Be a Voice for the Ocean

Not only is the ocean our planet's life support system, but it's also a source of many climate solutions—so why not keep the ocean in mind when casting your ballot?

  • News
  • Conservation

The National Aquarium's climate priorities—combatting climate change, stopping plastic pollution, and saving wildlife and habitats—are global issues that require small and large collective action. Individual actions can range from reducing personal energy use to eating more plant-based diets. But one of the most impactful actions we can take to protect the environment is voting! Electing officials who support conservation initiatives makes achieving large-scale climate solutions possible.

Election season has started in the U.S. and it's time to check your voter status—or register to vote if you haven't already. The wildlife and habitats you care for deserve officials who prioritize their protection. So, before you head to the ballot box, research candidates to learn their positions on these issues.

The National Aquarium advocates for local, state and federal policies aligning with our conservation goals. Although conservation policy initiatives where you live may differ from examples described here, supporting candidates backing similar policies is voting with the ocean in mind.

Cast a Vote for Wildlife

Loss of wildlife and climate change are connected issues. From disruptions in spawning or migratory patterns to changes in prey availability, many species struggle to adapt to changing climates. In response, they either try to find new homes or decline in numbers. Species vanishing means fewer links tying an ecosystem together, stressing it further. That's why protecting species through effective legislation like the Endangered Species Act can have ecosystem-wide impacts. Electing lawmakers who will work toward improving and expanding wildlife protections is a key way to bolster species' populations and allow habitats to resist disturbances better.

Aquarium Staff Holding a Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle in Preparation for Release

The National Aquarium is championing the bipartisan Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance and Rehabilitation Act to establish a permanent grant program for sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation organizations. This spring, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate. Another consequential bill before Congress is the Recovering America's Wildlife Act. If passed, it would provide states with crucial resources to help save at-risk species across America. Keeping species from becoming endangered is less costly than saving them once they are. It also protects ecosystem health. This Act offers an economically and environmentally responsible solution by making sure wildlife thrives.

As you assess candidates, consider those supporting policies that emphasize and invest in protecting U.S. wildlife and habitats.

Emphasize Renewable Energy

Innovation in the face of climate change is critical. The ocean is full of creative climate solutions, from restoring habitats that naturally store carbon to harnessing renewable energy in coastal areas. Maryland's vast coastline and dense population make offshore wind energy one of the state's most viable sustainable energy sources. In 2023, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the bipartisan Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act. It's a crucial step in increasing offshore wind capacity to achieve the state's enacted goal to limit its reliance on fossil fuels by 2031.

While offshore wind is a smart solution in Maryland and along much of our nation's coastlines, renewable energy sources can vary by area. Geography, weather trends and even energy infrastructure can affect which renewable energy sources are most suitable near you. Regardless of the type of renewable source, developing energy technology independent of fossil fuels is necessary to combat climate change. Look for candidates championing renewable energy development, upgraded energy infrastructure and increased access to new energy sources.

Reduce Plastic's Presence and Production

The scale of global plastic production is immense. Limiting production is the only meaningful way to keep plastic out of our waste streams and out of the ocean. Making plastic releases significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Pollution from plastic along its entire supply chain unduly impacts communities of color and people living in low-income areas. In addition, it breaks down further into microplastics that spread into food chains, ending up inside humans and wildlife. To curb the plastic problem, hundreds of U.S. cities and counties, along with some states, have passed laws limiting pollution from problematic single-use plastic items like carryout bags. So far, ten states have followed Maryland's lead in phasing out polystyrene foam foodware. Policies like these add to efforts to clean up existing plastic pollution, can change attitudes around plastic use, and help slow plastic production and consumption.

Even if initiatives start at the local level, they can lead to state-wide and federal legislation—as long as the public increasingly supports these efforts and elects engaged legislators! As you research candidates, look for those who support effective legislation designed to minimize plastic use, tackle existing pollution and assist communities affected by its production and litter.

Part of a Larger Picture

Nearly half the world's population will cast ballots in elections across the globe this year. Although thousands of miles separate these nations, the ocean connects us all. We are one of millions of species whose health, stability and prosperity are tied to marine and freshwater ecosystems. If you are eligible to vote, be a voice for these habitats and the creatures living in them: vote with the ocean in mind.

Image of offshore wind turbines near Block Island courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.

Related Stories

Animals Animal Rescue Season Inside Scoop

Animals Sand, Surf and Seals

Multimedia Quiz: Are You Versed in our Conservation Work?

Subscribe To Our Newsletter Sign up to receive updates on animals, news and events.