The Blog Aquatic » Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Talking Trash and Taking Action http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/27/talking-trash-and-taking-action/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/27/talking-trash-and-taking-action/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:00:40 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9096

This post was written by Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Education and Outreach Fellow, Emily Parker. Emily recently graduated from Elon University with a major in Environmental Studies. She joined the Trash Free Seas team as in intern earlier this year to assist in the development and distribution of the Talking Trash & Taking Action program and is now working to help educate the public on the issue of marine debris as a Fellow. While not at Ocean Conservancy, you can find her hunting down the best food in Washington, D.C. and escaping to saltwater and sand whenever she can.

No matter what the cause, empowering students and youth to make a difference in the world through volunteerism always inspires me. It has always been said that children are the future, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to ocean conservation. They are the next generation of ocean stewards, and there is no better way to ignite passion than to engage students in the ocean problems of today.

One of the greatest threats our ocean faces is marine debris. While many ocean issues are extremely complex and multi-faceted, trash is a bit easier to wrap our heads around. So when Ocean Conservancy brought the problem to the attention of City Year students in Washington DC this summer, we were not disappointed. As we spoke to them about ocean trash—where it comes from and why we care about it—we were met with raised hands, impressive answers and creative ideas. Students responded with empathy and imagined innovative prevention methods that impressed even our seasoned educators. After taking students down to Anacostia National Park to get their hands dirty and participate in a trash cleanup, the enthusiasm was unprecedented. We finished, tired yet proud, posing around the 700 pounds of collected trash. The event convinced many students to swear off single-use plastic bottles forever.

It is this potential that has inspired Ocean Conservancy to develop a marine debris educational program entitled Talking Trash & Taking Action. This program, developed in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Marine Debris Program, combines concrete information along with engaging hands-on activities to teach students about marine debris and how it can be prevented. The program dives deep into the issue, covering marine debris composition and decomposition, the watershed and ocean current networks, ocean gyres and trash traps, environmental and economic impacts, and all types of prevention methods, from the individual and every day, the community-wide and unique.

Talking Trash & Taking Action is currently available for use by any and all formal and informal educators interested in teaching their students about marine debris. The program is designed so that educators can incorporate specific activities into existing curriculum or walk through the entire program step-by-step.

Join Ocean Conservancy in the fight against marine debris by leading your own educational program. Visit our website to download the Talking Trash & Taking Action program along with other helpful tools to engage youth and adults alike.

Interested in organizing a training program for the educators in your area? Contact Allison Schutes for more information. Together, we can all help to turn the tide on trash.

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Toilets Are Scary, Sharks Are Not http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/12/toilets-are-scary-sharks-are-not/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/12/toilets-are-scary-sharks-are-not/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:44 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8982

Photo: Armando Jenik

This post was written by Ocean Conservancy’s Digital Communications Intern, Maggie Tehan. Maggie is a recent graduate from Clemson University where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in Writing. When she’s not working at Ocean Conservancy, you can find Maggie expressing her biting wit on social media (pun intended), cheering on her favorite football teams, and wishing she had a permanent ocean view. 

What emotion comes to your mind when you think about sharks? For many people around the world, that emotion is fear. But why is there so much fear surrounding the topic of sharks?

Unfortunately, sharks have a well-known negative image, instilled in us by movies and news stories that continue to terrify people. The media has introduced a sense of fear in us and because of this distorted framing; sharks have been branded as villains or “man-eaters,” and have been feared and hunted for centuries. But is the media really classifying the right group as villains?

Humans fear the unknown and assumed threats, but sharks fear the legitimate perils that they face everyday. I know what you are thinking, what should sharks be afraid of? Well, it’s us. Humans threaten sharks livelihood day in and day out.  Sharks are some of the most biologically vulnerable creatures in the ocean because they grow slowly, mature late and produce few young.

