D.C. Summit To Promote Ocean Solutions

C. Coimbra photo

C. Coimbra photo


David Helvarg.

On Wednesday April 1st a Pemex oil-rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico killing 4 workers with 3 missing and presumed dead, another 47 injured. Luckily no massive spill took place like with BP after its Deepwater Horizon blowout killed 11 workers and dumped 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico five years ago this month.

On Thursday April 2nd a giant 330-foot Russian Factory Trawler, the Dalny Vostok sank in the Pacific killing 56 crew members from Russia, Burma and elsewhere with another 13 missing and presumed dead. It keeled over while trying to pull in an 80-ton fishing net.

Then on Friday April 3rd over 300 mostly Burmese slaves, forced to work on Thai fishing boats without pay and often beaten and imprisoned onboard and on an isolated Indonesian island were freed by Indonesian authorities following an Associated Press expose. The A.P. reported on how the illegal pirate fishing boats used slave labor to feed their product into the global seafood market including U.S. outlets.

Those working as advocates for ocean conservation have to face daily consequences like these if they fail, which is why they can’t afford to fail. Blue Vision Summits bring ocean conservation leaders together every two years in Washington D.C. to network, build the blue movement and meet with the Administration and Congress to restore the blue in our red, white and blue. The 5th Blue Vision Summit (BVS5) May 11-14 also aims to build the strategies and coalitions that can minimize ocean disasters: BP type oil spills, unsafe and illegal pirate fishing, climate disruption, plastic pollution and widespread loss of life both human and wild.

The Summit will promote and celebrate bottom-up solutions such as community based fishing family initiatives that have helped establish fully protected local waters in places like Port Orford Oregon, Culebra Puerto Rico and Barbuda in the Caribbean, all of which will be represented at the Summit. It will highlight the links between the environment, economy and equity from Far Rockaway in New York City as local city councilman Donovan Richards will tell us to the icy waters of the Arctic as the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft will report.

The Summit will address the risks to businesses of our failure to deal with issues such as Overfishing, pollution and Ocean Acidification that has already impacted companies including Legal Sea Foods and Taylor Shellfish of Washington whose corporate leaders will report on their responses. At the same time it will highlight the benefits of cleaning up pollution that impact communities along our coasts. This is what the ports of LA and Long Beach chose to do eight years ago as a Long Beach port official will explain. As a result of their action plan they’ve reduced port pollution over 75percent. Their neighboring communities of San Pedro, Wilmington and Long Beach California are now cleaner and healthier with reduced rates of cancer and childhood asthma. As a result clean air lawsuits have gone away and the ports are able to expand after a decade of delay, helping speed a billion dollars of goods across their docks every day.

Elected Ocean Champions like Rep. Sam Farr of California and Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii will also meet with delegations from their states on ‘Healthy Ocean Hill Day’ May 13 when conference attendees from more than 20 states take their message of ocean health to Capitol Hill. The Summit and Hill Day will also bring together high school and college student and youth leaders from many shores including New York, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina and Australia.

These are just a few of the solution-oriented folks who will get to network, meet and strategize with ocean leaders and winners of the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards that take place May 14 following a seminar at National Geographic.

Among other keynote BVS5 speakers and Benchley Award winners are the Administrator of NOAA Dr. Kathy Sullivan, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle, Secretary of State John F. Kerry (winner of the Benchley Policy Award), Prince Albert II of Monaco (winner of the National Stewardship Award) and Fabien Cousteau, an ocean explorer and conservationist like his father and grandfather before him.

Questions to be resolved or at least advanced at BVS5 include; how marine conservationists become leaders in planning for the inevitable impacts of climate disruption along our shores and in our public seas, how we stop federal plans for offshore oil drilling on the Atlantic and in the Arctic and how we make ocean health and the blue economy a visible issue for presidential candidates and the public in 2016.

We know what the solutions are to the cascading disasters facing our living seas. The challenge is how we create the political will to enact them.

For information on the Blue Vision Summit and how to attend go to: http://www.bluefront.org/blue_vision_blog/welcome/

Categories: Coast Guard, John Kerry, Offshore Drilling

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