Editor:The following – by Megan Baehrens, Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper – is a response by their organization to our post on Tuesday questioning their “partnership” with SeaWorld in cleaning Mission Bay. It was originally posted as a comment to that article, and has not been edited. Megan refers to two commenters, JEC and Stu, in her writing. In his comments, JEC had raised questions about whether Sea World is a corporate donor to Coastkeeper.
By Megan Baehrens /San Diego Coastkeeper
Hello Frank and OB Rag readers.
First of all, Frank, thank you for maintaining a level of journalism in San Diego that holds the community accountable. We indeed asked ourselves some of these same questions nearly a year ago as we weighed our options for how to work with SeaWorld—as you note, a significant presence on our waterfront. Ultimately, as Jill pointed out, we believe it’s important to build relationships and respect—all while maintaining integrity–in order to open doors to much harder (and much more important) dialogue.
We are aware of SeaWorld’s storied past and dedicated much time to understanding their practices to ensure we could be proud of this partnership. In fact, you mention some fairly old facts about SeaWorld and the health of Mission Bay. We’d be happy to meet with you or any of your readers to share what we know.
That does not change the fact that you and JEC ask very tough questions, and we like to see informed citizens doing just that. Yes, we received a $10,000 grant from SeaWorld to cover our staff’s time managing a debris cleanup project later this month. And, no, this will not impede any movement on our part to hold SeaWorld accountable for water quality issues should we not be able to sit at a table and find solutions together.
This is not a new practice in Coastkeeper’s history. For many years and currently, we’ve partnered with and accepted money from agencies like the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego while also using aggressive measures to hold them accountable for decision making and lack of response to water quality crises.
We think we balance this well, value these complicated relationships with major players in the region and look forward to sharing with you and your readers positive results we achieve with SeaWorld.
Specifically to JEC and Stu, thank you for being part of this conversation. I invite you any time to have coffee to talk about our role in this community and any concerns you have. I appreciate that you follow our work.