Biking the Contiguous Pacific Coast for Sustainable Fisheries.

The ocean is big. Really big. 139,434,000 square miles big. That's bigger than all of Earth's land area big. That's the kind of big that we humans just can't wrap our heads around. Seeing as our conscious mind can only hold about seven things at once, tops (according to some experts even less [1]), then trying to imagine the estimated 3.5 trillion fish in the ocean is a downright folly [2]. It’s understandable then, how something so unimaginably big as all the fish in the sea would seem inexhaustible to us. What could ever impact something so huge?

The answer is us. Our appetite for seafood and energy, along with our propensity to pollute are exhausting the ocean. I’ve read enough staggering statistic to know how real the situation is, and how paralyzing those numbers can be. Chances are if you’re reading this, you don’t need to be convinced. You’ve probably seen these things on your own coastline or the news: Ocean acidification, oil spills, declining populations, the garbage patch, trash washing ashore- inside or outside the stomachs of beached whales... Without overwhelming you, dear reader, let’s follow this environmentalist’s mantra; acknowledge the problems, recognize it won’t get better without action (and even if it won’t, are you going to just sit there?), then get to work. Now I don’t have a giant crude oil-sucking, plastic-scooping schooner, or a Japanese pirate whaler-fighting warship, but I do have a laptop and a bicycle….

Now I won’t pretend that this expedition grew solely out of a sense of altruistic duty for the ocean. In truth it started with a late-night gaze from deep in the cushions of a busted-up couch in upstate New York. There on the wall, my eyes fell upon a large map of the continental United States. From my dingy vantage point, the West Coast had an alluring gleam and the sound of crashing waves on a ragged sunset coastline began to creep all around me; I was beginning to smile and feel sand between my toes when I snapped out of it and looked down—I hadn’t vacuumed in a while, I guess. Looking back at the map, allowing myself to be awed at the glory of that mighty coast, it hit me that while the entire North American Pacific coastline stretches from the Aleutians to Chiapas, the most biologically diverse, culturally dense, and geographically contiguous section of it is contained between the Olympic Peninsula and the Baja California Peninsula. Immediately, I noticed an itch to pedal; ‘What an epic ride that would be…’ A sort of extended sun-salutation to the Pacific. ‘As soon as I get my degree…’ I thought as I began to scheme and dream of post-graduate freedom.

The scheming became verbalized over a pint on a wet December night in Seattle’s Central Saloon with an old buddy. If you keep reading this blog, you’ll surely come to know Lluc, but suffice to say, some old friends know you better than you know yourself. With a twinkle in my eye: “I’m thinking of biking the West Coast, clear through Baja.” There was hardly a hesitation before, “I’m in.” As we talked it over, it seemed clear that it would foolish, knowing the condition the ocean is in, to make such an Oceanic pilgrimage without offering something back. Now there’s very little that Lluc and I love more than being on bikes, but without a doubt, it’s food. Glorious food. If only there was some cause that championed good food and the ocean…

“Save the Ocean. Feed the world.” I read it on Oceana’s website and knew we’d found the answer. Sustainable fisheries!! Eureka!!! We can protect that oceanic cake and eat it too! But seriously, restoring the oceans could feed 1 billion people a healthy seafood meal each day [3]. That’s nothing to scoff at. I can write as any letters as I want to my congressmen and sign a hundred thousand online petitions, but an organized international organization committed to lobbying nations to adopt policies that protect important marine habitat, set catch limits, and reduce bycatch to preserve the productivity of our oceans—that’s a recipe for getting things done. But it takes cash, lots of it. So, where does that leave Lluc and I on our bikes? We saddle up, bound for Baja, and come riding through your sleepy beach town (and some major cities too), spreading the good word of sustainable fishery management and ocean conservation— over a few fish tacos perhaps. You meet us along the way, see it online, hear about us from your friends, think ‘what’s all this about saving the oceans and feeding the world?” Maybe it sounds interesting, you look it up and ponder the notion; “Say, that sounds pretty good!” Yeah, we think so too. You think, ‘Yeah, the ocean and all it’s bounty is worth 10 bucks to me. Heck, it’s worth 50 bucks to me.’ You sit right down and donate some cold, hard, ocean-saving cash to the campaign, and pretty soon, we’ve raised a whopping load of cash the hand over to the folks at Oceana to make real change. It’s that easy to be a hero.

So that’s it. Eating seafood to keep biking and biking to keep eating seafood. And it’s gonna be an adventure too. This blog is an open invitation for you to participate in any way you can. Wanna come ride along? By all means. Have a backyard we can camp in? Great. With the mission and want to donate? Right on. Can’t donate but will read follow along on the blog loyally and tell all your friends? Solid. Let’s get down to it.