5th Annual Ocean Day, Huge Success
SACRAMENTO- Ocean Day is a day of ocean education in the Capitol. This year, 73 advocates from 45 different ocean organizations and 10 ocean companies came to the Capitol for the day-long event. In one day, 100 legislative meetings were held to discuss pressing ocean issues, from offshore drilling and plastic pollution to protecting fish and marine life.
Ocean Day was kicked off by Assemblymember Julia Brownley, an ocean champion who has authored a bill that would ban plastic grocery bags statewide. If passed, the bill would greatly reduce the flow of plastic pollution in our ocean, protecting sea turtles and marine birds.
Outside on the Capitol lawn, there was a 30-foot inflatable turtle surrounded by booths for companies that represented the state's vibrant ocean economy, an economy that depends on a clean ocean. There was even a "Bag Monster" lumbering around the lawn, courtesy of Chico Bags, a resuable bag company.
The "Bag Monster," made of 500 plastic grocery bags, represents the number of throwaway plastic bags the average American uses in one year. Plastic bags are one of the most common forms of plastic pollution found in the ocean. Plastic pollution in the ocean kills of an estimated 1 million marine birds and sea turtles, every year.
Ocean Day closed with a sustainable seafood dinner put on by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Governor Jerry Brown was the keynote speaker. Governor Brown was also this year's Ocean Award recipient for his leadership in ocean sustainability, and for signing a bill into law last year that banned shark finning in California. He thanked the ocean community for the hard work being done to protect the ocean, and told the advocates in the room to eat up because there is a lot still to be done. He closed his speech by saying, "help is on the way."
Julia Ritchie, Ocean Associate with Environment California, and lead organizer of the day said, "This year's 5th annual Ocean Day was the biggest Ocean Day yet. The goal was to talk to 100 legislators about what they can do to protect the ocean, like banning plastic bags and styrofoam, for example. We hit that goal. Now, we just have to make sure they know these solutions are something the people of California want and need. Californians need to weigh in."
Along with Environment California, Ocean Day would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the following partners (alphabetically): 7th Generation Advisors, CalCoast, Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS), Conservation Strategy Group, Farrallones Marine Sanctuary Association, Heal the Bay, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), San Diego Coastkeeper and Surfrider.