Ocean Advocacy is the compliment of protecting the seas as it communicates Ocean science and policy to the public by making people aware of a particular problem happening in the sea. It is the conserstone of environmental protection; however, I do have some problems with it.
Protecting the Oceans Is Frustrating
As a Scientist, I am trained to be unbiased and I let the results of scientific experiments dictate how to protect, and eventually save the Oceans. Over time though, I found that it is very difficult to remain completely unbiased. I have seen things during my career that boggles my mind. One of those things, for instance, is the dumping of large amounts of sewage into harbours of major cities. You would think with the technology and knowledge we have today we would make it mandatory to install sewage treatment plants in every major harbour around the world to ensure the safe water quality of the harbours. But alas, that is not the common thought and much to my dismay, science does not always dictate the fate of the world regardless of the unbiased truth the results prove. So how do we get people to change their minds?
The Deal With Ocean Advocacy
Advocacy seems to be the most affective. It comes in many forms; however, historically, advocacy came in the form of extreme protests and events. People used to throw red paint on fur coats to stop people from wearing fur. Others would block roads and entrances to nuke plants and oil refineries. I always wondered about the purpose of such practices. Did they work? They certainly got the attention of the people and television stations. In fact, environmentalists (as they were called) were eventually stereotyped into demonstrators that would do anything for their cause. This sterotype sticks today. I have been called an environmentalist as a joke by friends and strangers as jokes when I tell them I am an Ocean Scientist, which bothers me because I am supposed to be unbiased.
The Role of Ocean Advocacy
I am here to tell you that Advocacy has changed over the years and it plays a vital role in changing and creating policy leading to better protection of the Oceans. There are people who work for lobbyist groups and non-profit organizations whose sole purpose is to speak to politicians to ensure protecting the Oceans are at the top of their priority lists. There are other organizations who focus on making people aware of their cause through press conferences, social media, and traditional media, and there are individuals who volunteer and travel to protect their cause because they belive in it so much. All are effective in getting the attention of large numbers people to root for their cause: the Ocean!
Hit’em Hard, Hit’em Fast!
Then there are other groups who maintain the mantra of the 70s environmentalists and go to extreme measures to stop others from ruining our Oceans. When I began my career as a scientist, I didn’t like these groups at all as I thought they gave scientists a bad name and used violence to achieve there results. I didn’t think violence and extreme measures were very effective…until recently when a Japanese Whaling Fleet were called home early due to safety issues and a decreased amount of catch. The Sea Shepard Conservation Society worked for years to achieve their victory and it seems as though they left their mark as the Japenese governments are thinking of not giong out to Whale this year. As a scientist and a person, I do not condon any type of violence to achieve your cause; however, as a person who loves the Ocean I cannot say that I am not happy to hear the Whaling may stop, even if it’s only this year and I have the Sea Shepard Society to thank for it.
So my question to use is: Where do we draw the line to protect the Ocean?
This week, Speak Up for Blue will be exploring the nature of Advocacy in Marine Conservation. So keep coming back to see and read what we are going to be talking about.
Tell us your thoughts on the matter!