Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) 2022 has come to a close. This year’s theme was Sea: The Future and was filled with lots of wisdom and actions we can all take to further ocean conservation. God’s marine creations that reside within the ocean are majestic and often mysterious. Those creations are in trouble. Increasingly, as climate change worsens, we see less and less of God’s marine creations near us.
Each year the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation hosts Capitol Hill Ocean Week the first week of June (National Ocean Month). Throughout two days, there are panels of speakers revolving around a set theme. Speakers include federal agency and administration staff, legislators, and members of the ocean conservation community. CHOW is convened to bring policymakers, scientists, managers, business leaders, conservationists, educators, students, and members of the public to engage in dialogue and debate on significant issues that impact our ocean and Great Lakes and to propose innovative policies and partnerships to address these issues. CHOW 2022 is open to the public and free to attendees. The Foundation relies on the generous support of sponsors to host CHOW.
In the wise words of Dr. Kelsey Leonard, University of Waterloo Canada, Member of Shinecock Nation, “We don’t have a crisis in climate, we have a crisis in human.” Dr. Leonard reminded us that mother Earth is capable of healing. In 2020, the world saw that lessened human activity allowed for the space that God’s creation needed to start healing the damage humans have done. As we have done this damage to God’s creation, we are responsible for taking a step back to look at our own behavior. We do indeed have the ability to aid God’s creation in healing, but not necessarily in the ways we have previously thought.
Multiple speakers across panels during CHOW pointed out inefficiencies in the ways we look at conservation. Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, has pointed out, “We need to stop thinking about a sustainable ocean, but a thriving ocean, because sustainability will only allow our standards to go down.” This thread of thought was continued by Patuxent Riverkeeper, Fred Tutman, the longest serving riverkeeper in the Chesapeake Bay Area, “Performing ‘as well as can be expected’ is not enough. We need better ‘best practices’ for our legal system. Paradox between everyone following the rules and the water is still dying. How do we go about designing these projects so that they will not be ineffective?” These words were particularly significant to me.
Slightly better than horrible is still bad. Violet and Fred made excellent points: we have to set our standards high and look at how to enforce the measures put in place to care for God’s creation. The speakers not only pointed out areas of where we needed to improve, but talked about the areas where they are already making progress. Two of those people were Imani Black of Minorities in Aquaculture and Feini Yin of Fishadelphia.
These two organizations are doing incredible work at the intersection of sustainable eating and ocean sustainability. Minorities in Aquaculture teaches people in the Chesapeake Bay area where their food comes from and Fishadelphia is a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) that works to distribute fresh, local seafood to the community at subsidized rates for those in need. Each of these organizations is making strides in their communities that they hope will be replicated in other parts of the country. When looking at the mission statements and achievements of these organizations, I think of the saying, “Think globally, act locally.” I was inspired and refreshed by this year’s CHOW and can’t wait to act with the new knowledge and wisdom I’ve gleaned.
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.