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

Extinction Is Not An Option: Protecting the Right Whale

By | Action today, Featured Post, New England Aquarium, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Dr. Scott Kraus believes that until North Atlantic right whales find safer habitat it is our job to protect them. “Biology is on our side,” says Dr. Krause, “because right whales will live a long life if we leave them alone.”

Like most marine mammals, the right whale relies on sound to navigate, find a mate, feed, and migrate with offspring. Ocean noise is just one of the stressors that can contribute to their poor health.  “Imagine that the ocean is the right whale’s living room, dining room, and bedroom,” says Dr. Kraus describing how we have become unwelcome visitors introducing ocean noise, ship strikes, and entanglement to their home and bringing the right whale to the brink of extinction. “Human ocean activity is disrupting the whale’s existence and my team and I believe that extinction is not an option. Saving the right whale is important for saving our ocean.”

Dr. Kraus spoke to a group of about 300 at W2O’s event “On The Brink: Saving Our Right Whale, Saving Our Ocean and shared his experiences learning from these animals. As Vice President, Chief Scientist and Senior Science Advisor at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, Dr. Kraus has been studying right whales for nearly 40 years. Of the remaining 400 right whales, most have been entangled in strong ropes used by the fishing industry to lift gear off of the ocean floor. Entanglement puts enormous stress on these animals causing a decline in breading and birth rates and often leads to death. Now alternative strategies for using whale friendlier fishing gear are being developed and there is an increased awareness of how important whales, which bring nutrients to all marine life, are to the entire food chain. These animals are the “canary in the coal mine” of our ocean and their fight for life is a reminder to all of us that we need a healthy ocean for a healthy planet.

Find out ways you can help save the North Atlantic right whale HERE

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.

 

Nominate for the 2019 Ocean Spirit Award

By | Featured Post, In the News, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

 

 

This year will be the third year that we have presented the Ocean Spirit Award to someone that embodies our mission of protecting our blue planet through education that inspires advocacy and action. Past winners have included Lori LeFranc and her students (pictured above) for their work on the successful campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in Ipswich and Sierra Rothberg, a Dorchester resident that created a sustainable way to provide reusable bags to those that might be in need through her Boomerang Bag program in and around Boston.

The 2019 Ocean Spirit winner is announced and the award will be presented at our May event On the Brink: Save our Right Whale. Save our Ocean. Who is your ocean hero?

The W2O Ocean Spirit Award will be given to the individual that has encompassed our mission of educating and inspiring action by using grass roots initiatives towards protecting our blue planet.  

Criteria:

This nominee is a woman because we support the notion of empowering our ocean sisters to take a lead in protecting our blue planet.

This nominee is a resident of New England.

As someone who has initiated a grass roots effort, this nominee has a story about their conservation vision and evidence of measurable outcomes. Some examples might be someone who has worked on a successful campaign to change legislation or worked to change community habits around an environmental/ocean issue. It might be someone who has influenced change using art, music, or education and has inspired a group to take on action around the topic of ocean health.

We hope to present this award to someone who has not been widely recognized in the past for her efforts. Instead, an “unsung hero” that embodies the notion that “you too can make a difference.” We ask that you look beyond W2O board members.

We are delighted to receive your nomination for the W2O Ocean Spirit Award!

Please include:

  • Nominees name
  • Nominees email address and phone number
  • District or town the nominee is from (so we can notify local press on behalf of our winner)
  • A short paragraph about your nominee (300 words or less) with supporting documentation that will help us evaluate measurable outcomes that make this candidate noteworthy.

Please submit to ellenforW2O@gmail.com by February 15th, 2019 with 2019 Ocean Spirit Award in the subject line.

