Author Kara Lankford and her mother Toni Lankford, one of the women who inspires her in her work. Courtesy Kara Lankford.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating stand out #WomeninConservtion all week long. Here, Kara Lankford, Interim Director of our Gulf Restoration Program reflects on conservation leaders in Alabama. This piece originally appeared on AL.com.
Check back every day for new blogs, and don’t forget to join our Twitter chat today, March 8th, at 1 pm EST!
I was put on the path to protect the incredible beauty and natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico by the most inspiring and influential woman in my life—my mother Toni Lankford.
On long, rambling walks in the woods, she would point out different plant species and trees and what liked to eat them. She taught me that everything plays a different role in nature and is absolutely necessary to the ecosystem, even venomous snakes!
UPDATED: This blog was updated with new information on March 16, 2017
Early morning on March 16, 2017, the Trump Administration released its proposed budget—often called the skinny budget—that alarmingly confirms what The Washington Post reported about the devastating cuts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Today, we learned that the budget for the Department of Commerce, which houses NOAA, would be cut by $1.5 billion. While the proposal lacks some specifics about NOAA’s budget, it makes clear that at least $250 million in grants and programs that support coastal and marine management, research, and education including Sea Grant would be zeroed out. The administration recognizes that these programs primarily benefit local stakeholder, industry and state– and they are cutting it out anyway.
Based on what we already know, NOAA faces a massive overall cut of $990 million to their operating budget. Cuts on this scale aren’t just “trimming the fat” to make the agency more efficient. They’re cutting straight to the bone.
A system upgrade that will help ensure there are plenty of fish in the sea.
There are many ways to have a good day out on the water. The ocean gives us endless opportunities to find joy, exhilaration and happiness—playing on the beach, snorkeling, diving and fishing. Most recreational fishermen I know measure their good days by the number and size of fish they’ve reeled in. But it turns out those numbers are important for another reason, too—that’s critical data that ensures there are plenty of fish left for not just for your next trip but also for your kids’ and their grandkids’ trips.
Recreational fishing is a big deal in areas like the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic. That means a lot of folks are out on the water and those coolers of fish start to add up. In 2015, 8.9 million saltwater anglers took 61 million fishing trips in U.S. waters. This industry is responsible for driving $60 billion in sales impacts into coastal communities through purchases like fishing trips and equipment, spending in hotels and restaurants.
Greetings from New Orleans, where I’m excited to bring you some great news about the recreational fishery! After years of careful analysis and deliberation, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council embraced change and voted unanimously to bring the charter for-hire fishery—which is made up of vessels operated by professional fishermen who take paying customers out fishing—into the Digital Age.
Yesterday’s decision directs the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop an electronic logbook reporting system for the charter boat fleet in the Gulf. Electronic logbooks are devices—some no bigger than a smartphone—that charter captains use to record their day’s catch and send it directly to managers.
As a result, accurate tracking and monitoring of fish caught by charter boats will be captured in a fast and reliable way—improving the management of our nation’s fisheries.
It’s a new year, and I resolve to continue championing for ocean conservation in 2017—no matter how the tides may change in Washington, D.C. Will you help me?
This week, Rex Tillerson, nominee for Secretary of State, will begin Senate confirmation hearings. As Mr. Tillerson is questioned by senators about his qualifications for the job, we want to make sure he’s asked about the ocean.
For Mr. Tillerson’s entire career, he’s worked for a single company—ExxonMobil. As Exxon’s CEO, he was obligated to work for the interests of Exxon’s shareholders.
In recent months, two young sperm whales stranded themselves along the coast of Louisiana. These events highlight the importance for quality health and diagnostic information for the marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. What could kill one of the greatest predators to ever exist on earth?
At the time, the scientific records of monitoring efforts in the Gulf of Mexico was dispersed across many entities from universities, natural resource management agencies, private industries to non-governmental organizations. In most cases monitoring systems were developed independently, often narrowed to specific questions, such as how many oysters should be harvested and how many should be left in the water?