Experts Gather for Marine and Inland “CHOW” in Washington

Convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF), Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) brought together several AFS partners and government officials in one space to talk about issues like aquaculture, adaptive management, NOAA’s “blue economy,” coastal community vulnerabilities, and climate change impacts.

CHOW is an annual event that examines current marine, coastal, and Great Lakes issues, or as NMSF describes it: “working together for sustainable waters.” In addition to addressing the issues above, there were special areas of focus: the harmful impacts of plastics on the oceans and how to use video, photography and art “to put marine conservation issues in front of news audiences and inspire conservation and sustainable use.”

Plenary highlights from the meeting included NOAA’s Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, RDML Tim Gallaudet, as a featured speaker. He explained how the U.S. Department of Commerce planned to triple aquaculture along the coasts, expand marine sanctuaries, and double the GDP of US EEZ over ten years. [The Exclusive Economic Zone is where a country claims exclusive rights to manage fisheries and prevent overfishing.]

The Honorable Jimmy Panetta, U.S. House of Representatives, CA-20, participated in the private sector discussion on day two of CHOW. As a featured presenter for the Margaret Davidson Emerging Leaders Roundtable, he helped guide the discourse on how young leaders could help direct the private sector and become catalysts for change in marine conservation. The second day closed with the Congressional Leadership Roundtable featuring The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senate, RI-, The Honorable Francis Rooney, U.S. House of Representatives, FL-19, and The Honorable Suzanne Bonamici, U.S. House of Representatives, OR-01. The closing session underscored the need for both coastal and inland communities to use and protect natural resources in a sustainable manner.

For the first time, CHOW included a “Hill Day,” allowing for pre-registered attendees to hear from those on Capitol Hill about the current state of ocean policy. Kris Sarri, President and CEO of NMSF, reminded us as the event came to a close, that it was important to convene thought leaders on these issues, but equally important to let this meeting be the start of the conversation.

AFS staff attended the meeting to learn more about marine and inland U.S. Government policies, stakeholder engagement and trends in marine and inland conservation outreach.