We all play a part in the recipe. If we want a well balanced, healthy and life-sustaining soup, we need to change our mindset and think of our daily actions as ingredients. Are we adding too much to the soup? If ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ we must be mindful of our individual impact and how collectively we all sit at the same table and share the same meal.”

Bonnie at The Avenue Concept

Congratulate Bonnie on May 21st at W2O’s On the Brink: Saving our Right Whale, Saving our Ocean. Bonnie will be presented the 2019 Ocean Spirit Award at this event that will educate the public about the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Find out how we can save this species, thought of as the “ocean’s canary in the coal mine,” and join us to take a closer look at how we can protect our blue planet. Click Here for Tickets!

 

 

 

 

 

Her Only Option: Youth #ClimateStrike

By | Action today, Climate Action, Featured Post, In the News, W2O Blog, Youth

High school senior Stephanie Kuplast from Southampton, Massachusetts tells us why organizing #ClimateStrike is her generation’s option for climate action. Stephanie joins a global movement of youth voices demanding that our elected officials make climate both a priority and bipartisan issue to save generations from the continued effects of human-induced climate and to protect what we love.

Coming to terms with my only option was not an easy path. As a young adult, learning about climate change has made my work in conservation infinitely more difficult, as every battle we win is dwarfed by the war we are quickly losing. I have volunteered at the National Marine Life Center for years, teaching a young crowd about seals, sea turtles, and whales. I know the tactics of rehabilitation and conservation work; I have borne witness to it. However, the work I love is nearly too depressing to continue.

Every single time I hear a 7-year-old leave our class declaring that she wants to be a marine biologist, my heart swells with pride knowing that I have helped another child love the ocean as I do. I can not feel that anymore; it is deeply painful to teach children to do so. Every summer there is a new generation of kids, and a new generation of sea turtles that face nearly insurmountable odds as the hot sand rearranges the ancient ratio for their temperature-dependent sex determination. I teach these kids to care and fight for the life of every single animal, knowing that after 150 million years of adaptation, now a few degrees threatens their entire existence.

I am a high school senior, a state organizer for Massachusetts Climate Strike, Women Working for Oceans member, and an ocean advocate. I can still remember the unbridled joy of meeting a horseshoe crab for the first time, and this curiosity has bred compassion that grows with every summer on Cape Cod. I fell in love with the ocean too soon to replace it with the apathy many are comfortable feeling as they discuss climate change.

I do not want to build a palatable movement.  My generation is desperate. Legislative inaction puts the world in a position to rise past the atmospheric threshold for carbon dioxide in 11 years.  This is not a problem we have 11 years to solve, as we all can feel the effects of climate change now. We must remind legislators that they are failing to do their job to protect us, our communities, and our economies. Youth climate activists face losing everything, but rather than accepting our rapidly approaching demise we have decided to fight. We were raised to be community leaders, hard workers, and to protect our families. We no longer have the time, so we will change the world as teenagers- exactly as we are, with everything we have. We sacrifice our youth and rewrite our plans for a future because people older than us, some driven by greed, have taken our hope for a safe future from us. We ask you to mobilize, urge your lawmakers to protect your future by co-sponsoring the Green New Deal and all legislative measures for climate action now.

Join us on March 15th, a global day of action led by youth and welcoming everyone, at the Climate Strike on the steps of Massachusetts State House from 11-3pm. This is a day of mobilization, taking time to leave school or work to reflect, discuss, and plan for our future. In addition to Boston, there are sister strikes being held in Cape Cod, Amherst, and Great Barrington (Monument Mountain Regional High School, 1 pm). If you cannot attend an organized strike, show us your support by wearing green, walking out of school or work for 11 minutes at 11 am, or by hosting a rally after school. Send us a photo of your initiative #climatestrikema.