Coordinated by NFCC’s John Quigley, Ocean Day is an annual celebration and call to action for protection of the world’s oceans. In May and June, school children from San Francisco, San Diego, Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, and Humboldt County create aerial art projects during the Kids Ocean Day Adopt-A-Beach cleanups. John is a pioneer in aerial art, in which people stand in position, and from above form an image and/or message: literally formed from their bodies. It’s a compelling expression of passion and dedication. John develops messages and themes for each art display, conducts in-person training sessions for local organizations, and personally sets the sand and lays out the aerial art frame in Los Angeles.
SOS Acid Ocean Event
In 2009, support from the Oak Foundation enabled Global Ocean Health to produce the “SOS Acid Ocean” event in Homer Alaska (pictured above), a collaborative undertaking by a team of fishermen, skilled conservation advocates, and communications professionals. Hundreds of mariners including commercial fishing captains, work boat and yacht owners, and kayakers participated to spell out a message to the world: SOS ACID OCEAN. The GOH team organized an unprecedented initiative to confront this crisis, engaging the production team led by environmental artist John Quigley, local organizers from the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and diverse and respected fisheries leaders in Washington and Alaska to speak on camera. This event generated worldwide media coverage, reaching many people who had yet to hear the words “ocean acidification.”
NFCC Helps Create and Support Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on OA
In late November 2011, Brad Warren took his idea of forming a blue ribbon panel to recommend actions to counter OA in Washington to Terry Williams of the Tulalip Tribes and Bill Dewey of Taylor Seafoods. They, in turn, proposed the initiative to Governor Christine Gregoire, and she announced her plan to appoint the panel on Dec. 9. After being named to the panel, Brad became one of its most active members, co-chairing the mitigation and adaptation workgroup; raising funds to support staffing, research, and publications; and helping to address issues and build consensus.
Even before the panel made its recommendations, NFCC began organizing outreach events promoting the panel’s work, wrote and placed op-eds for panel members and helped journalists write articles and cover OA-related events.
NFCC Brings Fishermen to Testify Before Senate
Fishermen can be magnetic champions for the ocean. Just ask the senators who listened to Donny Waters at a US Senate hearing in April 2010. Invited by Senate staffers to put a fisherman on the witness panel, we picked Waters, a charismatic reef-fish harvester from Florida. U.S. Senators called him the “star of the show” (no small feat, considering that he testified next to Sigourney Weaver). A self-made man who wears cowboy hats and raises cattle in his spare time, Waters called ocean acidification “a devastating ghost lurking in the shadows.” He pressed lawmakers to support the science necessary to detect its hidden impacts and to begin reining in the CO2 emissions that drive this problem.
Again at the invitation of Senate staffers, we made sure dozens of fisheries leaders from nearly every coastal state got a chance to voice their views about the need to invest in research and monitoring to define the consequences of a souring ocean. They entered a letter into the record arguing that “seafood producers and consumers cannot afford to ‘whistle in the dark’ about these changes… Even for fisheries where no direct harm from acidification has yet been documented, the disturbing signs of trouble on the ‘front lines’ reveal a compelling case to prevent the impacts from spreading and growing more severe.”
Global Ocean Health
Global Ocean Health (GOH) is the flagship program of the National Fisheries Conservation Center. We are focused on adapting to, mitigating, and combating the effects of a high-carbon ocean, including ocean acidification, warming, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), HABs, and sea level rise. GOH works with fishermen, tribes, and coastal communities to provide the tools and knowledge they need to protect their livelihoods, seafood supplies that feed billions, and the ocean itself. Bringing together the seafood industry, scientists, and policymakers puts us in the unique position of building collaborative front-line approaches to tackle our changing waters and one of the largest waste streams in human history.
Tackling the problem at the root by addressing carbon reduction direction is an integral piece of ensuring healthy oceans and fisheries. For the last four years we have carefully studied carbon policy: from cap-and-invest models to revenue neutral taxes. We gathered data from eighteen policies around the world that had been in place for at least five years, and measured how well they did in terms of driving down emissions, and at what cost. From this research we’ve identified certain key elements of effective and fair policy, which we’ve employed in helping to design proposed carbon pricing schemes at the state level. We’ve been working with fisheries leaders, legislators and coastal communities who face the same challenge that contributed substantially to the defeat of a large carbon fee initiative in Washington State: the need to enfranchise rural, resource dependent people in carbon policies, so that they know they can benefit instead of merely fearing they will be hurt. We have a paper undergoing final revisions on this and related lessons from recent experiences in state and provincial carbon policy.
