About Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, convenes policymakers, scientists, managers, business leaders, conservationists, educators, students, and members of the public to engage in dialogue and debate on significant issues that impact our ocean and Great Lakes and to propose innovative policies and partnerships to address these issues.  The conference builds bridges, elevates key voices and thought leaders of different backgrounds, perspectives, and disciplines, and facilitates an exchange of ideas on how to keep our ocean and Great Lakes healthy and productive. 

Why is CHOW 2021 focusing on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice?  CHOW is central to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s work to sustain a healthy ocean and Great Lakes. Right before CHOW 2020, our Nation saw the senseless murder of George Floyd and police using tear-gas on peaceful protestors who were standing up against racism, prejudice and injustice.  Systematic racism impacts our laws, our policies, and our institutions.  As an organization, we asked: how can we make a difference?  And one part of the answer is to focus CHOW 2021 on how to address racial equity and justice in ocean conservation, science and policy-making.  

The health and sustainability of our ocean and Great Lakes depend on all people  and the actions we take now will have sweeping long term impacts. Our success will require the experience, expertise, perspectives and values of the communities most affected by environmental change and quality. CHOW 2021 will examine how exclusionary practices and systemic racism impact conservation, science, and policy; and, how strengthening diversity, equity, inclusion and justice will improve the sustainability of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.

We want your feedback!

This year’s conference will focus on the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in marine conservation, science and policy. Our theme this year represents just one way the Foundation is working to make a difference in addressing the influence of systemic racism on our laws, policies, and institutions. Please share your thoughts on our conference description and themes by responding to our short three minute survey.


Take the Survey

Proposed Themes for 2021

CHOW 2021 will focus on three themes: 

Climate Disruption and Climate Justice

Climate change is altering our ocean and Great Lakes with social, economic, and public health impacts on families and communities across the U.S. and the globe. These impacts are not borne equally and disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. This theme will explore how people and communities vulnerable to climate change and disruption address these challenges and develop community-based solutions and empower people to take action.


Environmental Quality and Justice

Communities of color face some of the worst cases of environmental pollution and degradation in the nation. The health of a community and the health of our ocean and Great Lakes are integrally linked. This theme will explore how we ensure that all people have the same protection from environmental hazards and equal access to opportunities to maintain a healthy environment to live, learn, and work.


Equity and Inclusion for Sustainable Ocean and Great Lakes

Coastlines contain some of our country’s largest population and economic activity centers, with the majority (52 percent) living in coastal watershed counties. These areas are more ethnically and racially diverse than the United States as a whole. These communities directly impact the water quality and environmental health of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. This theme will look at cooperative management and how we can include all people in resource management and conservation.



Our hope for CHOW 2021 is that it will provide practical knowledge and identify concrete actions that elected officials, agencies, organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and individuals can take to strengthen diversity, equity, inclusion and justice for communities of colors in marine and Great Lakes conservation, science and policy sectors.  

CHOW’s focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice will not end in 2021.  We will use information and actions learned during the conference to inform our work moving forward.

For the second time in conference history, CHOW 2021 will be an all-virtual event. Our online platform will be inclusive and accessible to attendees all over the United States and the world. Though we value the experience of meeting in person each year, the health and safety of our attendees remains our top priority. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by COVID-19 and we look forward to the time at which we can safely gather in person for Capitol Hill Ocean Week.

For more about Capitol Hill Ocean Week, archives of CHOWs past, and other information, visit our CHOW main page.


If you have questions, please contact us at conference@marinesanctuary.org.

For information about sponsoring Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2021 or the Ocean Awards Gala, click here. Contact carol@marinesanctuary.org with any questions.

Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2020 Sponsors

Media sponsor

Media sponsor