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February 22, 2018

WILDCOAST Joins California Ocean Defenders in Sacramento

Fay Crevoshay

On Tuesday February 20, WILDCOAST and over 170 ocean and coastal enthusiasts, non-profit leaders, fishermen, scientists and even middle school students, descended on Sacramento for the 14th Annual Ocean Day. We met with our state representatives on a number of issues that threaten ocean health such as plastics, roll-backs in federal protections against oil and gas, and illegal poaching in California's marine protected areas.

 Fortunately, there are solutions to these challenges in 2018 that we shared with our state leaders that includes important new state legislative opportunities to reduce plastics on beaches and in the ocean. We presented a proposal for "connect the cap" - requiring single use plastic bottles have bottle caps connected (5-10 billion plastic bottle caps every year are not returned for recycling in California!) and "straws on request" - requiring restaurants to give consumers a choice on whether or not they want a straw (500 million plastic straws daily are used in the U.S.!). There are also proposals that would require that only sustainable take out and food packaging are sold at state parks and beaches and that smoking is banned in our state park open spaces. 

To curb illegal poaching in California's marine protected areas the teams asked our legislatures to up the fine for commercial level poaching violations and to allocate more resources to MPA enforcement. Although the majority of commercial fishermen stick to the rules, there are some operations that routinely poach our underwater parks. It’s time to put a stop to this and send a powerful message that California's MPAs are enforced and the penalties for violating the rules are severe. 

The diverse state legislatures with whom we met were excited about these opportunities and enthusiastic about California's leadership in coastal protection, regardless of if they came from the deserts, mountains, valleys or beaches. The enthusiasm was evident when a group of middle school students from Oxnard boarded the bus at the end of the long day for the seven hour bus ride home. One student commented, "It was awesome to be a part of the conversation to bring solutions to our oceans. This is something I am passionate about and the future of our planet depends on kids like me to bring a voice to these issues and to actually care that we do something more to make a difference.”

It was clear on Ocean Day 2018 that the state's coast and ocean are for all Californians and it is the job of all Californians to protect them.