During the United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP28), the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled the first-ever U.S. Ocean Justice Strategy to advance environmental justice for communities that rely on the ocean and Great Lakes for economic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, and food security purposes.

For the first time, the federal government is outlining how it will integrate principles of equity and environmental justice in federal ocean activities, including conservation, management of marine resources, and infrastructure projects. The U.S. Ocean Justice Strategy, called for in the Administration’s Ocean Climate Action Plan, reflects President Biden’s strong commitment to environmental justice for all, including the people of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.

Leaders from across the country praised the announcement. Here’s what they’re saying:

Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder and Executive Director, Azul and Ocean Justice Forum Steering Committee Member: “The release of the Ocean Justice Strategy recognizes decades of work by ocean advocates while incorporating many priorities identified by frontline and ocean justice communities. Our ocean is the lifeblood of our planet – we must protect it to realize environmental justice, heal our waters and communities, and the sustenance and joy our ocean provides. Azul has been on the frontlines of advocating for the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize our ocean. With this Ocean Justice Strategy, we see a strong foundation that will serve as the building blocks to addressing the issues plaguing our ocean and the communities that depend on it – as well as advancing a just 30×30 strategy and global plastics treaty” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Jean Flemma, Co-Founders, Urban Ocean Lab and Ocean Justice Forum Steering Committee Members: “The ocean justice strategy makes clear the need for ALL federal agencies to take an equitable and just approach to ocean policy in their decision-making to ensure they are protecting the ocean and the benefits it provides for all while also alleviating the disproportionate burdens placed on ocean justice communities by past decisions. It is incumbent on those agencies to make these policies a reality.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Dune Lankard, President and Founder, Native Conservancy: “Our coastal Native communities depend on the ocean and the economic, spiritual and cultural benefits it provides. The White House Ocean Justice Strategy commits to ensuring that ocean policy across the federal government is equitable, effective, and informed by traditional, local and Indigenous knowledge. We will look toward their future actions to ensure that commitment becomes a reality.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Joel Johnson, CEO, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation: “The Blue Economy should be open to everyone. A healthy ocean is a right and key to protecting nature and people. The National Ocean Justice Strategy, created by and with the people who will benefit from environmental justice, should forever guide how we make marine protected areas. The National Ocean Justice Strategy elevates the multi-use nature of our ocean and great lakes so disenfranchised people’s history and culture, as well as their economic opportunity, is better protected.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Linda Behnken, Executive Director, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association: “The Ocean Justice Strategy centers policy around those who depend on oceans for their livelihood and way of life.  Our small scale fishing families look forward to working with the Biden Administration to implement ocean conservation strategies that promote resource and community health through place-based stewardship.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power & Light: “People of faith and conscience believe that we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of Creation and to stand on the side of justice for all. We applaud the adoption of the ocean justice strategy, which makes clear the steps that must be taken in order to protect the sacred oceans and the communities that depend on them.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Andres Jimenez, Executive Director, Green 2.0: “Ensuring the most impacted communities are leading the charge in policy development is a critical component to protecting our ocean. The only way that can happen is through a deliberate effort to ensure that these communities and young people are a key part of this strategy. For the first time, the Ocean Justice Strategy makes this a priority, with a mission to develop a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible federal ocean workforce.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Ebony Martin, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA: “President Biden’s Ocean Justice Strategy provides marching orders for his administration to step up efforts to ensure our seafood is not tainted with slave labor, and to work for a Global Plastics Treaty that reduces plastic production. We will be working to make sure the Strategy translates into action.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Avery Davis Lamb and Karyn Bigelow, Co-Executive Directors, Creation Justice Ministries: “The release of the first White House Ocean Justice Strategy signals respect and care not only for God’s marine creation, but for those who have both stewarded this creation and been excluded from it. We appreciate the hard work the administration has put into forming a strategy to ensure a just and equitable approach to conserving the ocean, coasts and Great Lakes.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Jessica Howell-Edwards, Executive Director & Dani Purvis, Research Lead, Wild Cumberland: “I greatly appreciate the Biden Administration’s Ocean Justice Strategy focusing on equity and justice for the frontline communities – terrestrial or aquatic – that are most reliant on and protective of the ocean and coastlines. Meaningful community and stakeholder engagement, a more diverse federal workforce, and greater investment in research and education are vital to developing creative, evidence-based, high-value, and just ocean conservation strategies. Thank you for listening to the will of the people to center justice in ocean management!” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Dr. Lance Morgan, President, Marine Conservation Institute: “Marine Conservation Institute supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s first ever Ocean Justice Strategy released this week in Dubai. Equity and justice are integral to effective marine conservation. All people and communities, particularly those that have been historically but also contemporarily marginalized, are essential to our mission of protecting the ocean for those of us on the planet now, and for future generations. We hope the Ocean Justice Strategy contributes to a future in which our thriving biodiverse ocean benefits a diverse human population that is fully involved in and committed to marine conservation.