Nick Leibham, CA’s 50th District

Posted by: David Wilmot

A sun-drenched garden in San Diego’s north county may seem like an odd place to support a battle. But that is exactly where I was last week, at the for Congress fundraiser. Ocean Champions recently endorsed Leibham and we are doing all we can to make sure he gets to Washington DC.

Ocean Champions is not the only supporter of Nick Leibham. Special guest, Former Vice President Al Gore spoke passionately about why, why the people of California need Nick in Congress, why the nation needs Nick in Congress, and why the environment and oceans need Nick in Congress.

Leibham is in a tough, tough race against incumbent Brian Bilbray. Bilbray claims he is for ocean protection but acts to the contrary. He reminds us of those guys who would put surfboards on the racks of their cars and drive to the beach but never surf. They wanted to act like surfers to be cool and impress the girls, but never had the guts to paddle out. Fortunately, Ocean Champions had the opportunity to set the record straight by point-by-point addressing Brian Bilbray‘s misleading claims.

(Gore knows a thing or two about the oceans – he credits his teacher, Roger Revelle, professor and former Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, of inspiring his work in global climate change)

Having Gore at your fundraiser says a lot about the candidate. Al Gore is only campaigning for a handful of candidates this election. Nick Leibham must truly be something (we think so). Nick Leibham is a friend of the oceans and is exactly the kind of leader we need in Congress.

This is a very tough district, and Nick is running an excellent campaign. But, it’s a tough one that needs all of our help. In this very important and close race, Ocean Champions is asking you to join us, along with Al Gore, in supporting Nick.

Date Posted: September 26, 2008 @ 12:25 pm Comments Off

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted by: Maureen Wilmot

Part of my job is to scout the news and find articles about the oceans. Not a bad gig – to read the paper while drinking my morning cup of coffee. (I am NOT on a coffee break,“ I’m working)

This week, these three articles caught my attention.

The Good.
We’ve all seen the predictions about over fishing, pollution and habitat destruction leading to the collapse of the world’s fisheries. Well, Ken Weiss’ article in the Los Angeles Times reporting on the recent study that found sharing the catch is good for fisherman and fish.

Steve Gaines, a marine ecologist at UC Santa Barbara and his colleagues studied 50 years of data on more than 11,000 fisheries worldwide and found where fishermen were given individual quotas or share catches, the fisheries were less likely to collapse.

This method gives fishermen exclusive rights to a portion of the catch and can preserve fisheries and help stocks recover. While there still needs to be set catch limits for the overall fishery, share quotas changes the incentives of trying to out fish each other and switch to longer-term conservation. While this is not a fix for all the fishery related problems, it is a step in the right direction.

The Bad.
Ok, one step forward and two steps back. reporting on the release of the Congressionally mandated National Research Council report ran in several papers around the country. This study found that current “efforts to reduce and prevent ocean debris are inadequate and likely to worsen.

The report recommends Congress to designate a lead agency to address problems like derelict fishing gear, ship waste and abandon vessels. We’ll let our ocean champions know to get moving on this. In the meantime, expect to see more photos of Hawaiian monk seals tangled in fishing nets and stomach contents of marine birds.

The Ugly.
Actually, this one is scary ugly.
The Telegraph in the United Kingdom ran an article about Russia threatening to seize swathe of Arctic. Where once Russia’s leverage in the world depended on its military might, now it is relying on laying claim to the vast reserves of oil and gas lying under the Arctic Ocean.

It seems with the polar ice caps melting due to global warming (which is caused by burning fossil fuels), has opened areas in the ocean for oil and gas drilling. My, my, my, isn’t that ironic.

Vladimir Putin, now Russia’s prime minister, has said global warming is good for Russia,“ melting its vast icy territories to reveal previously inaccessible oil and gas reserves.

So let me get this straight: drilling for oil in the oceans so that we can burn more fossil fuels which leads to polar ice melting which makes oil in the Arctic Ocean more accessible to Russia to drill for oil and then we must buy oil from Russia because we spent time drilling for oil instead of investing in alternate energy sources than fossil fuels is good for national security?

Ok, after that run on sentence I now do NEED a coffee break.

Date Posted: September 25, 2008 @ 4:53 pm Comments Off

Drill Here? Drill Now?

