It happened this past week in New York while spending some time with my peers in the sustainability business. Of the various subjects we discussed, the fate of the world’s oceans was high on the list (after having also figured prominently at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference, which featured giant wave surfer and author Laird Hamilton and a panel on fisheries). Hearing one participant, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, talk about how 70 percent of our oxygen comes from the oceans and how we have taken 90 percent of all the fish out of the ocean, I suddenly began to experience a tingle — that nexus where excitement and apprehension come together the moment you know you’re on the verge of an “aha” moment, or making a commitment for which you really don’t have time.
As much as I would have liked to resist the feeling, I knew that I needed to begin redirecting my energy and rededicating my efforts to the renewal of my mission to create a wave of support for saving the world’s oceans. My “aha” moment, in this case, was the realization that we need to rejuvenate Ocean Aid, which kind of got put on hold when we were unable to organize enough support for a concert to coincide with the observance of World Oceans Day on June 8.
The fact is that after spending two years and a ton of money in an attempt to replicate the success of Farm Aid on a marine level, that failure was admittedly a disappointment. But listening to these galvanizing speakers, I was reminded that this is much too crucial a cause to be curbed by a single frustration (and that it was “Code Blue,” my first foray into this cause, primarily designed to reduce the stream of plastic waste polluting the oceans, that eventually became Greenopolis, a program now being expanded by Waste Management). So what I’m now inclined to say is: let’s forget the concert – at least for the moment — and start making a more concerted effort to reinvigorate what has been referred to as the “Blue Movement.” As I see it, this needs to be an educational process focusing on two main goals:
1.) We must stop depositing trash and litter not only in ALL waterways per se, but in all channels that flow into them — including streets with storm drains (yes even in places like Des Moines Iowa);
2.) We must stop depleting stocks of fish in the ocean – and that includes the krill on which they feed.
In fact, if we start thinking about it as “no garbage in and only plentiful fish out,” taking key steps to save the aquatic environment becomes a lot simpler to contemplate. We also need to celebrate those companies that are working to educate consumers on the importance of ocean pollution prevention, as well as organizations such as Whole Foods that are utilizing Monterey Bay Aquarium’s red, yellow and green rating system for categorizing the sustainability of wild-caught seafood.
With a little rededication, Ocean Aid can still “make waves” by finding ways for people to be rewarded for performing marine friendly acts. So if anyone has any thoughts for activities that we can organize – for example, sponsoring marine protected areas or promoting “No-fish Mondays” – I’d like to hear about them. In the meantime, you’ll be hearing more from me on this subject in the coming weeks.