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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

About Janis Searles Jones

Janis Searles Jones is Ocean Conservancy's President. A respected expert in the marine conservation field, Janis has provided Congressional testimony and is a frequent speaker at conferences all over the United States. She also authored chapters on sustainable use of ocean resources in "Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy" and "Ecosystem-based Management for the Oceans."

Senator Lautenberg: A Hero for Our Ocean

Posted On June 3, 2013 by

Ocean Conservancy expresses condolences to the family and friends of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) for their loss at his passing.  Senator Lautenberg was a tireless protector of not just New Jersey, but all of our waters and coastlines.  He was a true environmental champion who will be sorely missed by all those who care about our ocean.  During his long career, he built an incredible legacy of conservation.  Here are just few key highlights:

  • He introduced and passed the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act so that the government could be begin coordinating research on the changing chemistry of the ocean.
  • He successfully fought to improve water quality and curb ocean dumping of sewage and plastics.
  • He wrote and passed the BEACH Act, a law to improve water quality monitoring standards and make sure the public is informed about the safety of their beaches.
  • He was a strong advocate for action to reduce pollution and tackle climate change, pushing for a clean energy future, reducing carbon pollution and promoting renewable energy.
  • He was a tireless advocate for the prevention of oil spills, and was part of congressional efforts to put in place tighter regulations, and to get companies to use stronger “double-hulled tankers” to prevent oil spills. He worked to prevent offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic coast.
  • As the Chairman of the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the regulation of toxic chemicals, Senator Lautenberg  held hearings and introduced legislation to put the burden on chemical companies to provide data to the EPA so that Americans can be assured the chemicals they are exposed to are safe. He was a champion for the public’s right to know more about the pollution being released into their neighborhoods and created the Toxic Release Inventory.
  • He introduced and passed the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act to awards grants to states with approved coastal management programs to protect environmentally sensitive lands.

Senator Lautenberg stands on the Asbury Park Boardwalk with Rep. Frank Pallone and others to call for full funding for BEACH Act grants and push new federal legislation that would strengthen existing water quality protection programs.(August 23, 2012) www.lautenberg.senate.gov

 

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A “To Do” List for the Ocean

Posted On April 16, 2013 by

Photo by Mattox. Creative Commons

Great news for anyone who thinks having a healthy ocean is a good idea.  The President’s National Ocean Policy Final Implementation Plan was released today.  It may not have the catchiest title, but since it’s essentially a “To Do” list for a healthy ocean and economy, it’s something worth getting excited about.

This “To Do” list includes over 50 action items related to making smarter use of the ocean and Great Lakes, both for conservation and the economy.  There are tasks related to protecting the Arctic, tackling climate change and ocean acidification, improving water quality and overall finding ways to better coordinate and manage ocean uses through data collection and monitoring, mapping and improved agency coordination.

Like most to-do lists, there are a lot of routine tasks, such as monitoring of temperature. There are also some ambitious feats on there. It provides the underpinning to cope with unpreventable and unpredictable events, like hurricanes and tsunamis, increased marine debris or rising sea levels.  This plan tackles many of those issues, and much more.

The National Ocean Policy is about making smart choices for a healthier ocean – which, in turn, saves money, time and jobs. The Implementation Plan shows that the policy is a realistic plan that recognizes the tough fiscal climate we’re in.  That’s why it emphasizes that these priorities can help direct the limited resources to where they’re most needed.

We’ve written before about the National Ocean Policy and what has happened so far.

Unfortunately we can expect some of the same critics to cry foul about this based on politics rather than the content of the plan.  Slowing down or blocking the National Ocean Policy could devastate services that many businesses and communities rely on. Congressman Markey once said that opposing the National Ocean Policy is like opposing air traffic control.

Our new CEO, Andreas Merkl, recently said,

“The ocean is at the very center of the key challenges of our time: how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. In every aspect of this challenge—food, energy, climate and protection of our natural resources—our ability to manage our impacts on the ocean will make the crucial difference in sustaining the resources that we need to survive.”

Approaches that look at the big picture, like the National Ocean Policy, are exactly what we need to rise to this challenge.

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Sen. Daniel Inouye: A Hero to the Ocean, a Hero to Our Country

Posted On December 18, 2012 by


Senator Daniel Inouye makes remarks at the U.S.-Japan Council Opening Reception on Capitol Hill on October 6th, 2011. Photo: Us Japan Council

Late yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to announce the loss of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, one of the ocean’s true legislative champions. Inouye passed away last night as the second longest serving senator in history – leaving a long legacy of good works for the ocean.

As a senator and former representative from the country’s only island state, Inouye championed the causes of the ocean that surrounded and helped sustain the culture and economy of Hawaii. As one of Capitol Hill’s true bipartisan senators, he wielded his influence to work across the aisle and help pass landmark legislation for ocean health.

