The Ocean Lover’s Guide to Contacting Your Elected Officials

The last couple months have been a political and emotional cyclone. I, and I am sure many of you, have too frequently found ourselves enduring the spectrum of reactions from anger to fear to despair. What will become of our jobs? Our science? Our environment? Though I can’t predict the future, I do believe the answers to these questions are firmly dependent on what we do RIGHT NOW.

Thus, I am enacting #8 of our Core Values here at Deep Sea News. “Call to Action. We believe that an open dialogue is just the first step, and seek to turn words into action.” We have done lots of talking, but now is the time to start the doing. My friends, the ocean can’t speak for itself on the congress floor, so here are 5 easy ways you can give the oceans a voice.

1) Make it Easy. Make it Fun. Do it Together.

If you don’t make it easy and fun for yourself, you won’t do it. Start by setting aside 1 hour a week to do your civic duties whether that be writing letters, calling your reps, or just making yourself aware of the issues. Use this POCKET GUIDE to keep track of the points you are passionate about and your elected officials contact info. Make it fun by thinking of innovative ways to get your representatives attention or decorating your post cards. Creativity is key to sending a memorable message. Join a group of friends* to hold yourself accountable in contacting your representatives and to open larger discussions about the issues.

*Friends+Wine=Extra Fun

2) Tell Your Ocean Story.

Members of Congress and other elected officials need real life stories to tell to make their case against a policy or budget. Share your stories with them in ways that will grab their attention. Maybe through a video or a photo or artwork. The ocean is a beautiful place, perhaps you send them 50 cards- one with a portion of a larger mural they can staple up in the office. Again I reiterate BE CREATIVE. Use the power of social media to your advantage. Remember Congress goes into recess soon and it’s good to go to your Town Hall meetings prepared.

3) #OurEPA

Join the 500 Women Scientists in their support of the Environmental Protection Agency through the #OurEPA campaign. Send postcards to EPA offices to thank them, but also to Congress to enforce the importance of the EPA and what they do. Find out how here.

If you are a lady scientist, might I even suggest starting or joining a 500WSPod in your area? Or if you have some extra time in your 1 hour a week of civic duties, check out this and this.

4) NOAA

Just in case you were unaware….the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association helps you do you everyday. In the proposed budget, NOAA doesn’t fair too well. You NEED them and right now they NEED you too. Call your reps with the following or put it on a billboard outside their offices. We can’t reiterate this enough….here it is one more time thanks to @southernfriedscience:

“Hello,

 My name is [NAME] and I am a constituent of [CONGRESSPERSON/SENATOR].

I’m calling to ask [CONGRESSPERSON/SENATOR] to oppose any reduction in the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA provides essential services to the American people, including weather services, coastal resilience, hurricane monitoring, and fisheries management. Programs like SeaGrant are the lifeblood of coastal communities, providing education, job training, and research grants to fund local development. NOAA’s Hurricane Center is critical for tracking hurricanes. One-third of the US economy relies upon services provided by NOAA. Any reduction in NOAA’s budget would be catastrophic to the United States’ coastal economy.

Thank you.

 **If your livelihood depends on NOAA, consider adding “I am a [FISHERMAN/BUSINESS OWNER/AQUACULTURIST/ETC] in [CONGRESSPERSON/SENATOR]’s district and my livelihood and family depend on the services that NOAA provides.”

If you are feeling extra feisty and passionate, might I recommend sending this same letter to every member of the appropriations committee? Here and Here.

5) #IAmSeagrant

Recently, our own Jarrett Byrnes put a call out for stories from people influenced by the Sea Grant program. This is an excellent way to amplify your message. Additionally, SeaGrant has put out some great letter templates for public use along with fact sheets to send in with your letters. The Sea Grant program “works hard to connect science to communities and address local priorities in water quality, marine ecosystems, STEM education, coastal resiliency, maritime transportation, and much more.”

Sea Grant is completely on the budget chopping block. Many, many people will loose their jobs. Critical research will cease and numerous students and professionals could face significant if not detrimental career set backs. The time to act is now.

BONUS: Choose Your Own Adventure

What have we missed regarding taking action for ocean issues in the current political climate? What innovative ways have you discovered to make your voice heard? Consider this a running document and add your ideas in the comments below. Note our commenting policy. We look forward to the continued dialogue and inspired action.

Find your Members of Congress and Senators by going online to:

House of Representatives and search by your ZIP code

U.S. Senate search by your state

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