By Diego Quispe Huaman
To support marine conservation and fundraise for the Blue Frontier Campaign’s “March for the Ocean,” UCI senior Jack Anderson created the Ocean Awareness Run. This Saturday, Anderson and four other UC students participating in the UCDC program will be running 32 miles from the stairs of the Capitol Building to the nearest coastal beach in the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay.
Anderson is an intern at Blue Frontier Campaign, a marine conservation group that is largely focused on uniting the marine conservation community and informing the general public about ocean-related issues. As part of their “March for the Ocean” event in June, conservationists, scientists and concerned citizens will march on Capitol Hill and around the country to advocate for sustainable ocean policy.
“Thousands of people will demonstrate to the policy-makers in Washington D.C. that there is a strong constituency that wants U.S. waters to be treated responsibly, with restricted drilling, protected national monuments and decreased carbon emissions,” said Anderson.
The Ocean Awareness Run aspires not only to have an impact on public opinion and policy, but also to ignite conversations.
“I think that the ocean needs to be discussed more often,” said Anderson. “There are a lot of people who are unaware of what ocean acidification is, or that sea levels have significantly risen over the past decade. The more people that are aware of these issues, the more likely it is that they will appreciate the value of the ocean, recognize its delicacy, and write to congresswomen and men about ocean conservation issues.”
Shortly after arriving in D.C., Anderson formed a running group and met other UCDC participants interested in the Ocean Awareness Run. Originally, they ran in local 5Ks hosted by the Polish Embassy, the Prevent Cancer Foundation and the United States Marine Corps. For the Ocean Awareness Run, Anderson is personally covering all the costs for the runners. The four other runners include UC Riverside student Joy Chi, UC Santa Barbara student Wilialdo Mendoza and UCLA students Victor Martin and Josie Morgan.
“We are only five UC students, and our voices may seem small during a time where there are many important social and environmental issues at stake. However, I have great faith in our potential to raise funds to help propel the March for the Ocean, which will have a massive voice that will push U.S. ocean policy and opinion in the right direction,” said Anderson.
Regarding the significance of the route for the Ocean Awareness Run, Anderson said, “It serves a statement about how closely Congressional policies and Marine Natural Resources are linked. Poor decisions made on Capitol Hill directly impact our oceans; the run bridges a literal distance between policy and environment in an effort to remind people of that fact. It also seemed appropriate to herald the March for the Ocean by making the Ocean Awareness Run start where the March for the Ocean will end: Congress, the center of U.S. policy-making”
Anderson has been working as a tour guide for the Ocean Institute, located in Dana Point, for almost two years now. The Ocean Institute attempts to impact marine natural resource policy by helping create an informed public that is invested in ocean policy. They bring local families, international travelers and young students closer to the ocean through observation and experience.
“I love the ocean,” said Anderson. “I grew up surfing in San Onofre with my family, running along the coastline in the sands of San Clemente and snorkeling in the majestic kelp forests in Laguna Beach and Catalina. I really do believe that if most people got to see first-hand what is in our local waters, the marine conservation community would be much larger.
“The ocean is my livelihood and my hobby,” he continued. “I not only work at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, but I also run a 55-gallon saltwater fish tank at home that currently houses a cranky blue-velvet damselfish and a good-natured cleaner shrimp. Advocating for responsible ocean policy is a no brainer because it impacts many of the best aspects of my life.”
Anderson suggests that those with an interest in helping begin by researching ocean-related issues. They could also generate interest among their friends by sharing petitions on social media.
“Advocate for policies like the ‘Save our Seas Act’ by signing petitions and contacting local Congresswomen and men,” said Anderson. “Donate to conservation-oriented organizations such as Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Marine Conservation Institute which advocate for responsible ocean policy and take tangible actions to protect local waters. Make the things that you use last as long as they can; conservationism is not just buying a brand-new product. Oftentimes, it’s making an old product last as long as it can. Carpool to school, use reusable bags and join trash cleanup projects at local beaches.”
Those interested in donating to the Ocean Awareness Run can visit https://www.oceanawarenessrun.site