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, help prevent oil spills, and reduce toxic pollution—all critical for giving the endangered southern resident orcas a real chance at recovery. In 2019, we testified in support of bills in Olympia and hosted a press conference with our partners, and all four bills passed the legislature, resulting in meaningful new protections for the orcas and their prey. We also supported increased critical habitat for orcas and urged efforts to reduce risks to orcas from Navy training and testing activities.

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 2019, we supported a bill that requires an assessment of plastic packaging sold into the state and the creation of draft legislation for a plastic packaging stewardship program. We also continue to push for the elimination of thin, single-use plastic bags.

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. In 2018, we invited Aquarium visitors to join us in opposing the proposed weakening of the Endangered Species Act. In 2019, we have spoken up against the proposed weakening of the Clean Water Act. In 2019, we spoke up against the proposed weakening of the Clean Water Act and efforts to weaken Washington’s water quality standards.

Puget Sound beach
Building climate resilience

We are working at both the state and federal levels to advance policy solutions to avert further ocean acidification and ocean warming. We support policies that build the resilience of ocean ecosystems and coastal communities against the effects of climate change. We have endorsed bills and initiatives that would help us accelerate the transition to a clean energy future, including a new law passed in 2019 to move Washington toward a 100% clean energy future.

Ochre sea stars
Advancing environmental justice

Environmental burdens and benefits are not equitably distributed. In 2019, we endorsed the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act. 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.