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Maraki Tamrat, Council Member, EarthEcho International Youth Leadership: “Young people across the world are championing justice as essential to progress on ocean restoration. The White House Ocean Justice Strategy signals the necessary commitment to build an equitable and sustainable future that heals our ocean and all life connected by it. This is the future that young people are working to achieve – as reinforced by the many youth voices speaking up this week in Dubai at COP 28.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Beth Lowell, Vice President for the United States, Oceana: “It is often the most vulnerable communities that suffer the greatest impacts from climate change. We celebrate the Biden administration’s commitment to ensure that these voices are heard in future government decisions, and we expect them to act on these goals. Offshore drilling, fisheries management, and reducing plastic pollution are just a few of the areas where these voices and more action are desperately needed.”  [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Brad Sewell, Senior Director, Oceans, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “The communities most vulnerable to sea level rise, increasingly intense storms, and health effects from port pollution and petrochemical development should not shoulder the burden of the climate crisis. This strategy lays out the framework for agency engagement to ensure forward-thinking and equity-based policies on the future of ocean conservation and usage. Ocean justice is not just about what we do, it’s how we do it and this strategy moves us towards a future where justice is centered.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Angelo Villagomez, Senior Fellow, Conservation, Center for American Progress: “This strategy is a historic opportunity to center the voices and needs of communities that depend on the ocean, the coasts, and the Great Lakes for their safety, health, and prosperity. The Ocean Justice Strategy will ensure that ocean conservation and management in our country is informed by Indigenous knowledge and values, and that it advances equitable and just practices.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Kristin Butler, Legislative Representative, Earthjustice: “For the first time, we are seeing the U.S. government acknowledge that we need to center the voices of the coastal communities most impacted by climate change, declining ocean health, and the negative health impacts of industrialization and development. The Ocean Justice Strategy marks a transition towards prioritizing these voices, which often have been systemically excluded from power and under-resourced, across U.S. federal governance. But ocean justice communities, including many of our partners across the country and territories, have been fighting for equity in our oceans for generations. They deserve to see this strategy implemented.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Laura Johnson, Youth Program Supervisor, The Ocean Project | World Ocean Day: “Ocean justice is critical. The sustainable future we are all fighting so ardently for is simply not possible without it. We need to ensure that those who are the most affected by the impacts of the climate crisis are not bearing this burden alone. In addition, recognizing that the consequences of our actions today will significantly impact future generations is crucial in involving young voices in shaping the solutions. After years of persistent efforts, youth inclusion in high-level decision-making is finally improving, and we thank the Biden-Harris Administration for this encouraging development. Harnessing the power of youth for a sustainable future is not only strategic, but morally imperative.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Helen Smith, Policy Advocate, Ocean Workgroup Co-lead, Creation Justice Ministries: “The release of the first White House Ocean Justice Strategy is a necessary step forward in our collective efforts to ensure that ocean, coasts and Great Lakes conservation and stewardship is equitable going forward, especially for the Indigenous people who’ve cared for God’s waters for millenia and those who’ve been systematically kept from enjoying God’s marine creation.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Pete Stauffer, Ocean Protection Manager, Surfrider Foundation: “The Ocean Justice Strategy is an essential step to ensuring that the benefits of a healthy ocean and coast are accessible to all communities. The strategy’s success will depend on the meaningful engagement of all communities and recognition of Indigenous knowledge and rights. Success will also depend on strong federal action to address fossil fuel development, climate change, plastic pollution, water pollution and other threats that disproportionately harm lower-income and communities of color.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Friends of the Mariana Trench: “The Friends of the Mariana Trench welcome and support the White House Ocean Justice Strategy, which aims to ensure equitable access, management, and use of the ocean for all people. We believe that this strategy will benefit the people of the Mariana Islands, who have a deep connection to the ocean and its resources.  The Ocean Justice Strategy will help protect and restore the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, which is home to unique and diverse ecosystems and species.  It will also promote the recognition and inclusion of our Indigenous cultures and knowledge in ocean decision-making and research.  We look forward to working with the federal government and other partners to implement this strategy and achieve ocean justice for our islands and our people.” [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Jenna Valente, Director of Advocacy, Healthy Ocean Coalition: “The Healthy Ocean Coalition is heartened by the release of the nation’s first-ever Ocean Justice Strategy. By prioritizing justice and equity, this initiative acknowledges the disproportionate impact of human-caused climate change on the most vulnerable communities, and emphasizes the dire need for inclusive, locally led, and sustainable solutions. We’re looking forward to working alongside our partners in this work and the Biden Administration to ensure this strategy moves off the page and is implemented mindfully. We thank the Biden Administration for taking this crucial step forward in addressing the pressing challenges we face in achieving ocean climate justice.”  [Statement, 12/13/2023]