Posted by: Mike Mishler

So it looks like they’ll be drilling this week. Of course first there will be some exploratory poking and prodding then of those dreaded words, “You may feel a little discomfort”, followed by the drilling, the tears, some blood, and finally, “Rinse please.”

I’m talking about the dentist.
Say Ahh

What where you thinking?

The Big Rig Newton

Oh that’s right, this is the week our representatives in Washington will carefully consider allowing offshore drilling so that in 20 years gas will only be $22.47 a gallon instead of $23.17 a gallon. (Hint for economists. When making up a number always make it some odd number, that way it makes it look more real.)
I expect there will be angry voices invoking national security needs, yelling about the need to act now without wasting a lot of time thinking. I expect there will be a sound clip along the lines of:

We have wasted too much time talking and thinking. What has thinking ever done for us? We have seen the danger of thinking too much and the paralysis it causes, Okay, not in the last eight years, but in the past thinking and reasoned debate has only led to trouble. Where would we be if our founding fathers had wasted their time thinking and debating when they founded the greatest nation in the history of the world?

Meanwhile the American driver, in the throes of ecstasy, will be dancing around like Maria in West Side Story singing “Drill here!/Drill Now!” as they try on pretty dresses and an even bigger SUV. At the same time, two rival street gangs, Hell’s Speculators and the Oil Barons, will dance together on the gridlocked streets singing, “I want to drill in America/Oil is free in America!”

Wow, I think I could get elected on that platform.

Here’s the deal though, I know that going to the dentist it is going to cost me money. No matter what I do, floss, brush regularly, and use baking soda instead of toothpaste. (I don’t know what good it does but you never have to add salt to your food again.) I do all the things I’m supposed to do and it doesn’t matter. Turns out you can brush too hard, floss too much and baking soda? What the heck where you thinking?
“Well, it’s natural.”
“Yeah, so is sand.”

The thing is, I can never escape the fact that as I get older my teeth are wearing down and I will have more problems. So the answer, in this case, apparently is, “Drill baby, Drill!” But do you ever pause to wonder about the motives of the people pushing the hardest to drill offshore? Or who is most likely to profit from hasty decisions? (Paging Dr. Barrel, Dr Oil Barrel.) At least my dentist takes x-rays, shows me the problem, and explains the options before the drill comes out. And if he drills I don’t have to wait decades to know if it helped. I do have to say, I’m still a little creeped out when he goes on about national security needs and wraps himself in the flag just before shooting me full of Novocain. But hey, what is it they say about pain and gain, or is it numb and dumb?

Date Posted: September 17, 2008 @ 9:54 am

Focus On The Family

Posted by: Denise

Yes. Indeed. Lets do just that.

Did you all hear about how NRDC won a BIG SETTLEMENT in the beach water lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency? Yessiree! Now mom’s and dad’s can be safely forewarned about the potential risks of those icky skin rashes, ear infections, and the dreaded, and highly infectious, pinkeye— as well as even more serious illnesses like hepatitis and meningitis. Bleeeeuck! Our kids are actually getting this stuff from swimming in dirty oceans. (Have we mentioned how important it is to improve the health of our oceans?).

As a mom, and surfer, with sons who surf and body board, I want to extend a BIG THANKS to our friends at NRDC for insisting on improved testing of water quality. “This is a major victory for everyone who wants to go to the beach without worrying about getting sick,” said Nancy Stoner, Director of NRDC’s Clean Water Project. “The government needs to do a better job of screening for pollutants and pathogens and making the information available on a timely basis, that families going to the beach know when it’s safe to swim.”

Now this is what I call focusing on the family!

P.S. I just finished (or as I like to call it: Hot, FAT and Crowded). It’s a great read and builds stoke for innovation vs// stuff like, ya know, drilling. Loved his analogy, on Charlie Rose, of the chant “Drill, Baby, Drill” being the equivalent of “CARBON PAPER, BABY, CARBON PAPER!”

Date Posted: September 15, 2008 @ 10:01 am

Olympic Champion, Newest Member of Ocean Champions

Posted by: Chris Laughlin

I couldn’t be any more thrilled to share with all of you the news of my cousin, . It was exciting to watch him and the team on TV, and to see his mom and my mom in the crowd at Beijing holding the American flag and cheering them on!

