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.
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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.
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Photo credit: Heal The Bay flickr page
Recently, I told you about the opportunity that Congress now has to create a National Endowment for the Oceans (NEO) and safeguard the existing National Ocean Policy (NOP). The heat is on, as the members of Congress that will decide the fate of these provisions in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) convened last week. Since then, the chorus of voices calling for Congress to take these vital steps to protect our ocean has grown exponentially.
More than 74 diving groups, dive shops and individual divers – including prominent figures such as Sylvia Earle and Ocean Conservancy Board Member Philippe Cousteau – sent a letter to the WRDA conferees today. Here’s an excerpt:
“As divers, we see firsthand the incredible beauty and, too often, the increasing burden our oceans face.… The WRDA conference will consider two provisions that significantly impact our nation’s oceans and coasts and the economies that rely on them. We support the Senate-passed National Endowment for the Oceans, which would help improve ocean health and maximize the economic benefits these resources provide our nation. We oppose the House-passed Flores rider, which would place damaging restrictions on the use of common-sense ocean management tools like ocean planning and ecosystem-based management found in our National Ocean Policy. To maximize the benefits of a healthy ocean and its vibrant economy, we urge you to include the NEO provision and strike the Flores rider from WRDA.”
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Credit: Alec Perkins
Two ocean experts went head to head this week over the value and environmental impact of creating large no-take zones – such as Australia’s recently designated 500,000-km2 no-take area in the Coral Sea. They took part in an online debate on Tuesday Oct. 8, which was sponsored by OpenChannels.org, MPA News, and the EBM Tools Network.
In one corner was Callum Roberts, a professor of marine conservation biology at York University (UK), who argued that the total environmental impact of large no-take areas is positive.
In the other corner was Ray Hilborn, a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, who argued that the total environmental impact of large no-take areas may be negative due to the need to make up food production in another way, either at sea or on land.
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Photo: Matt Zimmerman via Flickr
Rose George’s recent book, “Ninety Percent of Everything,” offers an outsider’s look inside an immensely important, but remarkably obscure industry. George is a stranger on a strange sea, but she is able to enter deeply into the world of the shipping industry in a short time.
Her writing is clear, elegant and direct, making even discussions of shipping’s many acronyms and abbreviations—TEUs, UNCLOS, IMO, MARPOL, ECDIS—compelling.
George brings the personal into a world that has grown ever more distant and impersonal. She gains her entry into the closed world of shipping by traveling as a “supernumerary,” a working guest (her book is the work) on the Maersk Kendal.
She also joins a European Union Naval Force vessel, the Vasco de Gama, to see firsthand the international efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.
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Last year, over 550,000 volunteers from all over the world participated in our International Coastal Cleanup. From the beaches of New Orleans to Bangladesh, each location is so distinct and the volunteers so incredibly diverse. But one thing we see no matter where we are is teens motivated to take action and fight trash.
Whether they come along with a parent or with a fleet of friends, our young volunteers are always excited to document their weird finds, to learn how they can reduce their impact and to spread word to their friends about turning the tide on ocean trash. We often hear young people declared lazy and apathetic by the generation before them, but the enthusiasm we see every year is a testament to the fact that teens are capable of doing amazing things.
That’s why our friends at Do Something have started The Hunt: 11 Days of Doing to challenge more teens and young people to take action to support a healthy environment and learn to consume less. By giving teens 11 ways they can improve their community over 11 days, The Hunt helps transform their habits by teaching them ways to reduce their waste.
Challenge a teen you know to make a difference and join Do Something in the Hunt. Beyond reducing your own impact, teaching the next generation of ocean lovers, decision makers and beach-goers that a healthy ocean begins with them is one of the best ways to ensure that it remains protected for the future.
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