Capitol Hill Ocean Week is going virtual for 2020

CHOW is virtual on June 9th, allowing the ocean and Great Lakes community to connect on a broader scale, bring in new contributors and host a more inclusive conversation

Registration is open now at 


Silver Spring, Md. – April 6, 2020 – The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation announced that Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), the nation’s premier ocean and Great Lakes policy conference, will be virtual in 2020.  The conference will take place on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.  

The continued spread of the coronavirus challenged the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation  to find an innovative way to continue the great programming expected from CHOW. 

Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, said, “Our thoughts are with all those who are sick from the virus and who are experiencing the economic hardship from the pandemic. We are grateful to all the essential workers from doctors and nurses to farmer workers, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, sanitation workers and many, many more who are keeping us safe and providing critical services to all of us.” will be the online portal into insightful discussions on how to conserve biodiversity and build a sustainable global economy that protects nature, which is critical to people’s health and well-being.  The ocean contains a multitude of wonders yet to be discovered, including potentially life-saving cures. The possibilities of new vaccines and medical therapies underscores the importance of conserving and protecting biodiversity in these largely unexplored ecosystems.

With the accessible virtual format, Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2020 is an opportunity for people from across the U.S. and the globe to come together for a conversation on how we can work together to conserve the variety of life on Earth for the long term health of our communities and the planet.  

CHOW will offer a  full day of activities, including plenaries and concurrent breakout sessions on how science and technology are advancing our understanding of the marine environment, the role of protected areas in conserving biodiversity, and how to engage people as stewards.  CHOW will showcase the amazing work of ocean and Great Lakes partners through a virtual exhibit hall, and are planning a social gathering through a virtual closing happy hour. 

As part of this year’s changes, the Foundation is not holding the Ocean Awards Gala in June as planned.  The gala, held in conjunction with Capitol Hill Ocean Week, recognizes champions whose commitment to ocean and Great Lakes stewardship instills optimism in all of us working to protect our blue planet.  The Foundation will create new ways to engage and celebrate ocean and Great Lakes champions this year with more details to come in the near future. 

CHOW is a free event and open to the public.  Registration is now open for Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2020 here: 

Find more information at

For sponsorship information, contact or call 301.608.3040 x310.


About Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2020

The breadth of life in our ocean and Great Lakes is astounding. A healthy planet is essential to our health, well-being, and economic livelihood. Nature provides the clean air we breathe, the fresh water we drink, the food we eat, the medicines we take, and the raw materials we use.  It is estimated that, globally, nature provides services worth $125 trillion a year. Nature also contributes up to one-third to global climate change mitigation efforts. Scientific studies document the threats facing our planet from climate change, overfishing and habitat losses, and they also inform the solutions for policymakers.  2020 provide the opportunity for a turning point to begin reversing the trend of biodiversity loss and restoring nature for the good of the planet and all of us who depend on it.  

Protecting biodiversity and building a sustainable global economy that protects nature is critical to people’s health and well-being.   With its accessible virtual format, Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2020 is the opportunity for people from across the U.S. and the globe to engage in dialogue on actions we can take to conserve the variety of life on Earth for the long term health of our communities and the planet.   



Defining Priorities for Meaningful Protection

Across the globe, nations are  expanding marine and freshwater protected areas to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, mitigate the effects of climate change, and safeguard areas critical to communities and sustainable food production.  While the percentage of protected waters grows, however, we are still losing species and habitats at an ever-accelerating rate. How can we effectively halt this trend? What does effective protection mean?

High Seas: Shared Stewardship for Our Global Ocean

The high seas lie beyond any nation’s exclusive economic zone, the 200 nautical miles from a country’s shore. Covering two-thirds of our ocean, the high seas belong to everyone and no one.  Their health and sustainable management is vital to our global ocean and to people’s livelihoods. Climate change, overfishing, shipping, plastic pollution and mining pose growing threats.   Learn why protecting the high seas is important and how first-ever global efforts are defining how nations can join together in governance of these waters.    

A New Age of Exploration

The ocean depths are our planet’s last frontier.  People feel an innate curiosity about what lies below the waves and in the darkest depths.  New partnerships and technologies, such as submersibles, artificial intelligence and eDNA, are making it possible to explore deeper and further from shore, helping us take the pulse of our planet and the life it sustains.  Join us for a discussion on how exploration and improved scientific knowledge can strengthen management and governance of the marine environment for the health of our ocean and the people, communities, and businesses that rely on it. 



Cooperating for Our Global Ocean

From seabed mapping to biodiversity monitoring, nations are coming together to enhance understanding of the ocean and all species living in it.  Hear more about these global initiatives and partnerships to document diversity and track changes. 

Innovative Approaches for Restoration and Monitoring 

Drones, robots, and other modern tools are expanding our reach, reducing costs, and enhancing impact in biodiversity restoration and monitoring. In this panel, hear about exciting achievements and new approaches. 

Inspiring Action with Media and Art

Stories  and visual media can ignite the mind in a way that talk and text don’t, providing opportunity for education, emotional connection, and broader public engagement in biodiversity conservation. In this session, see how creative minds are using video, photography, and stories to put biodiversity issues in front of new audiences and inspire action.

Margaret Davidson Emerging Leaders: New Perspectives on Conserving Nature

What does biodiversity loss mean for us and what actions can we take to turn the trajectory around? During this plenary, we will hear from emerging voices in science, technology, and conservation on why we need to conserve a variety of life on earth, our role in stewardship of nature, and the integration of biodiversity protection into our economy.

Restoring Our Waters 

From coral reefs to wetlands, restoration can improve habitat and recover species  in order to increase biodiversity and ecosystem functions that have been degraded or lost. In this panel, hear from practitioners about their work to restore marine and Great Lakes species and habitats.   

Changing Climate, Changing Strategies

Climate change profoundly affects marine and Great Lakes biodiversity. How do we address climate impacts in our conservation planning?  How can local and regional actions have an impact in the face of global change? 

Transformative Technologies 

Crossovers! New collaborations! Across geographies and disciplines, novel thinking and partnerships are helping us better understand and protect biodiversity. This panel will dive in and highlight just a few of these surprising combinations.   

The Power of Protection

How do we define a protected area in our ocean or Great Lakes?  Why does protection matter? Learn about the value of area-based management and new ideas that are helping to maximize impact. 


Contact: Chip Weiskotten

Director of Strategic Communications

301.608.3040 x 305




The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve America’s maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at

Capitol Hill Ocean Week is the nation’s premier ocean and Great Lakes policy conference. Convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation every June, Capitol Hill Ocean Week brings together national and global stakeholders to address pressing science, conservation, and management issues facing our ocean and Great Lakes. Learn more at