Ocean Science Policy: A Youth Perspective

Aislinn Clark, Heirs To Our Oceans, Redwood City, United States
Ocean science on its own cannot create change. To have an impact on the crisis our oceans currently face, we need to work together to form policies at the local, state, national and international level that will bring about positive changes for our marine environment and the humans it supports.

Three years ago, at age 10, I helped launch an organization called Heirs To Our Oceans (www.heirstoouroceans.org), because my generation can’t wait until we’re in our 20s, 30s, and 40s to start tackling these problems. We need solutions now, so we must be active now.

As an Heir, I have focused my research on ocean legislation and policy and have dedicated myself to not just raising awareness about the the ocean crisis but to helping solve it. I have traveled to Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to urge lawmakers to adopt ocean-protecting laws; sought and found mentors among the California Ocean Protection Council staff; and am now pursuing, along with my fellow Heir, Dakota Peebler, an initiative to reduce and eventually eliminate harmful nutrient runoff (mostly from chemical fertilizers) into sensitive marine ecosystems and even into Marine Protected Areas, which are only really protected from fishing and extractive practices. Through these efforts, I have come to understand that policy isn’t just about making a new law or regulation, it’s about working with all of the stakeholders to ensure an effective, lasting solution.

At Heirs To Our Oceans, I have also been learning about and practicing empathetic leadership skills and connecting with youth from around the world, because collaboration and cooperation are essential for solving the problems facing the one ocean we all share.