by Lydia Sharp-White, Staff Attorney, Center for Seafarers’ Rights
As staff attorney for the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) Center for Seafarers’ Rights (CSR), I engage in behind-the-scenes advocacy work on seafarers’ rights while working in the field, visiting ships and directly assisting seafarers. One part of my work involves managing the @enviroguides Twitter account for SCI’s seafarers’ and port workers’ US environmental law education program.
SCI aims to inform and bring greater awareness about environmental protection to all sectors of the maritime industry, and thanks to social media technologies, I can reach seafarers and other interested people with new information and facts. On SCI’s @enviroguides Twitter feed, I share news about the environment at sea, new ship designs and eco-friendly outfittings, current legal proceedings and outcomes, as well as legal facts and guidance about where to find more information.
I especially seek to reach international seafarers who often come from cultures and countries with differing laws and practices regarding protection of the environment. (The penalties for violating US environmental laws are severe and ignorance of the law is not an excuse for violation.) In the two months since I began managing @enviroguides, we have garnered a following that includes corporations, organizations, seafarers and other individuals—all interested in some aspect of the maritime industry and its environmental regulations.
The @enviroguides feed differs from a news aggregator, which simply pulls in stories based on keywords. In my work for SCI, I scour the Internet for content related to environmental protection, handpicking interesting and important stories that relate directly to the maritime industry and US environmental laws. @enviroguides has been a fun way to assist with a serious job and I believe it impacts people that we would not regularly reach through other channels.
In connection with SCI’s new enviroguides.us webapp, which re-launched this past weekend in a user-friendlier, easy to navigate and interactive form, I am eager to continue sharing and spreading the word on US environmental laws. With increased awareness and knowledge, fewer seafarers will be victims of the laws and the environment will receive the necessary protection.
SCI created its US environmental law education program in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, producing the enviroguides webapp, pamphlets and a Seafarers’ Environmental Education training course. The substance of the program includes US laws administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Coast Guard (USCG), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and International maritime laws promulgated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on safety, training and the environment. Check out our webapp at http://enviroguides.us and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/enviroguides.