The Working Group on Seafood and Energy
In June 2015, at the request of fisheries associations and leaders, we helped form The Working Group on Seafood and Energy, an independent 501(c)(4). The Working Group on Seafood and Energy is an association of seafood producers, fishery-dependent businesses, coastal communities, and tribes. Members seek to protect marine resources while maintaining affordable and stable energy supplies. The Working Group allows fisheries leaders to make a difference without spending a lot of time in meetings and research. The NFCC team does the homework. We distill the issues and help members protect their future harvests by speaking up where and when it counts.
The Working Group was founded by Northwest seafood industry leaders and is managed and advised by Brad Warren and Julia Sanders of NFCC. The Working Group favors carbon and energy policies that have proved effective both environmentally and economically. We judge policies based on how they have performed in dozens of nations and states around the world. In 2016 the Working Group helped to defeat Washington’s Initiative 732, a proposed revenue neutral carbon tax, after determining that it would be weak, costly, and an obstacle to better policies. Now stronger carbon emissions policies are proposed in Washington and Oregon. The Working Group provides reliable guidance to help members identify the best options and advocate effectively for the future of healthy and prosperous fisheries. Working with members, we help produce and place powerful op-eds from waterfront and tribal champions, as well as provide public testimony, comment letters, or letters of support for proposed legislation, regulation, or projects.
In support of the 2018 Washington State Carbon Fee Initiative (I-1631), we reached over 300,000 people within our target group of rural or resource-dependent voters, through a combination of op-eds, articles, and in-person presentations and workshops.
The Ocean Acidification Report
The Ocean Acidification Report is a quarterly newsletter providing the latest news and research on ocean acidification, other climate change induced ocean threats, and related stories. Each issue includes a profile of someone actively involved in the fight, as well as National US and International news, resources, and information about upcoming webinars and leading research papers. Subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and find archived issues here: http://globaloceanhealth.org/resources/publications/. The OA Report reaches over 7,000 people in over 100 countries, and as far as we know is the most widely read publication in its field. Analysis shows that readers archive and refer back to the OA Report – sometimes as much as a year after the date of publication. Working on the OA Report allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of the latest research in the field, as well as efforts at adaptation, mitigation, and resilience. We’re able to develop relationships with top scientists in the field, attend top conferences as press, and keep our readers informed of the cutting edge of research on not just climate change effects on the ocean, but carbon policy, emission reduction efforts, and carbon removal approaches.
Changing Waters Podcast
The Changing Waters podcast, a new show NFCC produces in partnership with the American Shorelines Podcast Network, is about the ocean, the people who depend on it, and the people who are working to keep it healthy. Recent episodes include interviews with Former President of Ireland and climate justice advocate Mary Robinson, fisheries legend Ray Hilborn, and NOAA Researcher Laurie Weitkamp. Changing Waters is co-hosted by Executive Director Brad Warren and Board Member Thane Tienson.
Ocean Acidification Best Management Practices
Working through the Western Regional Aquaculture Center, in partnership with Oregon State University and staff from Taylor Shellfish and Whiskey Creek Oyster Hatcheries, NFCC is developing Best Management Practices for hatcheries and shellfish growers dealing with ocean or coastal acidification. With an advisory panel formed of some of the top minds in the field, and with meticulous research and on-the-ground experience coming together to provide comprehensive and valuable guidance, the BMPs will be the first of their kind specific to the challenges of ocean acidification. Once completed, the Best Management Practices will be made available through printed hard copies, online pdf booklets, presentations to shellfish associations, and other outreach efforts.
