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, resulting in meaningful new protections for the orcas and their prey. We have also supported increased critical habitat for orcas, urged efforts to reduce risks to orcas from Navy training and testing activities, advised the state on science-based rules for the new commercial whale-watching license program, and helped to organize a voluntary boater pledge.

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, and we will continue efforts to dramatically reduce single-use packaging with a bill in the next legislative session.

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. 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 and one that passed in 2020 to update the state’s emissions reduction targets based on the latest science.

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.