Did you know that June 8 is World Oceans Day? Yes, it’s true; ever since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, people and groups from around the world have used the occasion to celebrate the ocean and take steps to protect it. In 2002, World Oceans Day received a further boost when the United Nations officially recognized the event as occurring on June 8th each year.
For Surfrider Foundation, celebrating World Oceans Day comes naturally. As any Surfrider member can tell you, we’re passionate about all things ocean. Rain or shine, you will find us surfing, swimming, kayaking, and beach going from coast to coast. We’re also really passionate about protecting these special places. Whether picking up trash in Huntington Beach, testing water quality in Puerto Rico, or fighting oil rigs off the Atlantic coast, our grassroots network is dedicated to protecting the ocean and coasts that we love
So what can Surfrider and our partners achieve through World Oceans Day in 2017? Well, for starters, there remains much about the ocean to celebrate, from the strange and obscure creatures of the deep to the largest animals ever to inhabit the earth. The ocean also provides critical services to humans that must be protected. It generates the oxygen we breathe, cleans the water we drink, helps feed us, and regulates our climate. And, oh yes, the ocean provides limitless inspiration and enjoyment to millions around the globe.
Sadly, our ocean is suffering enormously from the effects of pollution, development, fishing pressure, and climate change. Humankind is on the brink of destroying a resource so large and abundant that, just a century ago, was considered beyond the scale of real human damage. How can humans simultaneously celebrate the ocean’s magnificence while trashing it in every way imaginable? There may be no greater example of this contradiction than President Donald Trump’s recent June Ocean Month proclamation that reads like an industry wish list to develop and pollute the ocean.
This is why a grassroots approach to protecting our ocean is needed more than ever. Whether by advocacy or stewardship - or preferably both - fundamental changes must be driven from the bottom-up. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “If the people lead, the leaders will follow”. So, on June 8, let us all be reminded of our responsibility as ocean advocates to protect this incredible resource for now and the future.
Here are the Surfrider Foundation’s 3 pledges for World Ocean Day 2017. What are yours? Join the conversation at @surfrider #WorldOceansDay.
1) Stop new offshore drilling
Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous practice that pollutes the ocean and puts our coastal communities at risk of oil spills. Last year, the federal government decided to protect the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic from any new offshore drilling through 2022. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has announced plans to revise this decision. Over the next year, the Department of the Interior and Congress will consider options for expanding offshore drilling to regions including the Mid- and South Atlantic, Florida’s Gulf Coast, the California Coast, and the Arctic Ocean. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior has announced plans to allow seismic blasting off the Atlantic coast to identify new oil and gas resources. Our best hope to stop these proposals is for citizens to speak out against new oil drilling in our ocean. Please visit our campaign page to learn more how you can take action!
2) Defend marine protected areas
Conserving marine habitats is one of the best ways to protect and restore the ocean. With ecosystems under siege from a variety of different threats – and top predators like billfish reduced by 90% – marine protected areas (MPAs) provide safe havens for marine life to grow and thrive. However, President Trump has issued executive orders to review and possibly revoke marine monuments and national marine sanctuaries from Hawaii to California to New England. The Department of the Interior has launched a 60-day comment period to gather input on this issue. As surfers, we are privileged to recreate in the ocean and have a stake in protecting marine ecosystems that enhance the surfing experience. You can submit comments in support of national monuments and marine sanctuaries by visiting the Department of the Interior’s public comment portal and entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the search bar.
3) Plan for our ocean’s future
Across the U.S., Surfrider is participating in regional ocean planning to protect outstanding ocean and coastal areas before they become threatened by development. As industries like oil and gas, offshore wind, sand mining, and aquaculture stake their claim to the ocean, Surfrider is working to identify keys habitats and recreational areas so we can steer new development to less sensitive places. For nearly a decade, Surfrider has represented coastal recreation users in ocean planning in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and West Coast. In all three regions, government bodies are working with stakeholders and the public to develop and implement ocean plans. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu writes that, “Victorious warriors win first, and then go to war.” In that spirit, Surfrider is embracing forward-thinking approaches to ensure that our ocean will remain vibrant and accessible to the public for generations to come. To learn more click here.