In the 400 million years that sharks have roamed the ocean, they have been hunted for their meat, fins, teeth and more. Every day, 250,000 sharks are pulled out of the ocean and killed for their fins, meat and liver oil or as bycatch when they are accidentally caught in fishing nets or on hook and line. Humans slaughter more than 100 million sharks every year. Recently, overfishing has caused severe declines in shark populations.  The spiny dogfish shark, previously one of the most ample shark species in the works is now depleted off the U.S. East Coast.

Additionally, sharks face the threat of finning, the practice of cutting off the shark’s fin and tossing the carcass back into the water where they face a certain death. Shark fins are highly prized ingredients to a so-called delicacy, shark fin soup.  While shark finning has been banned in all U.S. waters, it still occurs legally in many parts of the world.

The negative media spotlight continues to hinder shark conservation efforts. Sharks are apex predators, which means they play a vital role atop the ocean food web, balancing many trophic systems. Because of this, shark conservation is crucial. The absence of sharks would threaten to affect the balance of delicate marine ecosystems that we have come to know and love.

Every year, dogs, bees, snakes, and pigs kill more people than sharks do. And in a single year in the United States, 43,000 people were injured by toilets while only 13 were wounded by sharks. That’s right—your toilet is 3,000 times more likely to hurt you than a shark.  Don’t let your misguided fear hinder shark conservation efforts and instead be educated on the legitimate risks associated with sharks.

Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. government is now protecting scalloped hammerheads under the Endangered Species Act. Scalloped hammerheads are the first shark species to ever receive such federal protections. You can do your part too, let NOAA know that you appreciate and support what they have done to protect scalloped hammerheads.

Let’s all be informed, aid conservation efforts and avoid being another shark’s nightmare.

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My Labor of Love http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/21/my-labor-of-love/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/21/my-labor-of-love/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:30:41 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8307

Colleen Rankin is a debris cleanup veteran. She lives in Blue Fox Bay, Alaska. Colleen regularly hauls debris from miles away back to her home, where she re-uses whatever she can and stores the rest for eventual disposal.

I am fortunate to live in one of the most remote locations on Earth. I have one seasonal neighbor 5 miles away and another family 25 miles from there. The closest town is 40 miles from us. All of us live on different islands separated by the powerful waters of the Gulf of Alaska. To live here is to witness the rhythm of the interdependent cycles of life on these beaches  ̶  the sea depositing kelp and seashells on the shorelines, creating what I call the line of life. We see bears, birds and other animals foraging in them. We call it the ocean’s gift of nutrition.  I have felt a part of an ancient world. But that is changing. And even here on the coast of Alaska, I’m surrounded every day by reminders of people from far away places.

That’s because the beaches near my home are literally covered in plastic, trash and netting. I take my skiff out and fill it with debris, stopping only because the boat is full to capacity. The beaches are accumulating trash at an alarming rate, and I am giving back to this beautiful place that has enriched my life so much in the most obvious way I can. And that is cleaning the beaches, sometimes the same beach over and over.

I separate the debris so that records can be kept to find out what the trash consists of. The largest growing category is plastic. Almost every piece of plastic debris I find that can fit in a bear’s mouth has bite marks on it – the bears and other animals are fascinated with plastic, and they chew it.

Every time I see a plastic bottle lying on the beautiful beach, I wonder how many of these one-use items do we use in a year? It’s a real chance for us to look at our lives as a species and ask, “What are we gaining by their use? Is it to save time? And are we actually improving our lives with that time we think we are saving?”

That’s why I think it’s so important that you and I pledge to reduce our use of plastic every day.

I used to feel like it was impossible to conquer all of this plastic and trash in the ocean, but now I’m amazed by what I’ve seen happen in the last year with the increase in awareness and the motivation of people like you to reduce the amount of plastic you use every day.

I know now that I’m not alone. Last year, 648,015 people like you volunteered at International Coastal Clean-up events across the country, and cleaned 12,329,332 pounds off of 12,910 miles of coast.

Ocean Conservancy has just released its latest Data Report, and you’d be surprised by what they’ve found! Items like straws, bottle caps and plastic bags are among the items you’ll find in the Top 10 List, and they’re all things that you and I can reduce.

