OWOO Attends Blue Vision Summit
Barbara and Meghan MacGillivray recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Blue Vision Summit, organized by the Blue Frontier Campaign, which is dedicated to “building the solution-based constituency needed to protect the ocean, coasts and communities that depend on them.” This was the fourth biennial Blue Vision Summit, and it brought together many organizations and individuals dedicated to marine conservation to discuss the challenges we face and how to address them. Participants were also given the chance to visit the offices of House and Senate members to convey their support for healthy oceans during Healthy Ocean Hill Day.
Barbara and I were extremely excited to be able to participate in this year’s Blue Vision Summit, since we had an incredible experience attending two years ago. We had a full day of seminars, panels and discussion on various ocean issues. The stand-out to me was definitely the Youth Leadership for a Blue Planet panel. It illuminated the importance of youth engagement in conservation issues, and was comprised of 6 young men and women who are actively trying to make a difference in ocean health.
Meghan and Barbara MacGillivray at the Capitol. Photo courtesy of Meghan MacGillivray.
The last day of the conference was spent on Capitol Hill for Healthy Ocean Hill Day. Two years ago, we were unable to attend this portion of the Summit – so we were unsure what lay in store for us now.
We arrived at the Senate building and entered a large room where most of the conference members were assembling. Dividing themselves by state, it was easy to see that California had the largest delegation by far. Surprisingly, the next largest was Colorado, owing in large part to the incredible efforts led by Vicki Nichols Goldstein of Colorado Ocean Coalition. We were introduced to several “Ocean Heroes,” congressmen and women who are dedicated to protecting the ocean and have proven it through their actions on the hill. Representative Jared Huffman from San Francisco led off the speeches, and each congressperson spoke of their desire to protect and conserve the ocean, and why they were so involved.It was especially terrific listening to Representative Lois Capps, from the central coast of California, and Representative Kathy Caster from Tampa, Florida. Six representatives in all spoke to us, and each one made a lasting impression.
Representative Lois Capps speaks to the Blue Vision Summit. Photo by Meghan MacGillivray.
After listening to the speeches we followed our group leaders to other areas of the Senate building where we met with staffers of California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. There were three key issues we wanted to bring to their attention: the National Ocean Policy, which is currently in an implementation plan in the White House, and two bills that are in the circuit awaiting voting. The two bills were the SAFE Seafood Act and the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act. The former was introduced by Representative Ed Markey, and intends to combat seafood fraud by demanding that all fish be labeled correctly. The latter, better known as the IUU Fishing Act, would provide the US with tools to monitor and track pirate fishing vessels and enact penalties against those that are fishing illegally.
After meeting with the Senate staffers, a small group of us from Orange County had the opportunity to meet with our representative, Dana Rohrabacher, based in Huntington Beach. We met with him in his office. Congressman Rohrbacher has served in the house for 13 terms, and seemed receptive to hearing about the issues, especially the SAFE Seafood Act. He responded that he loved the idea of creating more labeling for seafood, because he wants to give the consumer more choices when it comes to eating. We were able to talk with him for over 45 minutes, and he mentioned his love for surfing and the ocean, and the fact that he is a fan of our film, Five Summer Stories.
The Delegates from California. Photo by Barbara MacGillivray.
Meeting with the congressman and attending Healthy Ocean Hill Day were illuminating and educational and made me feel as though real work for the ocean is being accomplished. I am very glad I attended this year and will look forward to it again in another two years!