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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Partnering with zoos, aquariums and museums on ocean education is not exactly what you would call a job-killing initiative or international plot to take over the ocean. And yet, this is how critics have billed the National Ocean Policy.
Under the Policy, government agencies are encouraged to “increase ocean and coastal literacy by expanding the accessibility and use of ocean content in formal and informal educational programming for students.” By teaming up with kid-friendly institutions like aquariums, zoos and museums, agencies like NOAA can provide the latest, cutting-edge ocean science for teachers, students and the general public. But Congressional attacks against the National Ocean Policy might threaten these kinds of non-controversial services – even though most of these services long pre-date the National Ocean Policy itself.
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How are you spending your first day of summer? We prefer celebrating our ocean--not fighting against it. Credit: Heal the Bay Flickr stream
How are you celebrating the first official day of summer? Some lawmakers in Washington are doing so by actually fighting against vital protections for our ocean, including the National Ocean Policy.
The National Ocean Policy coordinates the activities of more than 20 federal agencies. Most of these vital services already exist, like preventing and cleaning up ocean trash. Particularly now, with West Coast states’ concerns with tsunami debris, coordination is as important as ever. This ocean policy is a way to untangle and streamline the web of existing ocean regulations – more than 140 laws – in order to protect coastal communities and the economy.
But some lawmakers continue attempts to block implementation of the National Ocean Policy. Continue reading »