Ocean Currents

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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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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."

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.

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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.

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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 »

Tsunamis are unavoidable; trash choking our ocean is not

Posted On July 16, 2012 by

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.

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Taking Calculated Risks to Protect What We Love

Posted On June 20, 2012 by

Nick Mallos

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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