Great Lakes Ocean Love

Posted by: Kelly Malinowsky

Almost two months ago today I accomplished a life-long dream that I have had for over 24 years: to live by the ocean.  After a week’s long drive from Michigan, I turned onto the 101 and stole my first glimpse of my dream, accomplished. The dark-blue and teal tides waved as I continued to my new home in Monterey. The saltwater scent rushed into the car as I inched closer.  Arriving three blocks away from the ocean, I hurried down to the shore and tasted the salty water in disbelief. After 24 years, I had made it!

Monterey, CA

Growing up in Michigan, frequent trips to the Great Lakes nurtured my love for water. Many summers were spent vacationing alongside Lake Huron’s shores with family in Port Austin, Michigan’s “tip of the thumb.”  When I saw the ocean for the first time, at age 5 with my mom in the Bahamas, the vastness of the ocean amazed me. We swam with dolphins and I instantly decided to become a Marine Biologist. I couldn’t wait to discover what other amazing life forms existed below the seemingly simple surface.

Myrtle Beach, SC

Now living in Monterey, with my home three blocks from the ocean, I feel a completeness that I never had before, even while living close to the Great Lakes. There is something to be said about the human connection to the ocean, a feeling of connectedness, of calmness, of completeness.

Surrounded by an ocean-conscious community, I have learned of the many threats our oceans face today, that need immediate attention, and affect so much life that we as humans haven’t even discovered yet (let alone our own).  When I think of my personal connection with the ocean, and all of the present-day issues facing our oceans due to human behavior, I feel an urgency to act.

Though I am two years away from working on ocean conservation as a career, there are things I can do now, small steps YOU can take every day, to improve the health of our oceans. Buy ocean-friendly seafood, educate yourself on these very real, immediate ocean issues, reduce your carbon footprint, and energy-use, use fewer plastic products and help keep our beaches clean, and support organizations working to protect the ocean, and take action!

Most importantly, take a walk down to the beach, put your feet in the sand, breathe in the air, and think of your own personal connection to the ocean. What can you do today to ensure future generations can have this same experience?


Date Posted: March 27, 2012 @ 12:00 pm Comments Off

A Tale of Two Bad Guys

Posted by: Sam Meehan

At Ocean Champions, we’re fortunate to work with a group of highly dedicated, energetic problem-solvers in Washington. We are honored to support these pro-ocean candidates. However, our framework for success also involves going after some of the worst anti-ocean members of Congress. In 2006, we targeted California Representative Richard Pombo, whose atrocious environmental record led various publications to describe him as “an eco-thug” and “an enemy of the Earth.” California League of Conservation Voters CEO Warner Chabot claimed, “Having Pombo represent a district that includes Yosemite National Park is like electing Godzilla as mayor of Toyko.” Ocean Champions played an important role in crafting and executing a successful campaign that tossed Pombo from office. Now, as our environment is in more need of protection than ever, we’ll be going a bad guy once again. This year, there are plenty to choose from, and in this blog post we’ll profile two of them: freshman Representatives, Steve Southerland of Florida and Jon Runyan of New Jersey.

Congressman Southerland, who was just awarded an abysmal 6% rating in the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard, has been hard at work attempting to cripple the EPA’s ability to enforce clean water standards. Some of Southerland’s lowlights:

  • Introduced H.R. 3856, the State Water Partnership Act, which seeks to obstruct the EPA’s ability to set basic nutrient content standards.
  • Voted in favor of an amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act that would have blocked the EPA from implementing new safety standards for Florida’s water (the state has been one of those worst hit by Harmful Algal Blooms).
  • Voted in favor of H.R. 1938, the bill designed to bully President Obama into signing a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Voted in favor of H.R. 1229, a bill which would expand lease sales for offshore oil drilling and scale back already anemic safety standards on oil rigs, barely a year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster blanketed his home state’s beaches with oil.

New Jersey’s Third District has a long history of support for ocean conservation.  Previous representatives John Adler (D) and Jim Saxton (R) were both endorsed ocean champions, but Jon Runyan has brought a screeching halt to that tradition. Given a paltry 20% rating in the latest LCV Scorecard, Runyan’s voting record articulates a clear anti-ocean stance, even though his home district is dependent on tourism attracted to local beaches.

