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Influencing Policy

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The Seattle Aquarium works to advance science-based policies to conserve and protect our marine environment. Our advocacy work at the local, state and federal levels contributes to securing climate resilience, sustainable seas and clean waters. Learn how you can raise your voice for ocean health by visiting our Act for the Ocean page and signing up to receive policy and advocacy emails.

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Orca Recovery

We support policies and investments that restore salmon habitat, reduce vessel noise and disturbance, and reduce toxic pollution—all critical for giving the endangered southern resident orcas a real chance at recovery.

Plastic Pollution

From plastic bags and packaging to nurdles and microplastics, plastic pollution is accumulating in the ocean and on our shorelines and putting marine wildlife at risk. We are working to advance policies that will reduce single-use plastics at the source, transform the recycling system and build a circular economy.

Environmental Protections

We are working to maintain, strengthen and implement laws that can conserve our waters and marine wildlife now and into the future. We are also supporting the goal of protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030.

Climate Resilience

We are working to advance policy solutions to avert further ocean acidification and ocean warming and build the resilience of ocean ecosystems and coastal communities.

Environmental Justice

Environmental burdens and benefits are not equitably distributed. We will continue to partner with organizations leading important environmental justice efforts to create a pathway for all communities to benefit from environmental policy.

Sustainable Fisheries and Tourism

The current rate of resource exploitation—from overfishing, energy extraction, coastal development, recreation and tourism—is not sustainable. We support sustainable management practices that conserve ocean biodiversity and habitat, bolster food security and ensure equitable access to marine resources.

Progress Highlights

  • We are advocating for increased federal and state investment in salmon habitat restoration, including the Duckabush Estuary Restoration Project.
  • We are supporting federal legislation to protect marine mammals, including southern resident orcas, from ship strikes and other vessel-related impacts. We also supported state funding for Quiet Sound, a new program that will reduce underwater noise and disturbance from ships.
  • In 2023 we advocated for state legislation to create a 1,000-yard buffer from small vessels around the critically endangered southern resident orcas to help them forage more successfully and feed their young. We are encouraging boaters to take a pledge to protect orcas by giving them more space on the water before these requirements take effect in 2025.
  • We advocated for increased critical habitat for orcas under the Endangered Species Act and urged efforts to reduce risks to orcas from Navy training and testing.
  • In 2019, all four bills we supported passed the state legislature—increasing the distance between boats and southern resident orcas, preventing toxic pollution, protecting habitat for Chinook salmon and reducing oil spill risk.
  • In 2023, we worked with our partners in the Plastic Free Washington Coalition to pass HB 1085 in Washington state, which will make tangible reductions in three sources of unnecessary plastic waste—single-use water bottles, mini hotel toiletries and plastic foam-filled docks and floats.
  • We are advocating for lasting solutions to plastic pollution, including the federal Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act and Reducing Waste in National Parks Act, as well as producer responsibility legislation in Washington state.
  • In 2021, we worked with our partners to pass SB 5022 in Washington state. That law banned certain expanded polystyrene foam products, like recreational coolers and packing peanuts. It required manufacturers of things like plastic beverage bottles, trash bags and laundry detergent and shampoo containers to use post-consumer recycled content. Foodservice businesses may now only provide single-use utensils, straws, condiment packets and cold-beverage lids when the customer confirms they want those items.
  • In 2020, we helped pass the Reusable Bag Bill to eliminate thin, single-use plastic bags in Washington state.
  • In the 2022 state legislature, we advocated for a successful bill that will enable Washington to develop a plan to protect and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by 2040. 
  • We support the national and international 30×30 goal to protect and conserve 30% of land and waters, including the ocean, by 2030, as well as the principles and targets of the related “America the Beautiful” initiative.
  • We are speaking up in support of restoring federal environmental protections under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
  • We are supporting the federal Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act and opposing any new offshore oil or gas drilling.
  • We are supporting policies to reduce oil spill risk and phase out fossil fuels.
  • In Washington state, we supported the 2021 Clean Fuel Standard and a 2019 law to move toward a 100% clean energy future. 
  • We are supporting national and international 30×30 efforts that increase equitable access to nature and nature’s benefits; gather and represent broad and diverse input from communities across the nation; and ensure everyone thrives from healthy and resilient protected ecosystems.
  • We endorsed the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, which passed in 2021, as well as the Environmental Justice Task Force recommendations.
  • We are supporting a strong, science-based package to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act—landmark bipartisan legislation that has supported recovery of fisheries in the Pacific Northwest, including the canary rockfish.
  • In 2020, we advised the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on science-based rules for the new commercial whale-watching license program to reduce daily and cumulative impacts on southern resident orcas.
  • We stand with Alaska Natives, fishing communities and others in opposition to the Bristol Bay Pebble Mine, which would put the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and one of the most prolific Chinook salmon runs at risk.
  • In 2023, we worked closely with partners to pass SB 5104 in Washington, which established a regular shoreline survey which will help fill data gaps about marine shoreline conditions to enable strategic, targeted recovery actions to benefit salmon, orcas and the marine food web.
  • We are advocating for breaching of the four lower Snake River dams to benefit endangered wild salmon and steelhead.
  • In 2021, we worked with partners to ban seabed mining in state-managed waters.

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