The Blog Aquatic » election News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Four Things the Election Tells us about the Ocean’s Future Wed, 07 Nov 2012 20:17:48 +0000 Guest Blogger As the dust begins to settle after what felt like a never-ending election season, Ocean Conservancy is gearing up for our policy work to begin again in earnest. Our approach isn’t about which party is in charge, it’s about finding solutions for a healthy ocean, wherever they may come from. Here are a few initial reactions and issues to be on the lookout for following the 2012 election:

1. President Obama is good news for the Ocean. In his first term, President Obama established America’s first National Ocean Policy, calling for a forward-thinking, cooperative and pro-conservation approach to the decisions we make about the ocean. His positions on science-based conservation, ending overfishing, rebuilding depleted fish populations, and clean energy are all things we can look forward to in a second term. We can expect that under President Obama agencies like NOAA, Interior and EPA will continue to be true ocean defenders if Congress gives them the resources they need to succeed. Granted there is room for improvement in the Arctic.

2. No one benefits from politicizing the ocean. The President can’t save the ocean on his own. And the still-split Congress means there’s a chance for more gridlock. Because a healthy ocean means a healthy economy, there’s no good reason to politicize ocean conservation. Just last week we were talking about the Washington Post’s look at how ocean policy has begun to creep into electoral politics in some places.

3. We need more ocean heroes.  We are very pleased to see strong voices for the ocean like Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island win reelection.  But we also saw the retirement of some ocean defenders this year, like Senator Olympia Snowe and Congressman Norm Dicks. One way or another, funding for ocean programs will be under the microscope in Congress.  Retirements and committee term limits means there will be a game of musical chairs going on to determine who gets the chance to lead on ocean issues on Capitol Hill.  We need to convince leaders in both parties to stand up for the ocean and it’s never too early to tell your public officials you care about a healthy ocean.

4. We need to put on our hip waders and roll up our sleeves. More than two years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, there is still a staggering amount of work to be done. Congress passed, and the President signed a plan to direct BP’s Clean Water Act fines to Gulf restoration, but that money doesn’t become available until there is a resolution of the case against BP, either through trial or a settlement.  And now large areas of the East Coast are facing a prolonged recovery period from the super-storm Sandy. The storm was a stark reminder of the fragility of our coastlines and the importance of making smart decisions about where to develop and what to protect on our coasts. Fisheries disasters were declared in New England, Mississippi, and Alaska — across the country we are ending overfishing and rebuilding depleted fish populations but there is still work to be done to ensure a prosperous future for fish and fishermen.

The elections, of course, matter. But in many ways our game plan would be the same regardless of who won. The ocean is facing unprecedented challenges, and continues to provide unprecedented opportunities for a thriving country and healthy planet.  What’s mentioned here is simply the tip of the iceberg. We will mobilize citizen advocates to facilitate change and protect the ocean for future generations. We are committed to supporting efforts that benefit the people who depend on the ocean for food, jobs and recreation. We will champion the best in science-based solutions to tackle the largest ocean conservation challenges we face. And we will partner with unexpected allies to develop cross-cutting innovations that lead to lasting change.

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Nobody Benefits From Politicizing The Ocean Sat, 03 Nov 2012 16:09:16 +0000 Guest Blogger

Ocean protection should not be a political divider. Mitt Romney has said: “Our ocean waters are vulnerable to unplanned development. We want to avoid a Wild West shootout, where projects are permitted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.” Credit: Jason Verwey flickr stream

Over the past week, Hurricane Sandy has surged through the Caribbean and South Atlantic, slammed into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast and affected over 60 million people across the Eastern Seaboard. With the flooding of thousands of homes, power outages sweeping the region, and first responders diligently responding to communities’ needs, this storm serves as a stark reminder that environmental impacts are not confined to political boundaries.

Effective policy should not be, either.

This week, the Washington Post examined the fervent bullying faced by the National Ocean Policy over the course of this election year and its role as a battleground for polarized election-year fights. Critics attempted to block funding for its implementation, claiming the policy served as an executive power grab, lacking in stakeholder involvement and increasing in bureaucratic red tape. However, blocking implementation of the National Ocean Policy could restrict agencies already struggling to maintain services vital to the health of our coastal communities, and will exacerbate conflicts between interests competing for space in our nation’s waters.

It’s worth noting that supporting the ocean through a stronger and more effective ocean policy has historically attracted bipartisan support. In 2004 President George W. Bush released the U.S. Ocean Action Plan recognizing the “challenge in developing management strategies” for our coastal and ocean waters, and expressed the need for systematic coordination. And under Mitt Romney, Massachusetts pioneered legislation to create a comprehensive planning process for state ocean waters. Romney declared: “Our ocean waters are vulnerable to unplanned development. We want to avoid a Wild West shootout, where projects are permitted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.” With this insight and by engaging stakeholders from all sectors and various levels of government, Massachusetts created simple and effective solutions to balance competing interests and allow business to move forward.

Failing to implement a coordinated, science-based, participatory ocean policy hinders maritime industries and unnecessarily risks the health of our marine environment and coastal communities. Energy developers, port authorities, fishermen, shippers, our armed forces and members of both political parties all recognize this.

And as our nation seeks solutions for protecting our increasingly vulnerable coastlines, it is imperative to establish a framework that prioritizes coastal restoration, balances competing interests and informs decision-making to protect our natural resources and maritime heritage. As Boston University biologist Les Kaufman said: “The whole concept of national ocean policy is to maximize the benefit and minimize the damage. What’s not to love?”

With this in mind, we reiterate to our political leaders preparing for next week’s election and the coming 113th Congress: what’s so scary about a national ocean policy? 

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