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Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals are fun, fund-raising events to preserve our watersheds and promote direct action.



Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals is a series of one-week to ten-day maritime festivals taking place in major ports. We will have fun, games, and even gourmet food – all in the name of preserving and sustaining our watersheds and the ocean environment. We bring attention to marine protected areas, sustainable seafood, marine debris/plastics, watershed restoration, renewable energy, curbing climate change, innovation, and fostering positive change through collaboration.  We cooperate with and support local, regional, national and international environmental and marine non-profits, corporations, government agencies, educational institutions, individuals, and foundations in raising awareness in and funding for their causes – all in the name of improving our watersheds.  Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Festivals are scalable and can be held everywhere.

The festival is a circus designed to entertain and engage the general public.  Each fun, fund-raising event hosted by our partners is a sideshow. There is something for everyone.  Participants and festivalgoers can spectate, host events, or enter contests run under the festival’s umbrella. The festivals provide participating organizations the opportunity to show the public what they do. The festivals (circus) also offer a platform for our partner organizations to hold separate fund-raising events (sideshows) such a   sustainable seafood festival, cardboard boat race, short movie festival, tall ships festival, sailboat races of every kind ranging from kite boards to America’s Cup catamarans, galas, raffles, SUP parades, sand castle building contests, book signings, estuary and beach cleanups, solar boat races, ASUV competitions, and more.  A portion of all of the funds raised by every group hosting a fun, fund-raising event and the entire festival goes toward a regional direct action watershed restoration activities agreed upon by the area’s community.

What actions do you propose?

Direct Action

The hallmark of Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals is the commitment to take direct action to make a regional watershed more resilient and to improve the overall health of the marine environment.  Whether it be through regional polling, committee review of environmental studies, or through a contest, the direct action agenda item will be incorporated into the theme of the festival and its events to draw more attention to the issue, the consequences if left unaddressed, and contributing solutions to mitigate.

The festival can shed light on the status of the cleanup efforts and call attention to best practices and effective outreach efforts elsewhere. Short films showing youth efforts to boycott the use of single-use plastic bags or a lecture by Rozalia Project’s Rachael Miller are just a couple of ways to motivate Americans to rise to the occasion and recognize how their behavior directly contributes to the condition of their environment.

Each festival will draw attention to three major issues: Sustainable Seafood, Ocean Debris and Plastics, and Marine Protected Areas.

Sustainable Seafood

Covering more than 70% of our planet’s surface, our oceans sustain all life on earth, yet are not infinitely resilient.  Thriving ocean ecosystems are vital to the health of our entire planet, yet many of our fisheries are exploited, overexploited, or collapsed.  By highlighting sustainable seafood, as fish or shellfish that is caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term viability of harvested populations, the ocean’s health, and ecological integrity, we can draw attention to the need to better manage our resources, strive toward balanced ecosystems, and make more informed decisions.   In incorporating a sustainable seafood festival within the Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals we will increase public awareness and understanding of what sustainable seafood means and how to find it; and encourage everyone who eats seafood to choose wisely for the sake of ocean and their own health.

Aquaculture demonstrations; ocean-friendly seafood preparation demonstrations by renowned chefs; interactive panel discussions with Seafood Watch, Fishwatch, Seachoice, and other Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch partners, are among the activities that can be incorporated into the Sustainable Seafood Festival.

Ocean Debris and Plastics

Nearly half of the 300 million tons of plastic we produce every year is used once and thrown away.  Every year, billions of pounds of plastic end up in the world’s oceans.  It degrades, and it never goes away. Ocean plastics are projected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050, according to a study produced by and organization headed by past World Sailor of the Year, Dame Ellen McArthur. Plastics ingested by fish, seabirds, and marine mammals stunt growth, inhibit reproduction, and kill marine life.  Once plastic gets into the oceans, it harms the environment and ecosystems, damages coastal economies, and ultimately affects human health.

Movies, panel discussions, and sharing of success stories about banning single-use plastic bags, improving trash and storm water management, recycling, and promoting cleanups, and calling everybody to action to reduce their use of plastics and prevent plastics from entering our watersheds are among the presentation topics to be included in every Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festival.

We will work with local organizations and volunteers to be responsible and ensure that the festivals are Zero-Waste events and make sure that all waste is compostable or recyclable and that nothing goes to landfill.

Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are underwater parks that improve our oceans’ health by allowing fish to grow larger, stay healthier, and reach greater abundance and diversity.  Healthy fish then migrate to other parts of the ocean and replenish weaker populations.  The United States’ nearly 1,800 marine protected areas contain some of the country's most spectacular reefs, underwater archaeological sites, and most valuable commercial fisheries and tourist diving sites.  The number and area of Marine Protected Areas worldwide is growing as we place greater importance on conservation and preservation.

Panel discussions, visual presentations, introductions to new technologies, and the sharing of success stories and lessons learned will be part of every Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festival.

Maritime Festival

The docks, quays, and wharfs of port cities are where land and water interface and where landlubbers and our trash are introduced to the marine environment.  By activating and cleaning up this interface and what’s upstream, we will improve our watersheds and the health of our oceans.

Pirates, privateers, marine biologists, researchers, fishermen, sea captains, trawlers, sailors, tug and barge operators, harbormasters, and regulators have played and continue to play diverse and interesting roles in the ebb and flow of seafood, commerce, and pollutants.  These characters have tales to tell and lessons to teach.  By seeing, touching, smelling, getting in, and getting out on the water, people, many of whom have no affinity for the water, will gain an understanding of the water quality, the issues and conditions affecting their watersheds, and the fragile condition of the marine environment.

The Maritime Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals are a way to engage and inform the public by offering a diverse array of fun-filled activities for sailors and non-sailors alike.  While the on-the-water activities are the draw, the landside events are where most of our visitors will be engaged.

Maryland and Climate Action

In May 2016, University of Maryland co-sponsored Climate Action 2016: Catalyzing a Sustainable Future. The University of Maryland, World Bank, Global Environment Facility, the Compact for Mayors, Michael Bloomberg, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and We Mean Business events took place over a two-day period at UMD’s College Park Campus and in Washington, D.C.

Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival 2017 has the potential to be a cornerstone to UMD’s 2017 engagement plan to achieving a sustained path toward global climate implementation.  The University of Maryland, known as a central US hub in climate change policy is eager to embed the transformation agenda across the globe in government, key sectors and among the general population.  Opportunities abound for universities such as University of Maryland and M.I.T. to collaborate in advancing the agenda and connecting with the general population through events such as the Watershed Moments/Health Oceans Maritime Festival under consideration for Baltimore in 2017.

The Chesapeake Bay is our nation’s largest estuary.  More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay’s nearly 65,000 square-mile drainage basin, which covers parts of six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia in addition to the District of Columbia.  The Bay plays a crucial role in the ecology and economy of Maryland.  With over 600,000 residents, Baltimore City is the largest population center on the Chesapeake.

The Chesapeake Bay contains marine dead zones, where waters were so depleted of oxygen that they are unable to support life, resulting in massive fish kills and a weakening of the Bay’s food chain.  This condition robs the blue crab of a primary food source and depletes the population.  Likewise, the Bay’s oyster population, once able to filter the Bay once every 3.3 days, has been overharvested and decimated. 

The environmental network is alive and thriving.  It bears similarities to the Internet, the mycelium of mushroom colonies, and the dendrites and synapses of the nervous system.  These information-sharing networks are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind.

Over 40,000 environmental stewards descended on Paris for COP21 in 2015 where the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 2˚ Celsius was adopted.  As countries, businesses, cities, non-profits, investors, regions, trade unions, academic institutions, and individuals enact plans to ensure that the ambition set out by the Paris Agreement is met or exceeded, extensive partnership networks are being developed. 

Rather than have environmental groups compete for limited resources, the Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals can be the umbrella under which they all work toward a common goal and can cross promote their methods, research, and advancements in an educational and fun-filled environment.

Private and public schools and utility companies throughout the region will also be motivated to promote the festival as part of their educational and community outreach programs.  Over 870,000 students are enrolled in the Maryland public school system and the local utility company serves over 2.0 million customers. Their sponsorship will take multiple forms including outreach to everyone in their system.

By holding the first Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festival in Baltimore, we will take advantage of the amenities, transportation, and concentration of international, federal, and state players within the D.C. – Baltimore – Philadelphia – New York corridor. 

The Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership that leads and directs Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection, estimates 18,091,710 people lived in the Bay watershed in 2015, up from 17,986,898 in 2014. Experts predict the watershed’s population will surpass 20 million by 2030 and reach 21.4 million by 2040.  The Chesapeake Bay Program has many partnerships throughout the Bay’s watershed.  Included among them are: Chesapeake Research Consortium, Maryland Department of the Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Sea Grant, National Park Service (NPS), NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Chesapeake Research Consortium, Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, West Virginia Conservation Agency, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment, NOAA, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, etc.  Each of these organizations already has networking, outreach, social media, and action platforms and plans.  No doubt, if they are introduced to a vehicle to showcase their activities and goals and one that gives them the opportunity to make money while drawing attention to their cause, they will help us promote the contests, and the fun, fund-raising activities associated with the festival.

