On Earth Day 2017, people around the world came together for the inaugural March for Science. As one of the march's first 100 partners, the Aquarium went all-in, standing up for the power of science to protect the health of our global ocean.
Science is in the Aquarium's DNA. We depend on research to help us understand marine wildlife, inform conservation policy and inspire new generations of ocean leaders. We believe science helps people make decisions that make our world better.
Through public programs, social media and a newspaper op-ed, we celebrated California's leadership in advancing science-based conservation policy. Aquarium staff marched in North America and Europe, in cities including San Francisco, Washington DC, Amsterdam and Brussels. Our experts spoke at marches in Monterey and Silicon Valley, where we encouraged the public to take part in citizen science. Even our resident African penguins joined in with a "March of the Penguins for Science," waddling through our Kelp Forest gallery while staff (and a Facebook Live audience that eventually reached 4.3 million) cheered them on.
Of course, this movement isn't just about scientists. It's about the critical role science-based decision-making plays in our increasingly complex and interconnected society. And that affects everyone who cares about keeping Earth livable—for ourselves, and for future generations.
Celebrating California's Leadership at Ocean Day
Each year, hundreds of ocean advocates descend on Sacramento, asking legislators to conserve the health of our state's blue treasures. On Ocean Day California 2017, the Aquarium hosted its eighth annual awards reception—featuring California catch from the Seafood Watch Best Choices list—for almost 250 state officials, their staff and ocean leaders.
Executive Director Julie Packard presented our 2017 California Ocean Champion Award to the Honorable Fran Pavley. During her tenure in the state Legislature from 2000–2016, Pavley pushed through landmark California policies on climate, energy and the environment. Thanks to the vision and persistence of leaders like Pavley, California is inspiring innovative climate solutions around the world.
Speaking up for our Blue Parks
America's marine protected areas are living proof that the sustainable use of our ocean goes hand in hand with robust coastal economies, valuable fisheries and thriving marine habitats. But in April 2017, the White House issued an executive order that threatened to open up millions of acres of protected U.S. waters for offshore oil and gas drilling. The order targeted parts of four national marine sanctuaries in California—Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones and Channel Islands—along with seven other national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments.
The Aquarium responded swiftly, calling the move a huge step backward for ocean protection. During the federal review process, our outreach efforts generated letters from 22 Monterey Peninsula businesses and associations; more than 20 of our California restaurant, chef and culinary business partners; and over 50 U.S. aquariums and zoos. We asked Aquarium supporters to speak up in defense of U.S. marine sanctuaries and monuments, and nearly 10,000 people visited the public comment portal through our link.
We'll continue to defend our blue parks, and to be part of the movement away from fossil fuels and toward a prosperous, clean-energy future.