One of the goals of our 2011–2030 Strategic Plan is to “provide leadership across our community as the region’s premier platform for marine conservation education and ecosystem understanding.” One way we work to achieve that goal is by aligning with like-minded organizations and initiatives to strengthen marine conservation efforts. Our work in this area is highlighted by two recent activities:
Green Marine is an international organization of hundreds of ship owners, ports, terminals, shipyards, suppliers, governmental bodies and environmental groups dedicated to environmental excellence in the maritime industry. In 2014, the Seattle Aquarium became the first American aquarium to affiliate with this effort, joining the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia as well as the Port of Seattle. In May of 2015, we hosted the West Coast’s first Green Marine conference.
State Initiative I-1401, “Saving Animals Facing Extinction”, goes to voters this November. If passed, it would be a felony to sell, buy or trade particular animal species, or their parts/derivatives, within the state of Washington. Animals that would receive this protection include elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, pangolins, sea turtles, sharks and manta rays.
The initiative closely matches a national effort launched this year by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), of which the Seattle Aquarium is an accredited member, to encourage all member organizations to engage in endangered species action and education.
Our board of directors voted to authorize the Aquarium to work closely with leading partners, including Vulcan, the Woodland Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Humane Society, and others, to support I-1401. On July 1, we hosted a press conference highlighting the collaborative support for this effort, and delivery of 300,000 signatures to the Washington Secretary of State’s office.