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 »
A 66-foot dock that washed up in Oregon was identified and confirmed as tsunami-related debris. Credit: NOAA
As Interim President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy and a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I watched with concern the news of a large Japanese dock landing in Oregon after being washed away by the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan. In the Tacoma News Tribune, I explain why we should be concerned about the tsunami debris heading our way and what we can do:
While it is still too soon to know exactly how big a problem this debris will be for U.S. shores, the International Pacific Research Center estimates that 5 percent or less of the approximately 1.5 million tons of debris in the Pacific Ocean could make landfall.
To prepare for what might come, we should prioritize baseline monitoring, modeling and outreach in communities. Ocean Conservancy has been working closely with the Obama administration, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as they ramp up response efforts.
In addition to monitoring and volunteer cleanups, we also should be advocating for the resources that may be needed to deal with the aftermath of a disaster of this magnitude.
While natural disasters are inevitable, trash choking our ocean is not. Read the full story here.
Two weeks ago, I was awakened on a Saturday morning by an urgent message from one of Ocean Conservancy’s scientists, Marine Debris Specialist Nick Mallos.
Nick had spent the past three weeks in Japan surveying tsunami damage and participating in cleanups along the coast. The next morning, he was scheduled to depart on the Algalita/5 Gyres Tsunami Debris Research Expedition heading to Maui along the path of the tsunami debris.
But Nick had suddenly become seriously ill and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital. “I’m so sorry to let you down,” he wrote, “but I won’t be able to join the expedition.”
His words were immediately heartbreaking and terrifying. It was my first day and first test as Interim President and CEO. I assembled a crisis team of staff, who stayed up around the clock to do everything we could to take care of Nick from thousands of miles away.
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