 

Protecting the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts: Tips from a Pro

By | Uncategorized, W2O Blog

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the first fully protected marine area in the US Atlantic. It shelters vibrant underwater communities consisting of fragile deep-sea corals, diverse schools of fish and endangered species, including the North Atlantic right whale. Shortly after its designation on September 15, 2016, the Monument was put in jeopardy by our administration and the fishing industry who threatened to open up the Monument to commercial fishing. Our concerns now grow with the proposed opening of the Atlantic Ocean to new offshore oil and gas exploration which would put thousands of already vulnerable species at risk and cause devastating impacts to the ecosystem.  Protecting the Monument is no easy task.  It takes the hard work of biologists, attorneys, educators, advocates, conservationists and concerned citizens to keep attacks on its security at bay. 

Women Working for Oceans has long supported the Monument’s designation and recognized it vital importance to the health of our coast. Protection of our coasts and educating the public about the importance of marine protected areas is part of their mission. As a new member of the Young Professionals Action Committee at W2O, I wanted to investigate ways in which anyone—from the active advocate to the middle school biologist-to-be—can take actions to effectively defend the Monument.  So, I sat down with Allison Lorenc, Policy Analyst and Outreach Organizer for the Oceans Team at Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to find out the most effective tools.

As an Oceans Policy Analyst and Outreach Organizer, Allison has met with stakeholders throughout New England to gain a broad range of support for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument. An exciting part of her job is learning just how many supporters there are; the recreational community, the conservation community, coastal businesses, the tourism industry, academia, zoos and aquariums are just some of the teams batting for the Canyons and Seamounts.  

Allison says that education is one of the most powerful tools we can use to help defend the Monument. “The more informed the stakeholder, the more empowered they are to stand up for support of the Monument,” Allison explains.  She finds that by communicating the major positive impacts that protecting special places has on the planet and economy can help others understand the benefit of maintaining the integrity of the Monument.  She says, “Protected areas are key to maintaining healthy ecosystems, which in turn help support a robust economy and a happy lifestyle. Additionally, protecting special places like the Canyons and Seamounts can provide scientists with an underwater laboratory for studying the ocean and assessing the impacts of climate change.”  Informing the community of these benefits only strengthens conservation efforts.

Allison Lorenc

Advocates for the protection of the Monument, including CLF, W2O and NEAq, encourage you to speak up to defend our coasts and ocean. Simply by calling or writing and asking our own elected officials to defend our Monuments can make a difference.

Get Involved

Join W2O for a film screening and chat to learn how you can protect our coasts from offshore oil and gas exploitation on Thursday, January 10th at 6:30pm. 

The evening begins with a screening of Working Films short feature Shore Stories, about offshore drilling and gas exploration, its development and production and its impacts on local communities. Our expert panel will end the evening with a robust audience-led Q&A session moderated by Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium.

This event is free but you must reserve a seat

Blog contributor Cori Roach is a W2O Young Professionals Action Committee member and Research Associate for Conservation Law Foundation.  She gets her biology fix by volunteering with the New England Aquarium’s Rescue and Rehabilitation team.  She is passionate about ocean conservation and finds intrinsic value in every living being.

The Right Whale to Save

By | Action today, In the News, New England Aquarium, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Whale researcher Monica Zani with Captain Greg from the Liberty Clipper

The sun might have been setting Friday night on Boston Harbor, but a schooner of 80 Women Working for Oceans (W2O) members and their friends were just getting started by raising the sails to kick off year-long deep dive dedicated to saving our iconic North Atlantic right whale. After last year’s unprecedented 17 right whale deaths from both entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes, the North Atlantic right whale is now considered among the most endangered of marine animals in our ocean.

The message of the evening is one of empowerment. “We humans hold the power to save the right whale, through increased research and new technology along with digging into our hearts. We can stop the killing and save this intelligent and family oriented whale,” said co-founder and W2O Director Barbara Burgess.

W2O members and their guests were joined onboard the Liberty Clipper by Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life of the New England Aquarium’s right whale researcher Monica Zani, who has been studying these animals for over two decades.

Zani explained the challenges facing these whales, aptly named because of its size, ability to float, an abundance of oil, and slow speed targeted by whalers in the 18th century as the “right whale” to kill. Some of these same characteristics pose challenges now as this whale lives in urban areas along the eastern seaboard, putting it in the pathway of lobster and crab traps, shipping lanes, and other man-made pollution.