, it is the first time the US team has returned to the medal podium since 1988 when Terry Schroeder (the team’s coach) was the captain of the team (see ). Going into the games they carried a ninth place rating combined with a history of not finishing better than sixth in any of the last three games.


Just like the US Olympic Water Polo Team, Ocean Champions is defying the odds for ocean health. We may be small in structure, but we are huge with supporters – people like you – boaters, surfers, nature lovers and fishermen – and now an Olympic medalist.

Tim grew up in Seal Beach, CA. He’s always had a love for surfing and the oceans, and has become one of the newest voices of the only political voice for the oceans, Ocean Champions.

Date Posted: September 10, 2008 @ 8:56 am

Posted by: Maureen Wilmot

There has been a lot of talk the last couple of weeks in politics about family values. Well, not to be left out of the discussion, I thought I would share with you the family values my parents passed down to me –always leave the place better than how you found it (from picnic sites at Balboa Park to the world) and give back to your community.

Hopefully, I am instilling these values in my two boys – though I have a long ways to go to get my 14 year old to remember to leave the bathroom in better shape than he found it – at this rate, I am happy if he just leaves the bathroom in useable shape.

As for giving back to the community, they were at a loss – they are not able to serve on any boards, too young to volunteer as guides at the marine lab, and can only give a small amount of money to worthy causes. But have no fear, we found a way that the boys can give back to the very thing they love – the oceans.

This weekend, we started taking water samples at our local beach. The local provided all the materials and training. We just have to head to the beach every Sunday afternoon (oh darn, gotta go to the beach), take the sample and then drop it off at the Surfrider office. They do the test and the results are posted in the daily paper.

Not only do the boys get to collect the samples, they get to see their results in the paper. I am told that the county and state parks only sample once a month when summer is over, while the Surfrider volunteers sample weekly all year.

This small action is just the beginning to building citizens who will be responsible for their community – whether that community is their local neighborhood or their global community of ocean lovers.

By all means, this is not the only thing we can do to give back to our ocean community. I am sure you all have many, many more stories to share.

Date Posted: September 8, 2008 @ 10:21 am

No Child Left Inside

Posted by: Mike Mishler

Summer is over and school begins again. Do parents still take pictures of their kids in their new school clothes staring directly into the early morning sun as mom tries to get their scrunched-up and sunburned faces in focus?

I hope not. I still have a giant blue dot floating in front of my eyes because of those pictures.

But please tell me your kids didn’t spend all summer indoors playing Guitar Hero.

“Yeah, I’d love to watch you play Free Bird again. There might be some brain cells not damaged from the first three thousand times I heard it in the 70′s”

Or, perhaps your kids spent the summer outdoors drifting, like shin padded butterflies, across a semi manicured field as you yelled out brilliant strategic plays and encouragement.

“Kick the Ball! No, the other way! That’s okay honey any score is good, even if the other team gets the point. Yay!”

If either of these scenarios sounds familiar your children may be suffering from nature-deficit disorder. Don’t worry though, according to Richard Louv, writer, nature lover, and Chairman of the Children & Nature Network the cure is simple:

“Drill for oil?”


“Take a pill?”

“No! Go out side and play.”
(Side effects may include scrapes, scratches, bug bites, getting dirty, and having fun.)

Turns out nature plays an important role in our development, by inspiring creativity, teaching us independence, and developing our curious natures.

“See Timmy that’s why we never poke Mr. Badger in the eye. Now we’ll practice first aid.”

Another group, whose motto is “Healthier Kids, Healthier World” believes a host of problems such as childhood obesity, and climate change can be helped by connecting kids and nature. That’s why they are promoting, along with most of our Ocean Champion candidates, a bill intended to improve environmental education in all our schools.

All this great, and kids and nature should go together like dirt and water. But you want to know the real problem?
It’s us. We have invented so many ways to avoid nature that it’s no surprise if our kids think of the outdoors as a lame video game. I mean come on, I was talking with some friends this weekend and they were exicted because they had just bought this:e swatter

This isn’t a tennis racket it’s an Electric Flyswatter. Why do we need this? Is Haliburton selling Teflon armor to flies now, or do we just want more power to defeat nature? What’s next shooting moose from helicopters? Yeah, right!

