Our Nation stretches from one ocean to another. This watery boundary shapes not just our landmass, but the people within it. Oceans surround us—they inspire us, employ us, and sustain us. We know that oceans are necessary for life on earth. That’s why we must treat the ocean’s resources with respect and safeguard its waters for future generations.
Each year, the President has issued a proclamation designating June as National Oceans Month. This annual tradition recognizes our incredible ocean heritage. Our oceans are home to majestic sea turtles, colorful coral reefs, and unique organisms that scientists are only beginning to understand. From the vast waters, we derive jobs, food, and recreation. National Oceans Month is an opportunity for all of us to recommit to our oceans and to ensure their health and prosperity.
Our oceans face many challenges, from ocean acidification to harmful algal blooms and more. Marine debris and other pollutants harm not just the ocean’s waters, but the creatures that struggle to survive within its depths. Illegal, unlawful, and unregulated fishing threatens fisheries around the world and the livelihoods of those who depend on the fisheries’ resilience.
This Administration has taken significant steps to better understand and respond to the challenges facing our oceans today. The National Ocean Policy provides a coordinated national framework for the federal government to take action in collaboration with communities and stakeholders. Already, we have achieved many successes. The Administration initiated the first effort to trace illegally captured fish that enter the United States. Last month, the Northeast Regional Planning Body released the Nation’s first draft regional marine plan for public comment. The development of that draft plan included tremendous public participation, demonstrating the common bond and responsibility we share for stewardship of our oceans. And, regional planning bodies around the country have launched comprehensive data portals to provide accurate and current data for decisions makers and the public. These data portals help all of us better understand our oceans and plan for their future.
From tiny turtle hatchlings to magnificent whales to humans, we all need the ocean. You can help our oceans through many acts, large and small. Share your voice by submitting comments on the Nation’s first draft regional marine plan. Shrink your carbon footprint by using public transit, turning off your lights, and turning down your heat. Reduce marine debris by joining a local beach cleanup or supporting recycling programs in your community. Support resilient fisheries by purchasing only sustainable seafood. Avoid purchasing items that exploit marine life, such as coral jewelry and turtle shell accessories. Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags, which can end up in the ocean and harm marine life.
National Oceans Month is the perfect time to take action. Honoring the ocean is honoring ourselves and our shared heritage. Together, we can ensure that our oceans thrive, today and always.
Jennifer Lee is Deputy General Counsel and Policy Advisor for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.