Since the 70s the entire population of North Atlantic right whales have been identified and tracked through a catalog maintained at the New England Aquarium with contributions by the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium. The animals are identified by physical markings, like color, fluke shape and health. This allows researchers to trace family groups, births and deaths, as well as the individual health of specific whales over time, including where they migrate to for calving, how they feed, and other life-history traits important to protecting a species.

W2O Member Leigh Tappen provided a family tree of four generations of right whales, underscoring the loss that even one female represents for the future of the species. As Zani summarized, paraphrasing Dr. Scott Krause also of the Anderson Cabot Center, helping the right whale recover is something we already know how to do. “We simply need to stop killing them,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The will to help our North Atlantic right whale among W2O members and friends is strong. A heart-felt thank you to guests on our sunset sail, who started off this year right by signing over sixty letters to thank Senator Elizabeth Warren for her work in co-sponsoring the Save Right Whales Act of 2018. If passed into law this act will allot $5 million per year over ten years (2018-2028) in federal funds for conservation programs. The act aims to fund research for solutions that will reduce the lethal effects of entanglements in fishing gear and vessel collisions, the first and second leading cause of right whale deaths respectively.

W2O Shawna Giggey braving the wind while collecting signatures for our letter to Sen Warren

Partnering with Lobstermen

This past summer, W2O and the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life met with the heads of the New England’s lobsterman associations including Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobsterman Association Beth Casoni, Executive Director of Maine Lobstermen’s Association Patrice McCarron, Supervisor of Marine Programs
NH Fish and Game Department Cheri Patterson, Erin Burke from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and Erin Summers, Director, Division of Biological Monitoring Maine Department of Marine Resources to learn more about one of New England’s oldest and most sustainable seafood industries: lobstering.  It was an inspiring day of information sharing about the lobster population and their thoughts on difficulties facing the right whale.

Will You Help?

Please help us protect our marine treasures and heritage and defend the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first marine monument in the Atlantic, from being opened up to fishing by signing and sharing this petition in your networks. Read more about what’s at stake in this editorial by New England Aquarium CEO Vikki Spruill.

Blog contributor and W2O Dir. Laura Parker Roerden is Executive Director and Founder of Ocean Matters

 

 

 

 

 

Find Your Group: Forming W2O’s Young Professional Action Committee

By | Action today, Featured Post, In the News, New England Aquarium, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

Board Member Emily Conklin shares the story behind forming W2O’s Young Professional Action Committee

I have always considered myself a problem-solver, a detail-oriented perfectionist. If something had to get done, whether finishing grad school or finding an apartment, I’d make an orderly list and move through the steps until the task was accomplished. Protecting the environment doesn’t have an easy answer or fit into this strict model.  You can’t do it on your own. You need to find your group.

I found W2O as an intern in 2016. It was a strong answer to my need to join a community to advocate for our ocean. Over the two years I’ve been with the organization, W2O has spoken out, raised our signs in demonstrations, and lobbied our legislators about important environmental issues that impact us all. The women I have met through this group are passionate and serious about building a community that strives to make sustainable choices. Being part of this group fueled my determination to make positive change. I want to help shape the story of our blue planet so everyone can see and find their role in protecting it.  

As I moved from intern to board member and social media manager, I wondered how we could expand this messaging to highlight activist passion in a more diverse base. With the recent increase in youth involvement inspired by the Women’s March, March for Science and the recent March for the Ocean, including younger voices and perspectives is forefront in my mind.  More young people are raising their voices and mobilizing for causes they care about. As a young professional woman invested in the future of our environment and communities, I have felt the pull to stand up for our blue planet. I wanted to see how W2O could rise to meet this call.

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by intelligent, environmentally minded women on whom I could test out my burgeoning idea. A community of educators, artists, activists, students- all with a different perspective and unique ideas on our one common problem: how do we live in a way that supports our livelihood and our planet?