“Can we drill for oil now!”

“No. Go outside and play!”


“Don’t make me swat you!”

Date Posted: September 5, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

Posted by: David Wilmot

Like many of you I have been following the Republican National Convention with great interest. While I attended the Democratic National Convention last week in person, I am watching the RNC from home (a lot more comfortable but the parties leave something to be desired). A few of our Ocean Champions community have asked if Ocean Champions would be at the Republican National Convention?


The answer is: I wish I could. Attending a convention is a lot of work and back-to-back conventions may have killed me (and Patrick). This year we made a decision to attend only one convention. However, my goal is for Ocean Champions to have the capacity to attend both conventions in four years.

There were two important factors that influenced my decision to attend only the DNC. First, the Democrats control the House and Senate and will maintain their control after the November elections. In fact, Democrats are expected to solidify their majorities in both bodies. The majority sets the agenda for Congress and we need oceans on the agenda in the coming year. Given this reality and our close relationships with many senior Democrats, including some in leadership, we used every available opportunity in Denver to highlight oceans. It was the right decision and it worked.

Second, while we have good relationships with a number of Republicans in the House and a few in the Senate, ocean conservation in particular and environmental protection in general are not priorities for the Republican leadership. Because our oceans are not a partisan issue, Ocean Champions is working to change this. But changing the status quo is never easy and typically takes time, time to build relationships, familiarity, and trust.

If any of you are at the RNC, take the opportunity to remind our Republican elected officials and leaders that you care about our oceans and you vote (and contribute to political campaigns!).

Date Posted: September 4, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

Posted by: Mike Mishler

I was reading Chris’s post from August 14th, and I started thinking about what it means to consider yourself an environmentalist. I’ve never called myself this. My neighbor, who considers Rush Limbaugh too liberal, says I am a tree-hugging environmentalist and wing nut liberal because I drive a Prius.

For the record, I did not hug that tree; it was choking on a squirrel and I was trying to help. I do, however, drive a Prius, and it is green. Well, Sea Foam green.

Green car?

But here’s the thing: we bought the car not to prove we were environmentalists, but because it made sense. It’s very comfortable to drive and uses less gas.

Isn’t using less gas good?

It’s not using less gas that’s good; it’s getting less gas from foreign sources that’s good.

Yeah, but if we use less gas doesn’t that mean we need to import less gas?

This is the point where my neighbor would rage on about slippery slopes, scientists trying to destroy the economy, and something about Al Gore and the devil. Then he, my neighbor, not Al Gore, drives off in his big truck.

Tonka truck

Oh yeah, back to the Prius. There are two things about driving a hybrid. The first is that I feel like I have to be a better person somehow because the car gets so much attention. I feel like I can no longer speed, or swear, or use any hand gestures other than a peace sign. I’ve started letting people merge without making them feel that they are invading my space. And if some jerk really wants that parking space, then by all means, take it. I’ll just take my car home and walk there. Yeah, Right.

The other thing I noticed about myself driving a hybrid is that I obsess over gas mileage. At first it was cool to look down and see I had gone 400-plus miles on a tank of gas and averaged 48 mpg. But then I noticed that my wife gets 49 or 50, and sometimes 52 mpg. How can this be? Well, she does weigh less. But still, I’m a better driver. Right? Soon enough I’m coasting to stop signs, estimating the best way to save fuel on a long hill, drafting off pedestrians, and checking wind direction before I drive. (Head winds are a killer.) So I just recently averaged 50.6 mpg, but my wife, Cindy, tells me she’s getting 50.8. Rats!

So, are we environmentalists? Well, we drive a hybrid; we changed our light bulbs to fluorescents (they’re brighter); we recycle (it’s mandatory in our neighborhood); we don’t compost, but we do eat leftovers; and we try to remember to bring our to restaurants so we won’t kill off the wrong fishes. ) Finally, we contribute to worthy causes such as Ocean Champions because even if we aren’t true environmentalists, we can say we know some. And that counts for something, doesn’t it?

Date Posted: September 2, 2008 @ 11:18 am