Our “recipe book” will be designed to facilitate global participation, and raise global awareness about climate change and environmentally friendly practices.  The Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals can become the template for the celebration of World Oceans Day and stimulate its growth and participation.

No doubt the festival will capture the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Corridor’s media attention and inspire other communities to spring into action to host a similar festival and similar contests.

Who will take these actions?

The State Department will host the 3rd annual Our Oceans conference in September 2016.  The State Department seeks deliverables and direct action.  Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals are a prime example of exposing, engaging, and enlightening the general public.  Rather than key actors at the top of the pyramid continue to leave an enormous carbon footprint by jetting all over the world to conferences and fund more conferences, studies, and films, this format takes a top down and bottom up approach.  It produces a way to spoon feed the public valuable information and approaches to reducing their carbon footprints and adopting more sustainable practices that will benefit the overall environment.

Government must facilitate the permitting for the festival(s) by endorsing them.  Numerous government agencies and programs can display their work and research at the festival(s).  Their interactive and fun displays can be part of every festival format.

The non-profit sector should jump at the opportunity to participate in a big event that will give non-profit groups marketing and media attention that they could never leverage on their own.

Cities and businesses located in the region should jump at the opportunity to sponsor the event, receive great PR, generate economic impact, awaken the public, and finally start implementing sound, constituent-back, sustainability and environmental clean-up efforts.

Where will these actions be taken?

While the theme lends itself to port cities, it is not necessary for every Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festival to be held on a lake, river, bay, sea, or ocean. Because the oceans are so vital to life on earth, we could celebrate our watersheds and oceans on a Himalayan peak or in a desert oasis.  The docks, quays, and wharfs of port cities are where land and water interface and where landlubbers and our trash are introduced to the marine environment. By activating and cleaning up this interface and what’s upstream, we will improve our watersheds and the health of our oceans.

Our potpourri of events will be cataloged so that future festival event hosts in other locales will not have to start from scratch in developing their fun, fund-raising events.  Our “recipe book” will be designed to facilitate global participation, and raise global awareness about climate change and environmentally friendly practices.  The Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Maritime Festivals can become the template for the celebration of World Oceans Day and stimulate its growth and participation.

No doubt the festival will capture the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Corridor’s media attention and inspire other communities to spring into action to host a similar festival and similar contests.

Multiple events throughout the week leading up to the feature event will enable the teams, management and sponsors the opportunity to engage the public as guest attendees, speakers, hosts, educators, and entertainers.  There will be ample opportunities for radio, television, newspaper, Internet and other media recording and broadcasting. 

The series of events offers a fantastic opportunity for local, county, state and federal politicians to showcase their concern for the environment, economy, economic development and job creation.


How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?

These festivals are designed to draw as many people as possible.  They take place over a week to 10-day period.  Some of the signature events within the festivals already have a following.  The festivals will generate significant media attention.  The exposure will generate attendees.  The attendees will learn while having fun, which is the best way to learn. 

The direct action effort with garner a lot of attention while the regional community is deciding on the direct action, implementing it, and discussing the follow-on. 

Novel concepts like this that are brought to the general public will create media attention. 

Schools and households can implement practices learned from the festivals.

We have to get the masses to participate so that we can achieve the climate action goals agreed upon at COP21.  These festivals can go a long way toward doing that.

What are other key benefits?

  • Champion sustainability efforts and programs throughout the region, state and country including those of the State Department, Department of Natural Resources, the UN, Surfrider, Oceana, Ocean Blue, Greenpeace, etc.;
  • Enhance the participating organizations’ programs by introducing the program, speakers and events to a critical and environmentally sensitive area in a densely populated area along the Atlantic coast;
  • Penetrate an 18 million person media market;
  • Serve as a catalyst for bay, ocean, and National Park conservancy efforts throughout the US;
  • Generate goodwill, fun and economic development;
  • Set a precedent for festivals promoting and financially enabling direct action sustainability efforts and cooperation among public, private, academic, and non-profits;
  • Expose the public to a serious situation and cajole them into learning while having fun and taking ownership of a variety of environmental sound practices including the festival-sponsored direct action effort.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The inaugural Watershed Moments/Healthy Oceans Festival will take place in Baltimore.  It will be on the scale of the Star Spangled events that generated $100 million of direct economic impact and $60 million in induced economic impact.  The events cost approximately $5 million in direct funding and approximately $2 million in police, fire, waste management, and other municipal service preparation and overtime.

