Healthy Oceans Blog

Restore America’s Estuaries: Our Coasts, Our Future, Our Choice

Last month, hundreds of leaders in coastal and estuarine management flocked to New Orleans to share their work, learn from peers, make new connections, and address environmental challenges. The 8th Annual Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and the 25th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society provided a valuable platform for policymakers, educators, conservationists, and many others to develop new partnerships and collaborate on issues like sea level rise, climate change, shellfish and wetland restoration, policy, and more.

The Healthy Oceans Coalition (HOC) had a strong presence at the conference, with five HOC organizations presenting on two National Ocean Policy (NOP) and ocean planning panels. Tim DillinghamSarah Winter Whelan, and Jenna Valente from the American Littoral SocietyPete Stauffer, Environmental Director for the Surfrider FoundationDanielle Duncan, Inland Ocean Delegation Organizer for the Colorado Ocean Coalition, and Jennifer Felt, Ocean Campaign Director for the Conservation Law Foundation represented the HOC during an interactive “coffee house” style session where participants were able to explore the creation and evolution of the NOP, discuss collaboration as a fundamental element for success, and brainstorm strategies for carrying and expanding upon that success into the future.

HOC Coordinator, Jenna Valente, joined John Hansen, Coordinator of the West Coast Regional Planning BodyNick Battista, Marine Programs Director for the Island Institute, and Elizabeth Semple, Manager of the Office of Coastal and Land Use at New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection on a panel following the premiere of Green Fire Productions‘ third installment of their Ocean Frontiers series. Panelists engaged in a lively discussion about the development of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regional ocean plans and why implementation is critical to sustaining the ocean environment, marine livelihoods, and coastal cultures. The Ocean Frontier film series serves as a useful educational tool for ocean and coastal managers to utilize during outreach activities surrounding the plans. By humanizing, visualizing, and weaving a narrative thread through the complex process that that is federal ocean policy and regional ocean planning, the films often speak to audiences in ways that words simply cannot.

The HOC would like to thank everyone involved in making the panels on the NOP and ocean planning successful. The robust and informative discussions were invaluable, insightful, and will help shape the future of ocean policy and advocacy as we move into a new year. The Coalition gets its strength from its numbers, appreciates our steadfast veterans, and looks forward to growing membership with new connections made at events like Restore America’s Estuaries, as well as continuing our work toward protecting our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes through advocating for sound ocean policy and planning.