“Hey,” I asked them, “would you want to be part of a young professionals group that grapples with these issues?” Across the board, the answer was a resounding yes.

Our first meeting was an informational gathering where attendees enjoyed pizza while I explained what I had in mind. I told them I wanted to take W2O’s mission of understanding and advocating for our ocean and expand it to better fit the demands, restrictions, and interests of young professionals’ lifestyles. There are so many voices and ideas that we haven’t been hearing on these issues, and I have been at a loss to find a space where genuine discourse is created and encouraged. I say we make one. The women in that room came for different reasons, from different places, but we were collectively energized by the idea of cultivating productive discussion surrounding the often troubling, discouraging problems we face. That day, we threw around questions like: How do we make sustainable choices without breaking the (sometimes very tight) budget? How do we make a policy impact and responsibly raise our civic voices through voting, rallying, and all around advocating? Do you all feel hopeless and, if you do, what can be done to pull us out of that feeling and move forward? And that was just the beginning. 

We may not have the solutions, but there is inherent value in finding allies and creating an opportunity to discuss the intricacies of the issues we face.

I left that meeting pumped. My generation is far from apathetic! They want to engage! And they’re willing to help me create a forum to do so! From that meeting, W2O’s Young Professional Action Committee (YPAC) was formed.

Our main goal is to create an accessible, inclusive space for folks to engage with the dilemmas facing the world around us. The Action Committee will take our concerns and drivers to create programming that W2O’s young professional members can engage with and enjoy. We want to work together to make sure we all understand the threats, to our planet and to ourselves, and that we all feel safe to participate in building solutions. Every stressor is an opportunity for discourse; every perspective is a chance for fresh analysis. Whether it’s a beach clean up, a voter registration event or a conservation-focused happy hour, we aim to make a space where young people of all genders and backgrounds are welcomed to voice their concerns and weigh in on solutions. I can’t wait to bring everyone to the table. I can’t wait to help people find their group, as I have found mine.

Sometimes, we might still feel hopeless. It’s ok- that’s why we have each other. Right now, I feel empowered by this group, and we’ve barely even started.

 

Emily Conklin with W2O’s 2017 keynote speaker Liz Cunningham

 

For questions about YPAC, please contact Emily Conklin at emilyforw2o@gmail.com. To join W2O at the young professional level, visit our Membership page. Our next young professional oriented event will be a happy hour meeting at The Reef, after which we’ll attend NEAq’s lecture series installment from MCAF Fellow Kerstin Forsberg on Manta Ray conservation in Peru: September 26th at 5:30pm. Follow us on social media for upcoming events!

We Marched. Now Vote Ocean

By | Action today, Events, New England Aquarium, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

W2O descended on Washington D.C. with thousands of other ocean defenders from around the country at the beginning of the June to attend Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), an annual event to highlight US policy and the importance of our coasts and inland waters. This year for the first time, in addition to the conference, gala and partner events, organizers National Marine Sanctuary Foundation added a “day on the Hill.” W2O and a New England coalition met with U.S. Representatives, Senators and their congressional aids to:

  • Encourage increased funding for NOAA and support public investment in ocean and Great Lakes conservation and science
  • Defend the integrity of all National Monuments designated by the Antiquities Act like our North Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts, the first ocean monument in the Atlantic
  • Urge Congress to sustain important ocean science-based management provisions like the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act

The week ended with The March for Our Ocean, produced by Blue Frontier and partners to bring ocean awareness to the public across the globe. Thousands marched with a renewed purpose of ocean advocacy. Now what? Time to vote!

We are all constituents of our elected officials and we have enlisted them to act on our behalf. Yet somehow, the ocean is not often on the agenda of what we ask from them. For coastal communities, the ocean is always reminding us of its importance. We rely upon it for food, tourism and the air we breathe. When, during a weather event, the ocean lashes back at us we see and feel the fiscal consequences of erosion, storm surge, and lost industry opportunity. When the storm is over, we take the ocean for granted and assume it will continue to provide for us. Out of sight and out of mind, to some, the ocean is way down on their totem pole of important issues.