Julie Packard, Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium: “Bravo to the Biden-Harris administration for leading the creation of the ocean justice strategy. For the ocean to flourish, the federal government and all of us who work to restore and protect our ocean need people to thrive in a just and equitable world. We can achieve lasting solutions to ocean health challenges only when communities drive solutions and when policies and laws are shaped by diverse and inclusive participation and leadership. The new ocean justice strategy is an important step.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Susette Tibus, President & CEO, Mystic Aquarium: “We applaud the release of the Ocean Justice Strategy and its recognition of the unique role that aquariums play in shaping the work and moving from strategy to action. This is a historic step towards centering equity in ocean management and policy, but it is just the beginning. As a leading research and education institution, we will continue to convene, listen to, and amplify the voices of historically excluded people. As a trusted community anchor, Mystic Aquarium will continue to work with our indigenous peoples and underserved communities to provide access and STEM education opportunities for all.” [Statement, 12/11/2023]

Robert W. Davidson, President & CEO, Seattle Aquarium: “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration in their efforts to create the Ocean Justice Strategy, centering equity and calling on all of us who work in this space to do the same. The Seattle Aquarium’s work to inspire marine conservation is a collaborative effort with the communities who visit us, and with whom we live and work. Together, we can act for our ocean, to ensure a resilient and just future for marine and human communities alike.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Crislyn McKerron, Executive Director, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium: “Real change requires community involvement and inclusivity. Thank you to the Biden-Harris Administration for providing a forum so that we may continue to advocate for our oceans in an inclusive manner through the Ocean Justice Strategy. It is critical to capture all the voices that care, love, and depend on our oceans and freshwater ecosystems.” [Statement, 12/11/2023]

Kim McIntyre, Executive Director, Aquarium Conservation Partnership: “The Aquarium Conservation Partnership and our member aquariums and zoos are committed to elevating and centering the voices and participation of Indigenous and historically excluded communities in conservation, and we look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure implementation and advancement of the Ocean Justice Strategy.” [Statement, 12/11/2023]

Dr. Bridget C. Coughlin, President and CEO, John G. Shedd Aquarium: “For conservation to be truly successful, it must be intersectional. Historically, not everyone has had a seat at the table where solutions are developed and decisions are made on how to manage important marine resources.  This blue planet serves as a source of nutrition, a way of life, a means of recreation and a place of cultural and spiritual importance for millions. Shedd Aquarium applauds the development of the Ocean Justice Strategy for putting front and center the voices of our most vulnerable communities.  Now we have a road map to truly prioritize equity in the Ocean Climate Action Plan in stewarding and safeguarding of aquatic species along the ocean and Great Lake shorelines.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Jason Patlis, President and CEO, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk: “Just as we tend to take the ocean for granted and often fail to recognize how our society, economy, identity, and our very existence all depend on the ocean, we also take for granted issues relating to equity, access, engagement, and justice across all communities and individuals.  The Ocean Justice Strategy succeeds in elevating and combining these two priorities for a stronger society and a healthier ocean, which are inextricably linked to each other.” [Statement, 12/08/2023]

Jennifer Driban, Chief Mission Officer, National Aquarium: “We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration on establishing the nation’s first Ocean Justice Strategy. It is informed by broad public input and makes clear that every federal agency is responsible for contributing to ocean justice. Meaningful and equitable engagement by all communities in ocean decision-making is critically necessary now more than ever on this ocean planet we all share.” [Statement, 12/11/2023]

Stay Connected

Sign Up

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Opt in to send and receive text messages from President Biden.

Scroll to Top Scroll to Top