I hope you’ll join me in the fight to prevent plastic pollution in our ocean. I know firsthand that every one of us can make a difference – from my home in Alaska to your town.

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Four Years Out and Counting: Taking Stock of the BP Disaster Through the Lens of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/24/four-years-out-and-counting-taking-stock-of-the-bp-disaster-through-the-lens-of-the-exxon-valdez-oil-spill/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/24/four-years-out-and-counting-taking-stock-of-the-bp-disaster-through-the-lens-of-the-exxon-valdez-oil-spill/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:00:18 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7883

This piece was co-authored by Chris Robbins, senior manager of restoration planning at Ocean Conservancy, and Bob Spies, former chief scientist for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

The first and second phases of the BP trial involving the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster are behind us. The judge is now deciding how to rule on the issues of gross negligence and amount of oil released into the ocean, while a third and final phase is set for January 2015. Yet, while the end of the courtroom drama is in sight, the genie BP let out of the bottle almost four years ago has not gone away, and questions abound. For example, how is lingering oil affecting the food web? Which impacts will remain hidden? And how long will recovery of the environment take? Answers to these questions are frustratingly elusive, especially since the results of government studies assessing environmental damage are still mostly confidential.

With the fourth anniversary of the BP disaster nearly upon us, we can look back to the March 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska for insight into the types of impacts seen four years after that oil spill and what they might mean for Gulf recovery. As Alaskans reach a significant milestone this spring – the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster – the successes and setbacks in coastal Alaska’s recovery are instructive. These insights put the Gulf’s recovery into perspective and tell us that science is the foundation of a decades-long restoration effort, and it must not be shortchanged.
Lingering Oil

Four years after the tanker Exxon Valdez belched 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, the water’s surface was largely oil-free. However, patches of asphalt-like deposits remained on area beaches and pockets of relatively “fresh” oil could be found below the surface. Residual BP oil persists, embedded in marshes, beaches and offshore sediments. When disturbed, as was the case following Tropical Storm Karen, it re-oils sensitive habitats. Lingering oil poses risks to the species and can slow recovery, either through direct re-exposure or indirectly through ingestion of contaminated prey. To this day, lingering Exxon Valdez oil is monitored on sheltered beaches in the Gulf of Alaska. The Gulf of Mexico needs a similar long-term monitoring effort to track remaining reservoirs of submerged BP oil and its food web impacts.  

Finfish Exposure and Recovery

Salmon are the most important finfish, culturally and commercially, to Alaskans. Oil from the Exxon Valdez reached about one-third of pink salmon streams in Prince William Sound. Repeated exposure of fish eggs to relatively less toxic oil slowed the recovery of pink salmon, which was not declared recovered until 1998. Another species, Pacific herring, which once supported a multimillion-dollar fishery in Prince William Sound, was another casualty of Exxon Valdez oil. In 1993, the Prince William Sound herring population crashed, the result of a perfect storm of natural and man-made factors, including Exxon Valdez oil. More than 20 years later, Pacific herring still has not recovered and is the focus of ongoing studies.

In the Gulf of Mexico, fisheries are a $5.7 billion industry. Much is still unknown about the impacts of the BP disaster on finfish or what ripple effects these might have in the ecosystem or fisheries, but new research findings give us a glimpse. Scientists found that when young bluefin tuna were exposed to crude oil from BP’s ruptured wellhead, their hearts were at greater risk of malfunctioning. The BP disaster occurred at the time bluefin were spawning, so it is possible the 2010 class took a hit. Menhaden is also a significant wild card because it is so critical to the Gulf food web. The distribution of this forage fish overlapped with the BP oil spill footprint, but scientists don’t yet know – or aren’t saying – to what degree the species was affected.

Now is the time to model best and worst case oil spill impact scenarios for finfish species of concern, like bluefin or menhaden, using the results to guide recovery strategies and help fishermen plan ahead. Long-term studies for exposed finfish similar to those for Pacific herring in Alaska are also needed.