Let’s face it, today there is a myriad of issues worthy of our concern. When we marched for the ocean, we showed unity across the spectrum in the knowledge that we have just one ocean. We need a healthy ocean for our own health, whether or not you live on the coast and regardless of your political views.

Just this month, the Administration revoked the 2010 executive order that created the National Ocean Policy. The new plan, reviewed by our partners at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium “abolishes the Regional Planning Bodies that helped New England create an inclusive, coordinated ocean plan and removes language that focuses on conservation and climate resilience efforts for our ocean.” In this statement in support of science-based decision making, the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life says, “We believe the best way to create sustainable oceans—both environmentally and economically—is through strategic and transparent planning, science-based decision-making, and collaborative partnerships across all sectors. We consider the current Administration’s decision to revoke the 2010 executive order that created the National Ocean Policy and the National Ocean Council shortsighted.”

Supporting legislation that defends our ocean from harmful action is part of our W2O mission. We promise to speak up and out, marching and meeting, but we need you to use your voice as well and vote with our ocean in mind. Everything flows to the ocean and no matter where you live, there are initiatives for legislation that will affect the quality of lakes, streams and rivers that flow to the sea.

If you vote, thank you! If you wonder if your vote will count, please consider the alternative. The ocean is what sustains us and gives us life. The ocean needs your vote.

Stories of Action Give Us Hope for Our Ocean

By | Action today, Events, Featured Post, New England Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Past Events, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, W2O Blog

It’s as if Mother Nature herself rolled out the red carpet for W2O’s recent Think Big event at the New England Aquarium (NEAQ). Spring finally came to Boston Harbor and filled the tent with fresh sea air; Dr. Asha de Vos inspired with stories of her unlikely journey to becoming a marine biologist and blue whale expert in Sri Lanka; and our guests gave generously to support scientists working worldwide on the forefront of marine conservation through the NEAQ’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF).  But the real stars of the day were each of you—W2O Members and their friends– who attended and left with plans and dedicated actions to take on behalf of our ocean. In response to past events, attendees have shared stories of how they have changed minds in their community about using single-use plastic, have researched and purchased more efficient cars and have stepped up to speak out on behalf of our ocean at the MA State House and in Washington D.C. 

We delight in our being able to produce sold-out events, but the real success of W2O is when the topic of our events resonate with attendees and then, in turn, they take what they have learned and leave passionate and empowered to join our ocean workforce. After hearing Dr. Ahsa de Vos at our recent event, Montessori teacher, Dilani Vytheswaran wrote to tell us how she brought Dr. de Vos’s message about the importance of protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale to her young students.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my day and the lecture by Dr. de Vos – it was informative and inspirational.  I loved when she said ‘do what you love and you will do it well.’  I think it will become one of my all-time favorite mantras – personally and professionally! After yesterday’s lecture, I was inspired to talk to the children in my class about the North Atlantic right whale, and the urgency in protecting them.  We discussed ocean pollution and the things we could all do to help make sure the right whale does not make it on to the list of ‘extinct.’  I encouraged the children to speak up and do their part by not littering, reminding their caregivers to use reusable bags, and, to pack their lunches in reusable containers etc.”

Teacher Dilani Vytheswaran with Dr. Asha de Vos at Think Big in May

According to the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, the number of North Atlantic right whales are in decline because of stressors including ship strikes and entanglement. We need whales for a healthy ocean. They regulate the ecosystem and are our ocean’s unintended farmers, fertilizing the plants that give life to all ocean animals. Our ocean feeds us, gives us joy, regulates our weather and is the economic engine of our planet.

Thank you Dr. Asha de Vos for your inspirational talk and thank you Dilani Vytheswaran for spreading the word, to our youth, their families and the school community about protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale. It is stories like these that give us hope for our ocean.