ALL ISSUES     |     SPRING 2018
A shorebird on Asilomar beach

Julie Packard
Director's Note

Julie Packard, Executive Director

As we start a new year, I'm so proud that the Aquarium's influence as a conservation leader is reaching across generations and around the globe.

In October, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums recognized the importance of our leadership when it presented us with its second-ever Conservation Award for our commitment to ocean protection and public awareness about ocean issues. Earlier that month, I traveled to Malta with our Conservation & Science team, where we announced a new partnership with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Together, we'll build on our existing connections to advance sustainable seafood production across Southeast Asia.

This is one of many collaborations that are taking our international work—and our influence—to new levels of impact. Our Pacific bluefin tuna research, conducted with colleagues here and in Japan, contributed to a breakthrough agreement in South Korea to use science-based management to recover this imperiled species. We helped mobilize chefs on five continents in support of Pacific bluefin tuna recovery, and we served as an official advisor to the United States delegation at the tuna negotiations.

Our global seafood and aquaculture team met with colleagues in Central America to advance sustainability practices there, and Chief Conservation Officer Margaret Spring spoke in Tokyo at a forum where government and business leaders explored ways to partner and promote healthy ocean ecosystems.

On the science front, our researchers will be back in the field this year with colleagues in Japan, Mexico and beyond, tagging Pacific bluefin tuna on all of their major feeding grounds. We hope to build on our record year of success in Japan, where we tagged more than 2,000 fish in 2017.

In California, our white shark research team deployed camera tags on several adult white sharks off the Farallon Islands for the first time, and plan to retrieve the tags offshore in the Pacific Ocean this spring. MBARI engineers developed these new tags with us, and we're eager to see if the cameras record new white shark behaviors.

This fall, California will host a Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and we want the ocean to have a prominent place on the agenda. We're expanding our work to address another grave threat to ocean health—the flow of plastic debris into the sea. Building on the success of last year's Aquarium Conservation Partnership campaign, we're taking our efforts to a global level through a 33-nation, 100-aquarium coalition that's tackling marine litter in all its forms.

Plastic debris is an issue that's caught the public's imagination—including the imagination of one of our Teen Conservation Leaders. I'm thrilled that 16-year-old Shelby O'Neil won the support of the California Coastal Commission to declare #NoStrawNovember statewide. We created our teen programs to empower young people to become ocean conservation leaders. Building our capacity to support more of these inspiring young people is a prime motivation behind our new Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership.

We're making great progress on the Center—and on our expanded Animal Care Center that will greatly elevate the exceptional care we provide both our exhibit animals and the vulnerable animals we rescue and release back to the wild.

I'm deeply grateful to our many members and donors who have come forward to support these ambitious projects, and for all that you do to advance our work to protect the health of our ocean planet—on which all our lives depend.