Monterey Bay Aquarium Recognizes Four Legislators as 2019 California Ocean Champions

Mar 20, 2019

Monterey Bay Aquarium recognized four California legislators with its 2019 Ocean Champion Awards, honoring their significant contributions to California’s ocean and coastal leadership.

Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard presented the awards at a Sacramento reception during Ocean Day California on March 19. The award is part of the aquarium’s work to inspire and inform government decision-makers to take science-based action on behalf of the ocean.

“California has become a beacon of hope for the nation, and for the world,” Packard said. “Our state is living proof that environmental and economic health are inextricably linked.”

Three of the recipients were central to California’s response to the federal Administration’s proposal, in early 2018, to open the state's outer continental shelf to new oil and gas drilling. These honorees introduced bills that were enacted into law:

  • Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) introduced AB 1775, legislation to protect the California coast. The bill prohibits the State Lands Commission from approving new leases for pipelines or other infrastructure to support additional federal oil and gas development adjacent to state waters.
  • Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) was a joint author of AB 1775. She also introduced a resolution, which quickly passed with bipartisan support, affirming the Legislature’s unequivocal opposition to new offshore oil and gas development.
  • Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-San Barbara) introduced SB 834, the companion bill to AB 1775, which blocks new federal oil and gas development off the California coast.

The fourth honoree helped ensure passage of legislation to put California on the path to 100-percent fossil-fuel-free electricity, and defended the state’s ocean and coastal communities from the threat of new offshore oil and gas exploration and development. He also led the way to reduce a common source of plastic pollution in the ocean.                 

  • Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whitter) authored AB 1884, which made California the first state in the nation to adopt a “straws-on-request” policy, requiring full-service restaurants to provide plastic straws only to customers who ask for them. In his signing message, Governor Brown summed up the importance of AB 1884, writing: “It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.”

These legislators join past California Ocean Champion Award winners who have protected the state’s ocean and coast. California continues to demonstrate how a healthy environment and thriving economy go hand in hand due to their efforts.

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