Sea Level Rise
In 2015, NFCC conducted sea level rise modeling of Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties on the Washington State coast, using extremely high resolution GIS data. The resolution allowed us to accurately map within a few inches. We modeled how these vulnerable coastal communities would be affected by rising seas in different years and under different emissions scenarios, as well as in different tidal scenarios. The work included educational outreach and workshops for affected coastal communities and fishery stakeholders, with multiple events jointly convened with other organizations in the region. NFCC collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and local shoreline planning committees to include the sea level rise maps in regional Shoreline Master Programs, and to distribute the maps to county commissioners and regional county planning offices for use in better understanding vulnerable properties and areas.
NFCC conducted similar work in 2017: modeling sea level rise in Snohomish County for the Tulalip Tribes, to help guide tribal decision-making on use of real estate and to assist in identifying the most vulnerable beaches and properties. This time, we carried out additional modeling to see how marshes (the nurseries of marine life) would be affected by sea level rise. In addition to presenting our results to the Tulalip Board of Directors, we held an open workshop where we shared our findings, answered questions, and received feedback from tribal planners and other concerned parties.
The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries
This 2013 in-depth and comprehensive look at our nation’s most important fisheries management law was the result of the combined work of several of our board members, at the request of some of the most prestigious national conservation funders. As the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act was coming up for reauthorization, this body of work, with many interviews with fishermen as well as thorough research and analysis was a key piece in outlining the incredible difference the Act had on fisheries management. We are proud of the result of this undertaking.
NFCC was privileged to have one of the giants of 20th century fishery management as teacher, mentor, leader, and guiding sage. Lee Alverson joined our board at the beginning, and remained until his passing in 2013. NFCC Executive Director Brad Warren said: “Most of my work with Lee occurred during the last 20 years of his life, when the fishing industry had largely finished the race to the sea that extended jurisdiction had unleashed. Having learned how to harvest the available resource, the world needed to learn how to keep from wearing it out. In his last two decades, Lee poured his prodigious professional energies into strengthening fishery management worldwide: curtailing overfishing, reducing bycatch and regulatory discards, and even assessing the habitat consequences of modern mobile-gear fisheries.”
While much of our work over the years has had some connection, if not a direct link, to fisheries management, these are a few highlights.
Marine Protected Areas
The National Fisheries Conservation Center has worked with the National Marine Protected Areas Center, NOAA Fisheries, the State of California, several conservation groups, and industry representatives on several projects that examined the interface between the creation of protected areas and fisheries management. By applying tools that were little used in fisheries at the time, such as scientific consensus conference, decision analysis, and joint fact-finding, as well as cross-jurisdictional case study methods, NFCC provided its audiences and partners information and methods that improved their ability to navigate the complexities of MPA designation and its integration with fishery management.
NFCC played a key role for a number of years in the debate about the potential usefulness of marine reserves as a fishery management tool. In addition to facilitating a number of meetings and workshops throughout the West Coast, and convening a session at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting in 2005, we completed an assessment of the success of MPA designation processes throughout the country that was published by NOAA’s National MPA Center. These ranged from locally designed and managed MPAs to larger networks of reserves that involved multiple local, state, and federal participants. NFCC then addressed the science underlying the use of reserves in fishery management by sponsoring a consensus conference, modeled on the National Institutes of Health format, that brought together many of the leading scientists in this field and resulted in a concise consensus statement.
One of the best ways to build bridges between managers and user groups, between scientists and advocates, between fishing communities and interest groups is through collaborative efforts to collect information. The NFCC has been thinking and writing about cooperative studies since the mid-1990s. Some of our board members have been innovators in cooperative work on the ocean, in working fishing boats. Our board and staff have written extensively about the subject, presented seminars on cooperative data collection, participated in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, and more recently, co-authored a publication for the State of California.
In 2000, NFCC used seven case studies of cooperative data gathering and research efforts, from the Bering Sea to the North Atlantic, to identify key insights useful for improving the design and implementation of such efforts in the future. The case studies included examples of government/industry partnership in gear development, biological surveys, observer programs, and ecological studies. Two board members, Mark Lundsten and Suzanne Iudicello participated in a National Research Council effort to produce a National Academy report, Cooperative Research in the National Marine Fisheries Service, which addresses issues essential for the effective design and implementation of cooperative and collaborative research programs. More recently, in 2017 Iudicello and another board member, Mark Gleason, worked with The Nature Conservancy to write a chapter on collaborative research for California’s update to its Marine Life Management Act.