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MASSPIRG launches ‘Protect Our Oceans’ campaign

As the semester begins to wind down and students look toward Winter Break and Spring Semester, one organization on campus has set their sights onto different plans. Though some students may be spending their breaks vacationing to warm oceans and beaches, UMass Boston’s chapter of MASSPIRG will be working to preserve an ocean of their own, just a few miles away from the shores of campus.

According to their website, MASSPIRG advocates for public interest and speaks out for the public. (1) MASSPIRG Students serves as a division of the MASSPIRG program, which works with professional staff members at universities, as well as our peers, to lead campaigns on college campuses. (2)

As MASSPIRG representatives explained in an email: “MASSPIRG Students is a student-led and student-funded organization, working to create a better, more sustainable future for us all. We work on college campuses across the state on public issues pertaining to the environment, college affordability and youth civic engagement.”

Throughout the Fall 2023 semester, our MASSPIRG chapter has started a new campaign working to protect Cashes’ Ledge, an ecosystem just off the Gulf of Maine. According to MASSPIRG Students’ website, Cashes’ Ledge is a hotspot for marine mammals like whales, puffins and fish—specifically cod, which is often overfished—but is not being protected the way some other locations similar to it are. As the MASSPIRG Students’ website states:

“The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 96 percent of the world’s oceans, adding even more stress to New England’s marine ecosystems. We can reduce this stress by preserving hotspots for ocean life. Just like with national parks on land, ocean regions off-limits to human impact allow their species, from vibrant fish to sedentary sponges, to safely survive and thrive.” (3)

When asked about their choice to get involved with the campaign, the UMass Boston chapter added their thoughts by saying, “As students at UMass Boston who see and interact with the ocean every day on our beautiful campus, the ocean is a very special place that needs our help.”

“Only 13% of oceans worldwide can be considered by scientists as ‘untouched’ from human activity,” the UMass Boston MASSPIRG explained in an email. “We want future generations to be able to experience the incredible wildlife that is so important to us and is also integral to part of New England’s coastal identity.”

The representatives from UMass Boston’s chapter of MASSPIRG also noted that the goal for this campaign is to build public support, in order to push Cashes’ Ledge onto the list of ecosystems President Joe Biden planned to protect through his America the Beautiful executive order.

“We know President Biden has already signed an executive order to permanently protect 30% of U.S. oceans by 2030,” the representatives explained. “But in order to get him to include Cashes Ledge in that 30%, we’re going to need support from local and state-wide elected officials, community groups and businesses. By generating this support, we can get this area on the Biden administration’s radar and hopefully get them to start the process to permanently protect the area. The President has a few tools at his disposal to do so—but whatever one he picks, he’ll need to see a wave of support, so that’s our focus right now.”

In order to garner support for Cashes’ Ledge, the representatives work with Environment Massachusetts and other student leaders in the state in order to strategize a plan of action, in addition to hosting events on campus to get attention from the UMass Boston community. Throughout the Fall 2023 semester, MASSPIRG has hosted events such as petitioning events, a beach cleanup, letter writing events and meetings with elected officials.

“We are always looking for students to get involved—whether as a leader coordinating aspects of the campaign or as a volunteer. We are looking to build long-lasting movements of student power. Students are welcome to join our team at any point in the semester,” the representatives for MASSPIRG said. They also added that anyone looking to join could do so via the “Volunteer on Campus” tab of MASSPIRG Students webpage, and could find out about the UMass Boston chapter via the “Chapters” page on the MASSPIRG Students webpage.

With their final points about their inspirations and goals behind their involvement with this campaign, the representatives finished off with one final note:

“We want future generations to be able to experience the incredible wildlife that is so important
to us and is also integral to part of New England’s coastal identity. Right now, the ecosystem is one of the few places in the Gulf of Maine that is still relatively healthy. If we are successful in making its protections permanent, we hope to keep it that way, so that our whales, seabirds and fish have a healthy ecosystem in which to survive—and maybe even thrive.”

  1. https://pirg.org/massachusetts/about/
  2. https://masspirgstudents.org/our-mission/
  3. https://masspirgstudents.org/campaigns/protect-our-oceans/
About the Contributor
Katrina Sanville, Editor-In-Chief