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November 14, 2016

CEO Note: What’s Next?


After a U.S. presidential election that shocked pollsters, pundits and observers around the world, so many of us are grappling with the question: what do we do now? The good news is that, for Oceana, it is clear what we will do next: we will fight hard and we will win victories for the oceans as we have always done. And, we believe, this election could make Oceana’s mission and focus more important than ever before.

Oceana is a science-based, non-partisan organization. We have successfully campaigned and won important policy victories under administrations of all ideological stripes because a healthy, responsibly-managed ocean not only protects biodiversity: it provides food and jobs to people around the world. In the U.S., earlier this year, we worked with legislators from both parties to introduce the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. The landmark fisheries law in the U.S. – Magnuson-Stevens – is named for a senator from each party. In Chile, we worked with a conservative president to create one of the largest protected areas on the planet. Should the opportunity arise, Oceana will be ready to work with the new administration to promote healthy oceans.

But we will not be naïve. We are watching the actions of the incoming president and the people around him closely. Unfortunately, there are early indications that the Trump administration may pursue policies extremely detrimental to the oceans. In the next four years, we may be called upon to defend key ocean policies and regulations like the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Magnuson-Stevens and the offshore oil drilling moratorium. Consider:

  • Some key supporters of President-elect Trump have already called on him to reverse President Obama’s actions designating marine national monuments – which include one of the largest protected ocean areas in the world.
  • President-elect Trump just announced that Steve Bannon will be his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon previously ran Breitbart News, an outlet which has frequently published attacks on the Endangered Species Act, wind energy and opponents of offshore drilling.
  • Breitbart articles have referred to ocean acidification as a “dodgy scam” and called climate change “the greatest-ever conspiracy against the taxpayer.”
  • In the UK, Breitbart provided a home for Brexit “leave” campaigners to rail against the current European Union’s fisheries policy that Oceana helped to pass.
  • President-elect Trump has named a climate change denier to head his EPA transition team.
  • Early reports suggest that Sarah Palin (of “Drill, Baby, Drill” fame) is a possible nominee for the Department of the Interior.

If President Trump attempts to dismantle key laws protecting our oceans, we will fight him every step of the way. If he embraces protecting the oceans – following in the footsteps of previous administrations of both parties – we will be ready to work with him. We have the backing of key allies and experience dealing with challenging political environments, both here in the U.S. and in countries around the world. We have the expertise and clarity of vision necessary to defend our policies, and are ready to hit the ground running. Most importantly, we have grassroots support – people like you – that we can count on to rally to the oceans’ defense.

And with your support, I know we will continue to win.

For the oceans,

Andrew Sharpless