Inouye was an early champion in the fight against ocean trash, serving as a lead sponsor to introduce and eventually pass the Marine Debris Act. He also led and co-sponsored the most recent reauthorization of the bill.

Continue reading »

Praise for Science Champion, NOAA Chief Dr. Jane Lubchenco

Posted On December 12, 2012 by

Dr. Lubchenco (left) with Ellen Bolen, Ocean Conservancy’s Associate Director of Government Relations. Credit: NOAA

Dr. Jane Lubchenco announced today she is stepping down as administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We want to thank Dr. Jane Lubchenco for her tireless work to promote science, conservation and cooperation in all her efforts to ensure a healthy ocean. As the head of NOAA, she has led a forward-looking agency determined to preserve the ocean for generations to come.  We are confident she will remain a strong voice for science and conservation.

Ever a teacher, Dr. Lubchenco has been one of the most steadfast champions of science and the need for scientists to become solutions-oriented at a time when restoring scientific integrity is an urgent priority for the country. Under her leadership, NOAA renewed its focus on key ocean issues like ending overfishing, reducing marine debris, protecting the Arctic and tackling climate change and ocean acidification.

Dr. Lubchenco and NOAA were quick to respond to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the Gulf region, including the marine ecosystem, is restored. She was also instrumental in the creation and follow-through of President Obama’s historic National Ocean Policy Executive Order, which created a set of commonsense principles to protect important marine habitat, help clean up our nation’s beaches, and foster emerging industries and jobs.

We wish Dr. Lubchenco well in her new endeavors, and we hope that NOAA, and the rest of the federal government, follows her lead with a cooperative, scientific and ecosystem-based view to solving some of the planet’s biggest challenges. That also means it’s more important than ever that Congress provide NOAA the resources it needs. Superstorm Sandy was the most recent lesson in why NOAA is crucial — their tools, services and information can help us make better decisions to save lives and reduce the risks and costs of future disasters.

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In the Wake of Sandy, Thinking About the Future

Posted On October 31, 2012 by

Credit: AP Photos / Alex Brandon

Like many of you, many of Ocean Conservancy’s staff have lived through hurricanes and other natural disasters. We know how much damage hurricanes can cause, and our hearts go out to those of you affected by Hurricane Sandy.

For our staff working along the Gulf of Mexico, June through November is a time to remember how to “live with the water,” as Bethany Kraft, our director of Gulf Restoration put it at the start of this year’s hurricane season. When Hurricane Isaac hit last month, Gulf residents experienced hard winds, massive flooding and oiled shorelines that reminded us that we are still in the grips of responding to and recovering from the BP oil disaster.

Hurricane Sandy, which pounded the East Coast on Monday, was a wholly different storm. Our immediate concerns are always with those in the path of such devastating storms, especially those on the New Jersey coast and New York where the damage was especially acute. We send our gratitude to NOAA for the warnings and the time to prepare and to the first responders, who are not only saving lives but are leading communities’ recovery efforts.

As we shift from rescue to recovery, we are confronting a cleanup and rebuilding effort with an extraordinary price tag and an unforeseeable timeline. And while we can’t control such a massive storm, we can help strengthen our nation’s best defense against this force of nature.

Continue reading »

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Celebrating 40 Years of Making the Ocean Matter

Posted On September 7, 2012 by

coral reef with 40th anniversary logo

Photo: Gloria Freund, Photo Contest 2011

Today Ocean Conservancy turns 40 years old. That’s quite the milestone when you think about how we got started. (View a slideshow of our history.)

Founded in the midst of the nascent environmental movement in 1972, Ocean Conservancy began as a small organization focused on securing grants for environmental educators. Now we are recognized as a leader in empowering citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean.

For 40 years, Ocean Conservancy has found success by relying upon science to inform our work and partnering with unexpected allies ranging from fishing communities to major businesses to a global network of volunteers. However, there is still much work to be done.

Continue reading »

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What’s So Scary about a National Ocean Policy? Only That We Could Be Doing More.

Posted On July 17, 2012 by

July 19, 2010: President Obama signs the Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy. Credit: whitehouse.gov

During this week two years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was still dominating the news.  And as our staff surveyed the Gulf, inspecting the impacts of gushing oil, it was already becoming clear that systemic problems with how decisions are made in the ocean contributed to this disaster.

So when on July 19th, 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy, it was a bright spot shining through the murky waters.  The Ocean Policy and the National Ocean Council it created will use a set of common sense principles to protect important marine habitat, help clean up our nation’s beaches and foster emerging industries and jobs.  It’s a way to untangle the web of existing ocean regulations and protect coastal communities and the economy. This policy wouldn’t have stopped the oil disaster, but it could provide a better path forward for a thriving, healthy ocean that also meets our economic needs. Continue reading »