Posted on May 19, 2017 by Jenna Valente
Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. As you are filling your lungs with a life-sustaining mixture of gasses, think about where it all comes from. Trees? Partially. Rainforests are responsible for nearly one-third of Earth’s oxygen, but the rest – and overwhelming majority – is produced by marine plants like phytoplankton, algae, and kelp. In the face of growing challenges like ocean acidification, marine debris, and dwindling fisheries, the protection of these vital ecosystems is becoming an effort reminiscent of both a marathon and a sprint – presenting issues that require swift and sustained action.
Take another deep breath and this time repeat the following mantra, “without any blue, there is no green.” Lately, this seems to be the motivation for many ocean experts, managers, and advocates, so much so that nearly 500 of the nation’s leading conservationists congregated in Washington, D.C. from May 9-11 for the bi-annual Blue Vision Summit to share their work, push forward on a united front, and seek inspiration from ocean champions like Dr. Sylvia Earle, Senator Robert Menendez, Ralph Nader, and many more. While in D.C., 175 Summit attendees representing 27 states participated in the largest-ever citizen lobby day for the ocean. The group met with congressional representatives and their staff to discuss strategies and actionable next steps for reducing marine debris, protecting our waters from offshore drilling, and ensuring the resiliency of our coast through smart, ecosystem-based management.
To conclude the Summit, the group took an important moment to acknowledge the progress, innovation, and cause for optimism in the world at the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards. Affectionately referred to as ‘The Academy Awards of the Sea’, this year’s ceremony recognized outstanding groups and individuals from varying and diverse sectors for their leadership in ocean and coastal protection. Among the many deserving recipients, the members of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Bodies were recognized for creating the first-ever regional ocean plans in the country. The plans were developed under the framework of the National Ocean Policy following several years of data collection, stakeholder engagement, and cross-sector collaboration and encourage more transparent, efficient, and informed decision-making for our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. We congratulate all award-winners and thank the Blue Vision Summit organizers, and look forward continuing the pursuit of our blue vision.
Note: Our title is the rallying cry of the Blue Frontier Campaign and the Blue Vision Summit. Founder and Executive Director, David Helvarg, came up with this saying along with “the seas are rising, and so are we”. Thanks David!