The Beacon

CEO Note: Maryland Takes the Lead

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless

If you’re a Marylander like me, this is a time to be proud. The Old Line State has stepped forward, making ocean conservation a priority and providing an example that other states would be wise to follow.

First, Maryland became a leader in developing offshore wind energy by passing The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley this week. The measure will help spur the development of at least 200 megawatts of renewable energy off Maryland’s coast – enough to power about 200,000 homes.

While wind turbines already dot Europe’s coast, the United States has yet to construct a single offshore wind farm. Maryland’s legislation marks an important milestone on this country’s path to a clean ocean energy future.

This victory was made possible by the tireless advocacy of Oceana and a diverse coalition of environmental, faith, business and community groups, all of which recognized the need to transition to this clean and abundant form of energy, and away from fossil fuels. Special thanks to Chesapeake Climate Action Network, National Wildlife Federation, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Sierra Club and Environment Maryland for helping to pressure lawmakers to take this first step towards a greener energy portfolio for the state.

Second, both the Maryland House and Senate passed a bill to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fins. Pending the signature of the Governor, Maryland will become the first state on the East Coast to adopt such a ban. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year, primarily to support the demand for shark fin soup. While shark finning is banned in the U.S, this brutal practice—which involves slicing the fins off a live shark and then dumping it back in the water where it is left to die—is still occurring around the world.  By stopping the shark fin trade in state, Maryland can help protect sharks worldwide.

So congratulations Maryland, but remember, there’s a lot of work still left to do to protect our oceans. As for the rest of the states, what are you waiting for?

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