News Coverage

11 October 2023

NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY FOUNDATION: The Importance of Ocean Conservation for our Hispanic Communities

Category: News Coverage

Hispanic Access Foundation’s conservation programs bring Latino voices to the forefront of conservation and climate policy and stewardship. We activate Latino leaders and provide them the resources they need to create a more sustainable and equitable future. Despite being among the fastest growing populations throughout the US, and in some areas the primary driver of population and economic growth, Latino communities are often absent from environmental decision-making, even as they are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate disasters. With more of a voice in decision-making and advocacy, Latinos become an invaluable constituency of the environmental movement and a pillar for systemic change and justice.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to share with you the voices of Latino leaders on the frontlines of sanctuary protection and ocean justice.

Claudia Pineda Tibbs, Senior Sustainability Program Manager, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and advisory council member of Olas y Acción

The phrase “representation matters” holds so much power for folks with marginalized identities. This Hispanic/Latine Heritage Month, I’m thinking deeply about the gente that have served as mentors and supporters to uplift and encourage me to pursue my goals.

Values of those caring mentors have emphasized the importance of comunidad and connection to nuestra cultura to stay rooted and make the ancestors proud.

This has had a profound impact on me as someone who started their career with very few Latine gente leading in the ocean conservation field, but within the last few years, I have seen that change with NGOs led by headstrong Latines at Azul, Brown Girls Surf, GreenLatinos, Hispanic Access Foundation, and Latino Outdoors.

My mom has always stressed the importance of “poniendose las pilas” or giving it your all, yet it can sometimes feel like being on a deserted island when very few to no one with your background is in the same field as you.

So how can we uplift each other when imposter syndrome or those insecure feelings creep up? I try to remind myself that I am not alone. We Latines come from a long line of people who have endured suffering and the erasure of our culture and language, yet we persist in spaces where melanated folks have been undervalued or spoken over, especially in the environment field. One of the most supportive groups I’ve been privileged to participate in is the Olas y Acción Advisory Council.

We advocate for ocean and coastal justice issues across the nation. While we come from different Latine backgrounds, we champion equity to ensure ocean protection leads to access and opportunities for future generaciones to see themselves represented in biodiverse ecosystems that allow human and animal communities to thrive.

Pastor Claudio Lapidus, member of Por La Creación Faith-Based Alliance

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,

Como líderes de fe en la Red Por La Creación, estamos comprometidos con la idea de ser buenos guardianes de la creación de Dios. Nuestro deber es proteger y preservar la maravillosa obra de Dios en la naturaleza. Hoy, queremos compartir por qué es vital apoyar la conservación del océano, específicamente en relación con el Santuario Marino Nacional del Patrimonio Chumash, y cómo esto beneficia a nuestras comunidades hispanas.

Este santuario, propuesto en la hermosa Costa Central de California, abarcará una extensa área de hasta 7,600 millas cuadradas de océano. ¿Por qué es tan importante para nosotros, como latinos y líderes de fe?

En primer lugar, recordemos que el océano es una parte fundamental de nuestras vidas. Desde días de playa en familia hasta ceremonias de bautismo junto al mar, el océano ocupa un lugar especial en nuestros corazones y en nuestras tradiciones. Preservarlo significa que las generaciones futuras también podrán disfrutar de estas experiencias maravillosas.

Además, nuestras comunidades hispanas a menudo son las más vulnerables a los efectos negativos del cambio climático y la contaminación del océano. La conservación del Santuario Chumash no solo protege la biodiversidad y los hábitats críticos, sino que también contribuye a la resiliencia costera contra el aumento del nivel del mar y las inundaciones, que pueden afectar desproporcionadamente a nuestras comunidades.

Nuestro compromiso con la conservación del océano es un llamado a la equidad. Las comunidades latinas y otras comunidades locales deben tener acceso equitativo a un océano limpio y seguro, para la recreación, los medios de vida y la cultura. Esto significa proteger los ecosistemas de humedales, las ciento cincuenta y siete millas de costas, trabajar juntos para mantener el océano libre de contaminación, amenazas como la explotación petrolífera y la minería en alta mar.

Además, los latinos son uno de los grupos demográficos de más rápido crecimiento que viven junto al océano y las costas. Nuestro compromiso con la conservación es esencial para garantizar que nuestras comunidades sigan prosperando en un entorno marino limpio, seguro y saludable.

En resumen, la conservación del Santuario Marino Nacional del Patrimonio Chumash, es una causa que debemos abrazar con todo nuestro corazón. Esto no solo protege la herencia de las comunidades Indígenas Chumash y la biodiversidad, sino que también promueve la equidad y el bienestar general de nuestras comunidades Hispanas. Como líderes de Fe, instamos a todos a unirse a este importante esfuerzo de conservación del océano y a ser buenos guardianes de la creación de Dios.

Juntos, podemos asegurar que nuestras futuras generaciones hereden un océano próspero y lleno de vida. Que Dios nos guíe en este camino de cuidado y responsabilidad.

Dear brothers and sisters,

As faith leaders in the Por la Creación Faith-Based Alliance, we are committed to being good stewards of God’s creation. Our duty is to protect and preserve God’s wonderful work in nature. Today, we want to share why it is vital to support ocean conservation, specifically in relation to the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, and how this benefits our Hispanic communities.

This sanctuary, proposed on California’s beautiful Central Coast, will encompass an extensive area of up to 7,600 square miles of ocean. Why is it so important to us, as Latinos and faith leaders?

First of all, let’s remember that the ocean is a fundamental part of our lives. From family beach days to seaside baptism ceremonies, the ocean holds a special place in our hearts and traditions. Preserving it means that future generations will also be able to enjoy these wonderful experiences.

Additionally, our Hispanic communities are often the most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and ocean pollution. Conservation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary not only protects biodiversity and critical habitats, but also contributes to coastal resilience against sea level rise and flooding, which can disproportionately affect our communities.

Our commitment to ocean conservation is a call for equity. Latino and other local communities must have equitable access to a clean and safe ocean, for recreation, livelihoods and culture. This means protecting wetland ecosystems, all 157 miles of coastline, working together to keep the ocean free of pollution, threats like oil drilling and offshore mining.

Additionally, Latinos are one of the fastest growing demographic groups living along the ocean and coasts. Our commitment to conservation is essential to ensure our communities continue to thrive in a clean, safe and healthy marine environment.

In short, the conservation of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary is a cause we must embrace with all our hearts. This not only protects the heritage of Chumash Indigenous communities and biodiversity, but also promotes equity and the overall well-being of our Hispanic communities. As faith leaders, we urge everyone to join this important ocean conservation effort and be good stewards of God’s creation.

Together, we can ensure that our future generations inherit an ocean that is prosperous and full of life. May God guide us on this path of care and responsibility.

Written by Claudia P. Tibbs, Claudio Lapidus, and Shanna Edberg for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. 


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is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

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