Ocean policy and advocacy

The Seattle Aquarium works to develop and advance science-based policies to conserve and protect our marine environment.

Four orca dorsal fins
Hastening orca recovery

We support policies that increase Chinook salmon availability, reduce the impacts of vessel noise and disturbance, and reduce toxic pollution—all critical for giving the endangered southern resident orcas a real chance at recovery. In 2019, all four bills that we supported passed the legislature. We have also supported increased critical habitat for orcas, urged efforts to reduce risks to orcas from Navy training and testing, advised the state on science-based rules for the commercial whale-watching license program, and helped to organize a voluntary boater pledge. In the 2021 state legislature, we supported funding for Quiet Sound, a new program that will reduce ship noise and disturbance affecting the orcas.

Learn more about the Puget Sound's resident orca pod with our interactive orca family tree

Kelp underwater
Reducing plastic pollution

From plastic bags and derelict fishing gear to microplastics and microbeads, plastic pollution is accumulating in the ocean. We are working to advance policies that will reduce use, stem the flow, increase upcycling and improve compliance. In 2020, we helped pass the Reusable Bag Bill to eliminate thin, single-use plastic bags in Washington State. In 2021, we worked with our partners to pass SB 5022, which banned certain expanded polystyrene foam products; required manufacturers of plastic beverage bottles, trash bags, and household cleaning and personal care containers to use post-consumer recycled content; and allowed food service businesses to provide single-use utensils, straws, condiment packets and cold-beverage lids only when the customer confirms they want them.

Puget Sound with ferry
Maintaining federal protections

Federal laws provide critical protections for our waters and marine wildlife, and we are working to maintain and strengthen those laws. We have spoken up against efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and Washington’s water quality standards.

Puget Sound beach
Building 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. In Washington state, we supported the 2021 Clean Fuel Standard and a 2019 law to move toward a 100% clean energy future. We are also supporting policies to reduce oil spill risk and phase out fossil fuels.

Ochre sea stars
Advancing environmental justice

Environmental burdens and benefits are not equitably distributed. We endorsed the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, which passed in 2021, as well as the Environmental Justice Task Force recommendations. We will continue to partner with organizations leading these important environmental justice efforts to create a pathway for all communities to benefit from environmental policy in Washington. 

Canary rockfish
Promoting sustainable fisheries and tourism

The current rate of resource exploitation—from overfishing, energy extraction, coastal development, recreation and tourism—is not sustainable. We are partnering with The Ocean Project to oppose weakening of 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.