Fresh & Salt Water Issues




Colorado Watershed – we are all connected

What does it mean to live on the “Continental Divide”? What role do watersheds play on the water we drink locally and the ocean’s health around the world?
The Continental Divide is the largest division of watersheds in the United States. On the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, the South Platte River and the Arkansas River, are part of an extensive network of waterways that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Likewise, the Colorado River, the largest watershed in the American Southwest, connects the western slope of the Continental Divide to the Gulf of California.

John Armor – How the Inland Movement Partners to Protect Oceans from Colorado Ocean Coalition on Vimeo.
John Armor, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, speaks on how special places inspire action and how and why inland communities can protect the Ocean.


90% of Ocean Trash is Plastic.

One of the most serious threats to the Earth is plastic pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use more than 380 billion plastic bags each year, which takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce. In addition, less than 40% of plastic products are recycled in the USA, and less than 5% of plastics are recycled worldwide. Beaches throughout the world are strewn with plastic and about 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile are floating throughout the ocean.

Stephanie Tobor – Alternatives to Living with Plastics from Colorado Ocean Coalition on Vimeo.
Stephanie Tobor, founder of Green Apple Supply, speaks on alternatives to plastics in our lives. At making Waves 2013, Boulder, Colorado.


Ocean Acidification

When we spew carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air by burning fossil fuels, it effects our planet. Excess CO2 slowly breaks down the stability of our atmosphere, causing air pollution and a toxic ocean environment. CO2 lowers the ocean pH, making it more acidic and less hospitable to life. Many of the everyday things we do cause this release of CO2 which leads to the deleterious effects we are dealing with today and in the future.

Joan A Kleypas: Coral Reefs from Colorado Ocean Coalition on Vimeo.


Sustainable Seafood: Fish for the Future

The Ocean serves many purposes. It regulates our climate, provides us with recreational opportunities, is the major source of the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat. However, our oceans are in serious trouble. The global catch of wild fish leveled out 15 years ago and a majority of the world’s fisheries are either declining or being harvested at capacity. Demand for fish is also increasing and it is now over seven times what it was in 1950.
There are a variety of destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling and long lining that are devastating the marine environment. Our oceans are being fished at alarming rates and scientists estimate that most of the world’s major fishery species have been reduced in numbers by about 80 percent. We as consumers can make a difference by choosing seafood that has been sustainably harvested. Our seafood choices offer a daily opportunity to contribute to the oceans health.

Richard Boot – Sustainable Seafood from Colorado Ocean Coalition on Vimeo.
Richard Boot, President and Founder of Fish Choice, speaks on sustainable seafood at Making Waves 2013 in boulder, CO.


What are MPA’s?

Marine Protected Areas

The creation of MPAs in the oceans may be the single most important step we can take to protect what we all need to survive – a healthy ocean environment.

A Marine Protected Area is a place in the ocean where human activities are strictly regulated. The sizes can vary from a few hundred yards to thousands of miles. MPAs can take many forms, from closed areas, locally managed MPAs, harvest refugia, to multiple-use areas and biosphere reserves. The types of restrictions vary from marine “no take” reserves (no fishing or extraction of any kind) to limited commercial and recreational activities like those found in a National Marine Sanctuary.
Less than one percent of the ocean is protected as a MPA. Worldwide, there are over 161,000 protected areas on land (as of October 2010), representing about 12 percent of the world’s land surface area. By contrast, only about 2 percent of the world’s oceans are protected. There are approximately 6,800 Marine Protected Areas in the ocean, but only half of those are classified as “no take” marine reserves, completely closed to fishing and other extractive activity. Most of the MPA’s in the world are “paper parks” with little restriction and enforcement.
Depending on where MPAs are established, the authority for managing and monitoring can be local, state, community, territorial, or national. Given the limited number of sanctuaries and limited protection, most sanctuaries continue to be stressed from extensive use. There is an urgent need for a greater number and expansion to our sanctuaries.


What are National Marine Sanctuaries?

The waters around the United States are home to 14 National Marine Sanctuaries totaling more than 170,000 square miles of protected area. The sanctuaries, which are designated and protected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are areas of limited commercial and recreational activities that hold a variety of values to the local communities. The program aims to preserve areas of extraordinary beauty, biodiversity, and economic or historic value for generations to come.
Clouds of reef fish and corals, French frigate shoals, NWHI
Now, for the first time in two decades, NOAA is opening the door for communities to nominate their own special places to become National Marine Sanctuaries. Essentially, a community can submit a nomination for a sanctuary area to NOAA, who then reviews, considers, and potentially accepts the nomination. This proposition has received widespread support from the public, and could pave the way for a new era of ocean conservation.


What are Microplastics?


Microplastics are small plastic particles that will persist in the environment indefinitely. Typically they are between 1 mm (the size of a ball point pen tip), and 5 mm (+/- the size of an eraser on a pencil).

Primary Microplastics
These plastics are intentionally manufactured to be microscopic in size, and are referred to as “microbeads”. They are used in a variety of ways including: as cleansing or exfoliating agents in personal care products (cosmetics, soaps, toothpaste), in medicine, and by industry. Plastic microbeads (including the majority of biodegradable microbeads) do not dissolve in cold water. Most wastewater treatment plants do not remove them.(1) Once rinsed down the drain microplastics end up in rivers, lakes and oceans for decades or longer. Microplastics are used for:

Cosmetic exfoliating agents: Plastic microbead ‘‘scrubs’’ replace traditionally used natural ingredients such as ground almonds, rice, oat-meal and pumice. They add color, texture and filler to products.

Medical and industrial applications: Microbeads are used beyond cosmetics and research indicates that their impacts to the environment are not well documented.

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