Jon White – From the President’s Office: 03-11-2019

2019-03-11T16:53:03+00:00 March 11, 2019|

Remember the Mayflower? 400 years later, Plymouth is launching something new.

As warmer weather finally returns to Washington, D.C., I begin preparations and negotiations with my 59-year old body for another Cherry Blossom 10-miler in a month (the trees should actually be near the peak of their bloom this year). One of the great things about this city is the National Park area, where I ran my six miles yesterday.  I truly enjoy and am inspired by exploring and connecting with historic sights and “urban wilderness” areas that stretch from D.C. all the way to the Appalachian Trail.  They are some of the best parts of living in our nation’s capital.

Last week, I read about a new plan from the University of Plymouth to designate the seas around historic Plymouth as the United Kingdom’s first National Marine Park. The study that proposed the idea — which drew upon experts from beyond just marine science, dipping into social science and humanities as well — noted that marine parks promote marine literacy and stewardship, something we at COL are always working towards. Different from a marine protected area, a marine park can empower everyday citizens to care for and build a connection with the ocean in a way they may not have been able to otherwise – like the trash (including plastic) that many of us pick up as we enjoy the D.C. area parks. On top of all of that, the parks can have human health and economic benefits, too.  Just the shear, natural, oceanic beauty of Johnson National Seashore near Pensacola, Florida, and Biscayne National Park near Miami, along with numerous other coastal state and national parks across our maritime nation, have inspired me and countless others to spend much of our lives trying to better understand and care for the ocean.

A well-resourced and managed park inspires curiosity and partnership in the surrounding community, and I think increasing and enhancing marine parks in the U.S. to that end is something we could (and should) certainly do, especially considering that about 40 percent of the nation lives near the coast. I wonder what D.C. might be like if its famous Tidal Basin was transformed into more of a tidal pool basin, where in addition to looking at cherry trees that rarely bloom on time and memorials to Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson, residents and tourists alike could learn about the oyster reefs that filter the largest estuary in our nation (the Chesapeake Bay), catch a glimpse of a rare Atlantic sturgeon, or see a blue crab somewhere other than their dinner plate. I think our ocean world could use a few more pilgrimages to oceanic parks that truly educate, inspire, and change perspectives as well as behaviors.

Warm Seas Scatter Fish
Fish provide a vital source of protein for over half the world’s population, with over 56 million people employed by or subsisting on fisheries. But climate change is beginning to disrupt the complex, interconnected systems that underpin this major source of food. A team of scientists led by Christopher Free, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, has published an investigation of how warming waters may affect the productivity of fisheries.

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