Long Beach Aquarium Joins Major Movement to Address, Prevent Plastic Pollution

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Alongside 18 other aquariums across the United States, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has joined a new Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) to address the threat of plastic pollution to ocean and freshwater animals, it was announced.

ACP’s nationwide consumer campaign, called “In Our Hands”, aims to drive a shift away from single-use plastic among the aquariums’ visitors, their communities and beyond.

“The Aquarium of the Pacific is a trusted source of science-based information on the ocean and environment in our region,” Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO, said in a statement. “It is our aim to provide our visitors with practical things they can do as ocean stewards in their communities. We are proud to be joining with aquariums across the country to promote ocean conservation.”

Through the campaign, the ACP hopes to empower their 20 million visitors and the millions more in their communities to drive a national movement away from single-use plastic and toward alternatives.

“The public trusts aquariums to do what’s right for the health of the ocean and for ocean wildlife,” Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said in a statement. “We’re just beginning to understand the full impacts of ocean plastic pollution on ecosystems, marine life, and human health. But we already know enough to say that now is the time to act.”

As of July 10, all ACP members have removed plastic straws and single-use plastic take-away bags from their institutions. The aquariums have also committed to significantly reducing or eliminating plastic beverage bottles by December 2020 and showcasing innovative alternatives to single-use plastic in their facilities, according to the release.

“As leaders in aquatic conservation, aquariums are expected to walk their talk, and that’s exactly what this partnership is meant to do,” National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli said in a statement. “We are uniquely qualified to set an example for others—in reducing our plastic footprint, encouraging sustainable operating practices, and inspiring hope in a public that is hungry to be part of the solution. We’re right where we should be.”

Approximately 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year worldwide, while about 22 million pounds of plastic flows into the Great Lakes each year. In the United States, plastic waste averages more than 200 pounds per person per year. If pollution stays the same, the flow of plastic into the ocean is expected to double by 2025, according to the ACP.

“[…]in Lake Michigan alone, it is equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with bottles,” Shedd Aquarium president and CEO Dr. Bridget Coughlin said in a statement. “Small actions can turn into big solutions, and we believe the 24 million people in the United States who rely on this beautiful, massive resource for their drinking water, jobs, and livelihoods want to be part of that wave of change. We look forward to working together in these commitments.”

The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is a collaboration of 19 AZA-accredited public aquariums across North America committed to advancing conservation and advocacy of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers through public action, business leadership and policy changes aimed at addressing major threats to aquatic environments.

Learn more about the Aquarium of the Pacific’s participation in the ACP here.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist. She was recently awarded first place in writing by the California News Publisher Association for her profile on local artist Narsiso Martinez.