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WASHINGTON -- The Advertising Council, in partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Defense, and the Walt Disney Studios' Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment Division, is launching a multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to encourage all Americans to protect the oceans from marine debris.
The campaign, which prominently features scenes and characters from Disney's ocean-themed animated film, "The Little Mermaid," marks the first time that the three environmental organizations have collaborated on the issue of ocean protection. The use of such well-known characters will help to deliver this environmental message in a family-friendly way.
Over half of the nation's population lives along the coast, while many others visit the ocean each year. Yet few Americans are aware that the health of our oceans is currently at risk; nor do they realize that they have a significant role to play in keeping the oceans clean. No matter where people live, marine debris, such as fast-food packaging; cigarette lighters/butts/packaging; beverage containers, and disabled or waste fishing gear either enters the oceans directly when discarded near the coast, or indirectly via rivers, streams, and storm drains, which ultimately flow into the oceans. In fact, routine activities on land and water contribute to 6.4 million tons of debris entering the oceans each year.
The majority of marine debris consists of plastics, which cause environmental problems, as they degrade even more slowly in seawater than on land. Discarded plastic bags comprise over 50 percent of dangerous marine items and are consumed by marine mammals such as sea turtles and whales. This consumption causes blockage of their intestinal tracts, which can lead to choking and starvation. Additionally, thousands of seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, and sea turtles become entangled in plastic debris or in lost and discarded fishing lines and nets every year. This not only destroys marine habitat, but causes skin lesions, ulcerating wounds, suffocation, and death.
The new campaign is designed to raise awareness among Americans about the health of the oceans and the impact of human actions on the ocean ecosystem. The campaign also seeks to inspire individuals to identify ways they can take action to help keep the oceans clean.
"We all love and enjoy the oceans, but studies show that the majority of Americans rarely think about how our actions impact their well-being," said Peggy Conlon, president and c.e.o. of the Advertising Council. "Research shows that ocean pollution is low on our list of environmental concerns. This campaign beautifully conveys how important and easy it is to protect our oceans."
The movie's ocean setting makes it an appropriate visual foundation for this project. As the most requested animated Disney DVD title, it is very recognizable to parents and families, who watch the movie and have an emotional connection with the characters -- and are the key demographic for making a difference on this environmental issue.
The PSAs feature the characters Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian, as well as others from film. All of the PSAs communicate to audiences that, regardless of where you live, "life in the oceans depends on you," and encourage consumers to dispose of trash properly.
"The good news is that the problem of trash in our oceans is one that can be solved," said Lori Arguelles, president and c.e.o. of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. "As this campaign points out, each one of us can make a huge difference by being more aware of how we dispose of trash. The ocean truly is 'part of our world' and 'The Little Mermaid' characters help make that connection, especially to children, who have a huge impact on their parents' actions, as previous land-based recycling efforts have shown."
The new PSAs encourage Americans to visit a new Web site, www.keepoceansclean.org, to learn how they can protect the oceans. The new PSA campaign will feature television spots, including in Spanish, and an outdoor and online campaign and will be distributed to media outlets nationwide this month, to appear in advertising time and space donated by the media.
To view the PSAs, visit www.keepoceansclean.org.