  • Runyan voted in favor of (along with clean-water foe Steve Southerland) H.R. 2018, another bill designed to curb the EPA’s ability to establish and enforce basic water standards.
  • Voted in favor of the Keystone XL bill.
  • Voted in favor of H.R.s 2021 and 1229, two bad bills that would expand offshore drilling, cut back safety regulations, and exempt companies from having to implement available pollution control technologies.

This November, it will be more important than ever to stand up for the future of our oceans. In addition to supporting our allies on the hill, we will also be taking the fight to a bad ocean enemy. We hope you’ll fight with us by engaging in ocean politics more than ever before.  Together, we can help build a more pro-ocean Congress.

Date Posted: March 21, 2012 @ 10:12 am Comments Off

All Types of People Love the Ocean

Posted by: Whitney Anderson

Some of my earliest memories involve the ocean. Once when I was six or seven I watched a documentary on the giant squid. It said something to the effect that no one had ever seen one alive, but they knew that they existed because their remains had been found in the bellies of Sperm Whales. I decided that I was going to be the first person to see one alive. So on a family camping trip in Baja California, I searched every tide pool, inlet, and beach in the area and was upset to find not much more than anemones and sea crabs. My passion for the ocean has continued to intensify throughout my life and today I am a scuba divemaster studying international marine policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

There are many misconceptions about this ocean conservation field I have found myself in. General perception would indicate that people like me are vegetarian, that we care more about fish and whales then people, that there must be something in the water out here in California that makes people so hippy-ish, and my personal favorite, they must all be marine biologists. While there are vegetarians and marine biologists out here in sunny California, none of these perceptions must be true to love the ocean. I am none of these. I got my degree in the liberal arts, I like politics, and I eat meat like the majority of America. Truth is that all types of people love the ocean, and all types can help protect her. It is odd that we call this planet of ours “Earth”. Anyone who has ever seen a picture of our planet from space can confirm, we are an ocean plant. The ocean is the greatest resource we have; it mitigates weather, takes carbon out of the atmosphere, provides food, biodiversity, entertainment, lifestyle, etc. I beg the question: Why wouldn’t we all protect her?

Date Posted: March 16, 2012 @ 3:28 pm Comments Off

Why Ocean Lovers Should Do More Politically

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

Recently, we’ve been writing a lot about Senator Olympia Snowe’s sudden retirement announcement.  We discussed at length the impact this has on ocean politics, and will continue to work closely to find and help the best pro-ocean candidate to replace her.  Today, I read an op-ed from Senator Snowe on why she’s leaving, and it made me want to write this quick blog.

First, you’ve got to read the Senator’s op-ed in the Washington Post.  It’s thoughtful and interesting, and is consistent with ideas she’s expressed to us recently.  It also lays bare a critique that many people have these days; the Senate is simply a dysfunctional mess right now.

We don’t disagree, and many of our friends feel the same way.  Unfortunately, a fairly common response we see from some of our friends is to disengage from politics and from the democratic process.  On this, we vehemently disagree.  The only way to fix a broken system is to engage in more intensely than ever.  In her op-ed, Senator Snowe implores people to do this, saying:

“For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets. That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail.”

This is what we do.  Ocean Champions works with Members from both parties to try and find common ground on good policies that will help the ocean.  When that happens, we applaud and reward the Members who made it happen. These may not be “perfect” environmental solutions, but they are positive, they’re the ones that are able to get done, and they keep us moving forward.

I must also say that as I’ve gotten to know our endorsed champions better over time, I am almost always impressed that these are the people who will work across the aisle to keep moving forward for ocean health (and for other important issues as well). These are people you can feel good about, trying to build a democratic process that you can cheer.

So, ocean lovers out there, don’t walk away from the mess you see.  Help us solve it by engaging in democracy and politics more deeply than ever.  Together, we can take our government back from polarizing special interests and restore the place of consensus building public interests.

Date Posted: March 2, 2012 @ 10:20 am Comments Off