Monterey Bay Aquarium will be a 'Voice for the Ocean' at U.N. Ocean Conference, June 5-9 in New York

May 30, 2017

Conservation & Science
Sunset over the Great Tide Pool at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. ©Monterey Bay Aquarium 

The ocean produces half the oxygen we breathe, regulates climate by absorbing atmospheric carbon, and is the primary source of protein for 3.5 billion people. More than 80 percent of the Earth’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast. These and other critical benefits are fast eroding as growing human needs strain the ocean’s living systems as never before.

From June 5 through June 9, the United Nations will take on the challenge when it hosts its first Ocean Conference in New York City – a global gathering focused on protecting the ocean resources so vital to human survival. The Monterey Bay Aquarium will play a significant role in the conference, advocating for global action to reduce ocean plastic pollution, new commitments that promote sustainable international fisheries, and concerted plans to tackle ocean acidification and other impacts of climate change.

“The ocean plays a vital role in enabling life on Earth to exist, yet ocean health has been ignored for too long by international decision-makers,” said Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “The U.N. Ocean Conference is a signal that things are changing. We’ll be there as a voice for the living ocean on which our future depends.”

Packard noted that the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal for the ocean mirrors the priorities the aquarium works to advance, in the United States and around the world. Key staff will contribute to Ocean Conference forums at U.N. Headquarters on critical issues, including:

  • Advancing sustainable global fisheries: Through its Seafood Watch program and extensive international policy work, the aquarium plays a respected and influential role – among governments, major businesses, producers and consumers – in shifting global seafood production in more sustainable directions. Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, director of global fisheries and aquaculture for the aquarium, will speak at one of the conference’s marquee events – a U.N .Partnership Dialogue on Wednesday, June 7 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). The dialogue, co-chaired by the nations of Canada and Senegal, will focus on “Making fisheries sustainable”. Other speakers include representatives of the World Trade Organization, U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and an international fisheries management body for the Caribbean region.

On Monday, June 5 (9:30- 10 a.m. panel; 11:30 a.m. to noon press briefing), aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard will be part of a World Economic Forum announcement and discussion about new commitments from major seafood businesses, and several governments and nonprofit organizations, to end illegal, unregulated and unreported tuna fishing around the world.

  • Combatting ocean acidification: The aquarium was an early supporter of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, and will join the founding partners – British Columbia, and the states of California, Oregon and Washington – at an event on Thursday, June 8 (3-4:30 p.m.). Margaret Spring, aquarium vice president for conservation and science, and chief conservation officer, will speak on a panel addressing ocean acidification action plans to protect vulnerable resources.
  • Reducing plastic pollution: The aquarium championed California’s first-in-the-nation statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, and this summer will launch a collaborative campaign involving 19 leading U.S. aquariums to reduce consumer demand for single-use plastic products – from drinking straws to shopping bags. These aquariums will also announce a commitment later this summer to reduce and eliminate single-use plastic from our food and retail operations. On Monday, June 5 (3-4:30 p.m.), Aimee David, aquarium director of ocean conservation policy strategies, will address efforts to tackle marine debris internationally and nationally – a panel hosted by Costa Rica with support from the U.N. Environment Programme, Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Zoological Society of London.

The aquarium’s influence extends beyond its formal role at specific Ocean Conference sessions.

  • World Ocean Festival:  On Sunday, June 4, its Seafood Watch team will be part of a daylong World Ocean Festival, a free event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Governors Island in New York Harbor that precedes Monday’s opening of the U.N. Ocean Conference. It will host a public exhibit space about sustainable fisheries and aquaculture opportunities, and a Seafood Watch expert will be part of a sustainable seafood presentation during the festival. Learn more at  
  • #OneLess campaign: In partnership with the U.N. Environment Program, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, Ocean Conservancy and the Zoological Society of London, Monterey Bay Aquarium will promote the #OneLess initiative aimed inspiring Ocean Conference delegates and the public to reduce their use of single-use plastic products like water bottles. From Monday, June 5 through Friday, June 9 the campaign will distribute reusable water bottles to conference attendees and United Nations’ staff, and will encourage delegates – when they return home – to promote policies at the national, regional and local level to reduce and eliminate single-use plastic products. Learn more at

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean. It works globally to advance policies that address climate change, protect vulnerable ocean species and ecosystems, reduce ocean plastic pollution, and promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. As a destination, it attracts two million visitors a year and is rated by peers and public alike as the finest public aquarium in the world. Its education programs welcome nearly 100,000 schoolchildren and teachers annually –free of charge – for programs and professional development workshops. Its research team is a leader and partner in globally significant studies of white shark and Pacific bluefin tuna migrations, the impact of sea otters on coastal ecosystem health, and the movement of plastic and other pollutants across ocean basins. Learn more at


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The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.