NMEA @ Capitol Hill Ocean Week - Meghan Marrero
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to represent NMEA at Capitol Hill Ocean Week. Hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Capitol Hill Ocean Week, or “CHOW”, is an opportunity for ocean champions from diverse sectors to convene and discuss ocean happenings, policies, problems, and solutions. This year’s event took place June 4-6 in Washington, DC, with the final day allowing time for constituents to meet with their Senators and Congressional representatives in order to share their ideas and experiences on the importance of supporting policies for ocean conservation.
The first two days of the event featured panels and speakers including Congressional representatives and Senators, fishers and scientists, policy makers and educators, businesspeople and nonprofit founders alike. Bringing together myriad perspectives allowed for important and in-depth conversations on critical topics, such as climate change, the global seafood market, and harnessing energy from the sea. One of the most promising panels was the Margaret Davidson Panel with Emerging Leaders in Ocean Conservation, which featured four young leaders from disparate areas of the country discussing their work as ocean stewards. These ocean champions stressed the importance of listening to young ocean advocates, and engaging with them on social media as we all work toward common goals.
Another talk focused on a study and toolkit, Heartwired for the Ocean, which demonstrated to participants effective ways to share messages of ocean conservation to inspire action. The speakers reminded us that as humans, our actions are driven by emotions, and that we must leverage others’ emotions so that they will be inspired to change their behavior. The researchers outlined specific “mindsets” that we should trigger in our messaging to drive the action we seek.
A major takeaway from this event was the importance of collaboration and cooperation from diverse sectors to ensure our ocean’s future. For instance, during one panel on seafood, fishers, scientists, chefs, and business people alike stressed that we must all be judicious in our choices to ensure that our global seafood stocks can be sustained. The panelists noted that we must take positive action for our future ocean. This and other panels echoed our own NMEA core values of excellence, camaraderie, action, inclusiveness, and leadership, which we strive for in the marine education community. It reminded me that we must work closely with those beyond our own community for sustained ocean health.