Every attempt will be made for these to be zero waste festivals.

The economic impact gets reinvested into the community. 

The social impact is great.

The sooner we begin hosting these festivals around the country and the world, the better.  The longer we don't take action the more we have to overcome.  The negative side effects result from delay.

Time line

Inaugural Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival Makes Waves

(May 10, 2017, Baltimore, MD) - Twelve-year old Brendan Marin hit the bull’s eye and sent former Vice President Al Gore tumbling into the icy cold waters of the Baltimore Harbor Commission’s dunking booth during the final event of the First Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Maritime Festival. 

“If that’s not a wake up call, I don’t know what is,” joked Gore as he climbed out of the dunking booth. Gore was among the many celebrities participating in the climatic grand finale of the 9-day, multi-event festival celebrated in Baltimore and throughout the Chesapeake watershed this past week. The festival engaged coastal communities and organizations of all sizes in fun-filled activities of their own design, all with the goal of raising awareness of the necessity to create sustainable solutions to preserving and restoring their collective waters of the Chesapeake watershed. 

By winning last weekend’s MIT DC-sponsored Solar Cup in his catamaran powered by solar panels, Marin became a finalist in the 1st Annual Sustainability Cup Superstar Challenge.  Marin, a Bethesda native, heard about the Solar Cup and the festival through his MIT DC STEM mentor during his Sea Perch robotics STEM class.

Throngs of media were on hand throughout the week to help raise awareness for the cause.  At last night’s Kelp the Ocean Ball held at the National Aquarium.  Commented Gaylord Nelson, Jr., son of the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, whose 1970 legislation created Earth Day, “Who would have thought that nearly half a century after the first Earth Day we would be bringing such attention to our oceans?  It seems like such an obvious solution to drawing attention to the serious problems that plague the planet’s greatest natural resource.  I hope that Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festival’s format spreads like wildfire. Watershed Moments, Healthy Oceans Festivals may be our last hope to reach the masses and do something.”

Related proposals

No other proposals are related to this one.


Our Ocean, One Future Concept Paper Secretary Kerry will host the third Our Ocean conference in Washington DC on September 15-16, 2016, focusing again on the key ocean issues of our time –marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts on the ocean.The overarching objective of the conference will be to inspire and empower a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and civil society to identify solutions and commit to actions to protect and conserve our ocean and its resources. As with the previous Our Ocean conferences, the 2016 conference will be a visually engaging, inspiring, and interactive event with an unwavering emphasis on commitments for action by participants and other stakeholders around the globe. We anticipate about 450 participants at the 2-day event,including foreign ministers, environment and fisheries ministers,and other established and up-and-coming ocean leaders in government, science, industry, and civil society. Young and cutting-edge innovators and entrepreneurs will share the stage with well-known global leaders in ocean conservation.The Our Ocean conferences in Washington (2014) and Chile (2015) created a tremendous wave of commitments on marine conservation,measured in billions of dollars and millions of square kilometers of the ocean protected–about twice the size of India. With their focus on high level engagement, partnership, and action, these conferences set a new standard for success,while complementing other international efforts addressing threats to our ocean such as the ocean sustainable development goal. Implementation of the commitments made at the previous Our Ocean conferences will be the true test of their legacy. Therefore, tracking their progress and celebrating their completion will be a key part of the nextconference.The hallmark of the 2016 Our Ocean conference will again be new commitments for significant and meaningful action to protect the ocean –along with announcements on successful implementation of previous Our Ocean commitments–with a particular focus on the role of technological innovation and entrepreneurship in ocean conservation and sustainable use.Partnerships will be sought with relevant industries, such as fisheries, technologists, plastics producers, waste management companies, major retailers,and major producers, as well as with multilateral development banks and committed civil society stakeholders, including philanthropies, NGOs, academia, and the faith-based community.Side events, entertainment, social media, and education outreach will be used to involve more stakeholders, especially youth,and to expand the reach of the conference. A parallel side event at Georgetown University will focus on youth and student engagement in ocean policy and advocacy.As the Our Ocean conferences have demonstrated over the past two years, the global community acknowledges the dire threats facing our ocean and is ready to take action.