The urchins, sea stars and oystercatchers at northern California’s Fitzgerald Marine Reserve have delighted visitors for over 40 years, introducing generations of school kids to the wonders of the sea. Anglers have been plying the surrounding waters for decades, making seafood and fishing part of the locals’ DNA. Thanks to a historic effort that brought conservationists, fishermen, tribal leaders, business owners and scientists together, California now has a whole system of underwater parks like the one at Fitzgerald. These marine reserves were designed by ocean users to sustain the resources its fishing and tourism industries depend on. Resource Media helped these people tell their story, and built support for the coalition that secured approval for the nation’s first statewide network of marine protected areas.
- Developed an underwater parks messaging platform that tapped into shared public values and set the tune for public discussion.
- Built and managed a Facebook page with 60,000 fans, and a Twitter stream with 3,500 followers, providing real time news to journalists, elected officials and business leaders across California.
- Trained diverse spokespeople, including business leaders, scientists, fishermen, teachers and divers to be effective and comfortable when speaking out in favor of marine reserves.
- Helped locals earn more than 100 news stories, editorials and opinion pieces highlighting the economic, environmental and social benefits of marine protection.
- Continually tracked media coverage, to help the campaign instantly respond to emerging conversations about marine reserves, while also conducting annual media audits and analyses, to keep track of the bigger picture.
California now has America’s largest network of marine protected areas, for present and future generations of the Golden State to enjoy. Perhaps even more importantly, tens of thousands of citizens now have a greater understanding of the importance ocean conservation. Many remain engaged as citizen scientists or volunteer docents. Fishermen are partnering with university researchers to track lobster populations in San Diego, and school kids are monitoring Bay Area beaches. This growing network of ocean stewards will help keep California’s famous ocean and beaches healthy for generations to come.