Ocean Champions

Ocean Champions is the only organization in the United States with the mission to confront anti-environment bias and to advocate for the legislators who respect the ocean and promote policy that protects and sustains marine resources for the future. Ocean Champions is also the only organization of its kind focused solely on oceans and ocean wildlife. 

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We live in charged political times. In the United States, as we approach a presidential and congressional election, we are bombarded with messages on almost every social, financial, judicial, geo-political, and environmental issue. The lines are starkly drawn, the arguments intense and not always honest, and the tactics heavily based on ever-increasing amounts of special interest funding through political action committees (PACs), business and professional associations, and corporations and lobbyists with a very narrow agenda, important to them, but not always as important to the general public or the best interests of the nation.  It is a frustrating situation and one naturally wants nothing to do with it. To ignore it, however, is to enable its effect. And with ocean politics, there is no choice but to organize and confront anti-environment bias with communications, endorsements, and advocacy for the legislators who do respect the ocean and are proponents of policy that protects and sustains marine resources for the future.

The only organization in the US with this mission is Ocean Champions, a 501(c)(4) organization, with a connected political action committee Ocean Champions PAC, the first national organization of its kind focused solely on oceans and ocean wildlife. The goal is to develop a broad, bipartisan base of supporters from which to cultivate political champions for ocean conservation in the U.S. Congress and in key states. Ultimately, the aim is to create a political environment where protecting and restoring the oceans is a priority of federal and state governments.

The ocean are different politically, and thus so must be Ocean Champions which, on its website, argues as follows:

  • Our oceans are in crisis and it’s time for our politicians to pay attention to their plight. While our public lands and their wildlife enjoy many dedicated champions in Congress, the oceans and their wildlife do not.
  • Ocean Champions is the first and only organization of its kind focused on building champions for the oceans at the Congressional level. Our goal is to create a political environment where protecting and restoring the oceans is a priority of federal and state governments.
  • In 2004, Ocean Champions PAC became the first ocean conservation organization to actively campaign for candidates for federal office and 11 (79%) of the 14 candidates we supported were victorious on Election Day.
  • In 2006, 16 (80%) of the 20 candidates we supported were elected and in 2008, 28 (82%) of the 34 candidates we supported were elected. In 2010, 23 of the 30 candidates we supported were elected.
  • Ocean Champions legislative victories and momentum include:
    o    Fisheries reform - Ocean Champions played an important role in the Magnuson-Stevens re-authorization and helped defeat a farm bill amendment that would have led to harmful new fishing subsidies
    o    Clean Water/Habitat - Ocean Champions is working with Senate and House Champions to pass the Toxic Tides bill (HABs) to improve coastal water quality. Key Champions shot down offshore drilling and helped pass CLEAR Act in the House.
    o    Ocean Governance - Ocean Champions played a key role in obtaining the President's Executive Order for a National Ocean Policy.
    o    Funding - Invited by senior Members to propose ocean projects and securing Administration's $54 million request for catch share fisheries management programs.
  • Ocean Champions is creating a circle of accountability that will lead to increasing political clout for the ocean conservation community and its legislative initiatives.
  • Because we know that the health of the oceans is neither a “right” nor a “left” issue, Ocean Champions is working aggressively to forge a bipartisan “blue” movement that will move beyond traditional “green” politics and reach out to all individuals who have a stake in healthy oceans.

    The World Ocean Observatory advocates for the ocean through science, research, educational services, and communications tools. If we have an agenda, it is to be universal, egalitarian, and equitable as a voice for the ocean as an “integrated, global social system” that supports and unites the people of the world through sustained natural resources and responsible human endeavor. To meet that goal, we must encourage citizens of the ocean to act, decisively and intelligently, through individual behavior, community involvement, and political action.

    In short, we need citizens of the ocean to vote, and we know of no better guide to the positions of candidates on ocean issues in the United States than Ocean Champions. I invite you to visit them today at www.oceanchampions.org to inform yourself, to support their work if you think it valuable, and otherwise to cast your ballot in favor of men and women, your fellow citizens, whom we know will work aggressively and responsible for the protection, improvement, and sustainability of our maritime resources. 

Peter Neill, Director of the W2O and host of World Ocean Radio, provides coverage of a broad spectrum of ocean issues from science and education to advocacy and exemplary projects.