“We get so much from the ocean in terms of recreation, transportation, trade, energy, protein, medicinal values and spiritual values, that sense of awe and wonder being part of something bigger than ourself, that we really need to get organized and give something back.” ~ David Helvarg
David Helvarg is not your average scuba diver. Helvarg brings his experience as a war correspondent, broadcast documentary producer and author (Saved by the Sea, Blue Frontier, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean and more) to the creation of the ocean issues group Blue Frontier, and the bi-annual Blue Vision Summit in Washington DC. As a licensed private investigator David gives us the real inside scoop on ocean policy leadership, and how to become a Seaweed Rebel.
Where’s the Blue in the Red, White and Blue
“We’re trying to create a sea party of engaged citizens who will let their representatives (*in Congress) know that no matter how much the oil and gas industry pays them, if they alienate their constituents back home on the beach, they’re not going to be there long.” “The idea of the Sea Party Coalition is we’re going to show up at every candidate’s event and we’re going to say, “What about the public seas? What about restoring the blue in our red, white and blue?” “The solutions are there and they’re exciting and the challenge is to engage enough people that the old reactionary attitudes of the status quo can be moved, that can move beyond over fishing, beyond pollution, beyond fossil fuels and hopefully in time that the natural resiliency of the ocean is still in place.”
David has established the Blue Vision Summit, to bring hundreds of local, regional, and national folks together to work out policy for our public seas including ocean acidification, plastic pollution and over fishing, “This year it was very exceptional. It was the largest systematic lobby for ocean conservation in history. We had people in twenty-four state delegations, a hundred sixty-three meetings including direct meetings with nine senators and more than twenty-five House members to oppose offshore drilling and to support an IUU pirate fishing bill.” “You remind them that we’re their employers, that we’ve elected these people. They work for us, not the other way around.”
David says there are many ways to become a Citizen Scientist and express your concern about keeping our oceans clean and the marine environment sustainable, including organizations that you can join, for example: “Reef Relief, which is one of the first groups I got to profile as a journalist back in the ‘90s. They were putting buoys up so that the people wouldn’t drop their anchors on the reefs. They had a bumper sticker that said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”.
When You Do the Right Thing, there’s Tremendous Resiliency in the Ocean
Fortunately, there is also good news “I was just visiting yesterday with Fred Dirk who runs ROVs, does surveys of these marine protected areas off California. We’ve had protection around the Channel Islands for seven years and he’s seen and video documented this tremendous comeback of the moray eels and the big lobsters and the black sea bass.” “Once marine wildlife starts coming back, it comes back like boomers. When you do the right things, there’s still tremendous resiliency in the ocean.”
David points out that there are many things that can be done as individuals to make sustainable choices, including sustainable travel or “the food choices we make, not just sustainable seafood, but you need more organic and vegetarian. I talked about the dead zone. The U.N.’s identified over four hundred coastal dead zones. That’s where the nutrients from all the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers run into the ocean… Eating more organic means less application of synthetic petroleum based additives and the more local you can eat, the less carbon footprint.”
David is an Ocean Author and writes in one of his books, “how much is left to save and restore, if we can. Not sure it will be enough to turn the tide. All I know for certain is if we don’t try, we lose. This salty blue world of ours is too heart-achingly beautiful, scary and sacred to lose. If you don’t and look back from the heavens. It’s not God’s green earth. It’s God’s blue marble. “
Learn how to be an Ocean Change-Maker and a sustainable diver join David Helvarg to hear his entire interview overflowing with great ideas at the Blue Ocean Summit 2015: David Helvarg. Visit Blue Frontier or check out David’s Blue Vision Summit. And don’t forget to visit Reef Relief. To support the Blue Ocean community and to order David Helvarg’s books Saved by the Sea, Blue Frontier and 50 Ways to Save the Ocean find them at the Store.
Another of our speakers Stan Waterman has been at the forefront of scuba diving since its inception as a recreational sport both in this country and throughout the world. Stan has been an award winning, underwater film maker for over 60 years. This enormous span of experience gives Stan a unique perspective on the changes he has observed in the health of the world’s marine eco-system. Read Stan’s article “Dive Resorts as Guardians of the Sea” at Ocean Profiles: Stan Waterman.