05 • 22 • 2015

Surfrider College Clubs take to Capitol Hill, Part 3

By Surfrider Foundation

Cal State Channel Island College Club Chair Kevin Piper shares his experience attending 5th Annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC May 11-14th. This is a 4 part series.

Kevin Piper, Cal State Channel Islands Club Chair, Junior

The Blue Vision Summit, during the week of May 11th of 2015 in Washington, D.C, gathered some of the best and brightest minds in the nation in regard to ocean conservation at a single time. As a supporter of this effort, I was impressed by the depth of knowledge that was accessible to me during this trip. Although there were many, here are my top three favorite lessons learned:  

1. The time to act is now. Ocean acidification, offshore drilling, and unsustainable fishing practices are all issues that are happening right now! These individual catastrophes are being fought in different parts of the world but similar to the interconnectedness of our ocean’s ecosystem, they are all intertwined. For this reason, we need to think globally and act locally about these issues. When envisioning the color of a future earth, humanity has to ask itself if it prefers a vibrant blue and green, or a grayish-brown and black.

2. We need to act and not be acted upon. Mayor Serge Dedina of Imperial Beach, San Diego said to me personally following one of the Ocean Hill Day congressional meetings, “We need to act and not be acted upon because many of these environmental issues are hidden from the public view. The issues are hidden because those creating them are hiding them.” For example, gas and oil companies are increasing their exploration all over our coasts; they do this using seismic air-gun blasting processes to send frequencies much higher than those of marine mammals, killing and injuring them in the process, yet many of us have no idea. It takes effort to find things that are hiding. We wouldn’t know any of this if there weren’t conservation groups doing their share of research and investigation. It all comes down to individual and institutional decision making, if we don’t seek and uncover the problems, we will be acted upon. Not all of us need to be scientists. We all have tools available to us to act, and one is as simple as a reusable water bottle.

3. Change can be achieved. The ocean is currently sick and as its stewards, it is our responsibility to help it get better. Like our bodies, the ocean has the ability to repair itself; it just needs to be taken care of. Even in its current struggles, the ocean is the reason why we are able to breathe, creating 50% of our oxygen and absorbing our CO2.  If we want a healthy Earth, we need a healthy ocean. As long as we can continue to change public perception and policy, which we hopefully did during our time in D.C, we can reverse some of these effects.  We know that we can do this. It’s as simple as this: our ocean is dirty; it’s time to clean it up.