Wildlife Exposure and Recovery

An estimated 250,000 birds were killed by the Exxon Valdez disaster. Several populations of birds, including bald eagles, had recovered by 1994, but many of those in oiled areas had not. Harbor seals may have declined by as much as 300 individuals following the disaster, continuing a declining trend first observed in 1984. Two pods of killer whales occurring in waters exposed to Exxon Valdez oil lost a combined 22 animals between 1989 and 1994, and neither pod had recovered by 1994. Many of these species have been the focus of oil spill impact studies dating back to 1989, with surveys continuing today because populations have not fully recovered.

In the Gulf of Mexico, thousands of birds representing about 100 species were recovered from the BP disaster impact area. In actuality, the total number is likely many times higher because carcasses are eaten, sink or drift away. Since the disaster, hundreds of sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins have stranded. The dolphin die-off is the longest and worst ever seen in the Gulf. We need to get to the bottom of dolphin deaths to not only arrest the trend if we can and aid their recovery, but also to determine whether conditions for dolphins in the Gulf are changing and why. Scientists need to collect data over many years in order to detect trends and understand ecological relationships. For this reason, long-term health assessments for wildlife species impacted by the BP disaster are high priorities for restoration and gauging recovery.

Recovery Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The Exxon Valdez experience taught us that recovery from oil spills can be two steps forward and one step back. Oil spill restoration is like a marathon; the process is long and pacing matters. The best way to prepare for the long haul and make periodic course corrections is to learn as much about oil spill impacts and ecosystem drivers as solid science will tell us, and respond accordingly. Tracking the health of an ever-changing Gulf is as important for restoration as regular checkups are for people, even more so for those recovering from an illness. Without a finger on the Gulf’s pulse and understanding how changes in this body of water affect recovering species, the right diagnosis or decisions about this or that species cannot be made. We need dedicated Gulf-wide monitoring for a minimum of 25 years to track recovery from the BP disaster. If there is one lesson we have learned from the Exxon Valdez disaster, it is that good science is the glove that fits around the hand of restoration.

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Challenges of a Changing Ocean: Can Congress Act in Time? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/04/challenges-of-a-changing-ocean-can-congress-act-in-time/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/04/challenges-of-a-changing-ocean-can-congress-act-in-time/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 18:44:22 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7073

Credit: NOAA


The piece below was excerpted from an article by Tom Allen in Roll Call. Allen is the president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and a Board member of Ocean Conservancy. He represented Maine’s 1st District in Congress for six terms and was a founding member of the House Oceans Caucus.


 

In a Congress marred by gridlock and partisan brinkmanship, a surprising opportunity has emerged to strengthen our nation’s ocean and coastal communities, businesses and environment. Congress should seize the moment and establish the long-recommended National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes.

Unless Congress acts now, the opportunity will slip away.

The House and Senate Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) bills currently in conference contain competing provisions — with competing visions — for the future of ocean and coastal management in America. This legislative conflict is part of our country’s broader ideological struggle, but with this difference: On the ocean, no state government, chamber of commerce or environmental group can exercise coordinated and effective leadership alone.

The WRDA conferees and Congress should choose thoughtful long-term engagement to protect and enhance ocean quality over the all-too-common knee-jerk hostility toward any new government initiative.

Ironically, ocean issues didn’t generate such partisan conflict until recently. As a founding member of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus, I can say that working across the aisle on ocean issues used to be far more commonplace. For example, the idea of a permanent ocean endowment was proposed back in 2004 by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy — a commission appointed entirely by President George W. Bush. When the commission first floated the idea of an ocean trust fund in a draft report and asked governors for comment, support was overwhelming and bipartisan. Of the 20 coastal governors who submitted comments on an ocean trust fund, 19 supported the idea — six Democrats and 13 Republicans. Only one Democratic governor expressed any opposition.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

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Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/02/swimming-the-strait-of-gibraltar/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/02/swimming-the-strait-of-gibraltar/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 16:31:38 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7043

Bret Barasch Swimming the Strait of Gibraltar

We’re excited to post this guest blog from Bret Barasch. He swam solo across the Strait of Gibraltar and chose Ocean Conservancy as the recipient of his fundraising efforts – thank you! Congrats to Bret on this amazing accomplishment. You can still donate to Bret’s fundraising efforts today.

