Are you concerned about the state of New England’s ocean? If you are, you’re in good company, according to a recent public opinion poll from CLF. Fewer New Englanders today believe that our waters are in good health. They’re also growing increasingly concerned about climate change, ocean acidification, habitat damage, fish populations, and injury and loss of marine mammals, among other threats.
The science backs them up. Threats like plastic pollution, rising temperatures, overfishing, and more are putting the sea at risk. Thankfully, we can take action to reverse this trend and protect our beautiful marine environment.
What’s at Stake?
New Englanders care deeply about the health of the ocean. In fact, 92% of the poll’s respondents said a healthy ocean with plentiful and diverse marine life is important to them personally. Their top reasons include how the ocean contributes to their quality of life, the well-being of coastal communities, the economy, and the region’s ability to cope with the impacts of climate change. These beliefs spanned every New England state and the political spectrum. From lobster fisheries to whale watching to recreational boating, our waters are crucial to New England’s culture and economy.
However, barely half of those polled rated the health of New England’s ocean positively – a significant drop from past polls. Unfortunately, the science validates people’s fears for our ocean’s future. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 97% of ocean areas worldwide, disrupting its delicate marine ecosystem. Atlantic cod are overfished, while North Atlantic right whales hover on the brink of extinction. Climate change is making life harder for both iconic species. Growing amounts of plastic pollution, including microplastics, are choking marine life. When people express their concern for the state of the sea, they have good reason.
What Can We Do?
People want to take action. Thankfully, science provides solutions to match the problems, and CLF is fighting to make those solutions a reality.
One of the most impactful things we can do is to protect more areas of our ocean. More than 80% of New Englanders across the political spectrum support permanently protecting more of our ocean. Most New Englanders see protecting ocean habitat as a way to safeguard endangered species; protect feeding, breeding and nursery areas for fish and marine mammals; and restore marine life populations. Protected places like the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument are cradles of vibrant, irreplaceable marine life and will help build the ocean’s resilience to climate change. Ancient colonies of rare deep sea corals, multiple species of whales, dolphins and porpoises and an astounding diversity of other marine wildlife thrive in the safety of these protected waters. And protected areas like the Canyons and Seamounts can serve as a living laboratory and listening post to study how climate change is affecting our ocean.
CLF’s poll reveals that New Englanders believe that a healthy ocean is vital to their quality of life and economy, yet they are more worried than ever about the state of our ocean waters. CLF believes that protecting special areas in the sea is a critical part of any solution to restore and protect New England’s ocean, and it’s clear a majority of New Englanders think so too.