This past October, I set out to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar. The strait connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco (and Europe from Africa). It’s about 10 miles across, but the strong current that flows in from the Atlantic almost always ensures you’ll end up swimming farther.

A little background on how I got to this point:

While I swam competitively throughout my teen years and even lifeguarded for a few summers on the South Shore of Long Island, N.Y., I really stopped any serious swimming once I got to college. Fast forward about 20 years (without much athletic activity to speak of) and I suddenly had a desire to get back out there and get active again (like triathlons or something). Knowing my swimming background, a friend sent me a link to the Top 100 Open Water Swims around the world.

Going through the list and all the different types of swims, I knew I had found something challenging. While I was never a distance swimmer in my younger years, I felt that with the proper training, I just might be able to do this.

I started my training in May of this year and slowly increased the distance of my swims from about two miles all the way up to eight miles come September. (In retrospect, I wish I had trained a bit more, because the conditions on the day of my swim turned out to be more difficult than expected… more on that later).

Doing my research for the swim (including blogs of other swimmers who had successfully crossed the strait), I came across lots of interesting information. First off, due to the fact that the strait is a very busy shipping lane with many container ships, the association that oversees the swim only allows one cross per day. That cross can be a solo attempt (like mine) or as a relay team. Also, due to the varying weather conditions (fog, current, wind, waves, etc.), each swimmer gets a window of one week to pick the best day to make their attempt.

Luckily, the marine life in the strait tends to be friendly with dolphins and pilot whales being the most common.

I arrived in Tarifa, the southernmost town on the Spanish mainland, a couple of days before my window. All of the forecasts pointed to the best conditions early in the week, so I was told within 24 hours of arriving that I’d be going ‘first thing tomorrow’ on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

I arrived at the dock the next morning at 7:30 to meet my boat crews. Due to regulations with the maritime authorities, each swimmer (or relay team) must have a guide or lead boat that charts the best route for the swimmer to follow, as well as a safety boat that just focuses on the safety of the swimmer.

We headed out from the marina just before sunrise, with the sky still a very dark blue. About two minutes before I was to jump in the water and swim to the Spanish coast for the start, the safety boat had a fuel line problem and the engine wouldn’t restart. The boat had to head back to the dock for quick repairs. (In hindsight, I’m actually grateful this happened when it did, instead of half an hour into my swim!) The fuel line was quickly fixed and it was back out to the start. This time, I swam to the coast and waited for the whistle to begin.

I will not bore you with the play-by-play of a six-hour-plus swim, but I will tell you that the first half went… well… swimmingly. I had reached the halfway point of the strait in a little less than three hours and was feeling good.

During the course of my research, I discovered that the perceived wisdom was to stop every 45 minutes for a ‘fuel’ break (electrolyte drink, energy goo, etc.). During these breaks, I wasn’t allowed to touch the boat, but they could throw me the drinks and goo packs, which I would consume while treading water. In my training, my breaks were two minutes long, but due to the strength of the current, I was constantly being encouraged to not stop longer than 30 seconds (which felt like the blink of an eye).

As I continued toward the Moroccan coast, I noticed the waves getting larger, the current getting stronger and, most worryingly, the temperature of the water starting to drop.

The last two miles were the toughest and I quickly realized why I was struggling so much. My safety boat captain informed me that due to the increased strength of the current, I had already swum 13 miles (about two more than I had planned for the entire swim) and with all the combined factors working against me, and my body weakening, I was questioning whether I could finish.

The best analogy I can come up with is if you were running a marathon and then unexpectedly had the last six miles up hill and in brutal heat (‘unexpectedly’ being the key word).

I decided to skip my last break and just put my head down and finish. Somehow I made it through and I was able to reach the Moroccan coast in 6 hours, 26 minutes (having swum a total distance of 13.5 miles). I remember the mixed feelings very well – physically my body close to broken, but mentally an amazing sense of euphoria, knowing I had just swam from one continent to the other.

As with any event like this, I wanted to choose a worthy cause to raise money for and I decided on Ocean Conservancy. Its mission, and inspired yet practical way of achieving it, resonated with me and seemed to fit with my swim perfectly.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me through this great adventure. It’s been an amazing and truly humbling experience.

Bret Barasch Reaching the Moroccan Coast

 

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Ocean Planning Makes Sense http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/07/ocean-planning-makes-sense/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/07/ocean-planning-makes-sense/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 21:49:49 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6937 Two men fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

Photo: Tom McCann / Ocean Conservancy

The piece below was excerpted from an article by Rip Cunningham on the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) Blog. Cunningham is the former chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council. He is also Conservation Editor for Saltwater Sportsman magazine, of which he was publisher and editor-in-chief for 31 years. 

While the piece expresses concern about some aspects of ocean-use planning, it makes a formidable case for the need to engage in it. Ocean Conservancy believes that smart ocean planning is important for balancing all of the interests in our ocean, so we welcome this kind of discussion.

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I know that some in the recreational fishing industry think that “ocean planning” is part of the great conspiracy to totally eliminate extractive activities like recreational or commercial fishing. They feel that this process is simply “ocean zoning” intent on removing fishing.

Maybe it is and I am just too naive to see it, but there are too many signs pointing in other directions. First, I don’t believe in the great conspiracy theory, and secondly, I think that doing some real planning makes a whole lot of sense, and I understand that in that process there will be winners and losers.

The best description, in my opinion, of how ocean planning should work is found on Sea Plan’s, an independent ocean planning policy group, website: “Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) aims to distribute and accommodate both traditional and emerging ocean activities to produce sustainable economic and social benefits while minimizing spatial conflicts and environmental impacts. CMSP is an iterative process that uses the best available science along with stakeholder input to support integrated, adaptable and forward-looking ocean management decision-making.”

The part of the process that I find objectionable is the building of more bureaucracy to complete this task. There are already agencies at the federal, regional and state level that deal with these issues. Do we need several layers of bureaucracy just to get these organizations to play in the sandbox together?

In any case, here in New England, we have the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), which appears to be a regional version of the National Ocean Council (NOC). However, it was organized by the Northeast governors about five years prior to NOC, which was established under an executive order from President Obama and likely the genesis of the anti-ocean planning movement.

Many feel that this was merely an end run around the failed legislation called Oceans 21. Again, maybe it was, but that does not negate the need for some real thinking about how we use our ocean. Things such as renewable energy development, at-sea LNG terminals, pipeline construction, ocean mining, etc. are going to happen. In comparison to those industries, fishing doesn’t stand a chance. We would be road kill on the developmental highway without some controlling structure.

While I don’t happen to believe that it is enough, fishing does have some representation at the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) level. This is through a representative from the New England Fishery Management Council sitting at the RPB table. Yes, fishing is just one voice among many, but without any representation, there would be no chance.

Recently, a coalition of marine interests including SeaPlan, representatives of the boating industry, New England states and the state of New York, U.S. Coast Guard and NROC conducted a survey titled Northeast Recreational Boating Survey. This effort was designed to get stakeholder input on how boaters use the Northeast waters. It was a very comprehensive survey that got input from 12,000 participants.

The survey shows the importance of boaters who generated $3.5 billion in economic activity. A much older survey conducted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) indicated that 75 percent of all powerboats were used for fishing at some point. I don’t know if that holds true today, but it indicates fishing is still a substantial part of this economic engine. The take home message is that NROC is concerned about the recreational fishing industry and how it fits into the planning process.

I am also aware of efforts that are being taken to reach out to individual anglers to get their input into the process. These are being developed as this is written. NROC also has made an effort to include the party/charter fishing industry as well. If they had no interest in the fishing industry, I doubt they would make this level of effort to include stakeholder input.

While there are and will continue to be concerns about the whole coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) area, the idea that this is simply an underhanded plan to end all fishing just doesn’t carry any water (pun intended). As users we need to be involved with this type of planning and we need to try to make sure that our access to marine resources is not compromised.

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