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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Effective Ocean Planning Needs to Be Coast-to-Coast, Not Beach-to-Beach

Posted On March 14, 2014 by

Over the last week, I’ve been discussing what coastal and marine spatial planning (“smart ocean planning”) is, what we would need to do to make smart ocean planning work, and what regions of our country have already started the process of making smart ocean planning a reality. In this last installment of our video series, I want to discuss the National Ocean Policy and what’s happening in the United States at the federal level.

Smart ocean planning is a bottom-up process, but it still needs federal support. Coastal states and the federal government each have jurisdiction over their own individual portions of the ocean, and the rules as you move across jurisdictions can both vary greatly and conflict with each other. Because of this, increasing coordination between state governments, the federal government and the stakeholders using the ocean is essential. Without a collaborative process that brings all the relevant players to the table, our decision-making will be disjointed and ineffective in ensuring a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren.

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Does the 2014 Budget Bill Support a Healthy Ocean?

Posted On January 18, 2014 by

Photo: NOAA

This week, Congress reached a compromise on a budget bill for fiscal year 2014. But does the bill support a healthy ocean? Let’s just say, if the bill were a marine biology student, it would need to get a tutor.

In the months since last October’s costly government shutdown, Congress has been busily debating how to go forward on major funding issues. Naturally, Ocean Conservancy is concerned with making sure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – and ocean-related programs in general – will receive adequate money. In the beginning stages of the debate last year, we laid out three critical questions that would determine whether the bill was good for the ocean. When the House of Representatives and the Senate each passed their versions of the bill, we graded them based on these questions.

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Ocean Champion to Depart White House as Accomplishments Are in Jeopardy

Posted On December 3, 2013 by

Today, President Obama announced that Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), will step down in February. Obama hasn’t named a successor yet, but that person will have sea-size shoes to fill – because Ms. Sutley has been a true champion for the ocean.

Ironically, the announcement of her departure comes as certain members of Congress are working to undermine one of her most important accomplishments: the National Ocean Policy (NOP).

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The Most Important Congressional Action on the Ocean You’ve Never Heard of

Posted On November 15, 2013 by

Aerial view of San Miguel Island of the Channel Islands, California

Photo: Jonathan Hubbell / Photo Contest 2011

Right now, Congress has a major opportunity to protect our ocean and coasts. It can create a National Endowment for the Oceans and safeguard the existing National Ocean Policy in one fell swoop.

How? Well, it’s a tale of two bills.

The House and the Senate both recently passed versions of a bill called the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), but their versions are different. The Senate version would establish a National Endowment for the Oceans (NEO), which would expand scientific research, provide planning and resource management, restore habitat and much more. Conversely, the House version not only fails to establish this endowment, it guts the existing National Ocean Policy (NOP) that ensures smart use of ocean resources.

Soon, a committee made up of members of Congress from both chambers will come together in a “conference” to combine the two bills into a single final version. The ocean will either get a big win or suffer a big loss.

What’s at stake?

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Straight A’s for the Senate on NOAA Funding

Posted On July 24, 2013 by

cut up $100 bill

Photo: Tax Credits via Flickr

The House of Representatives did not do very well when I gave them grades last week on their answers to three key questions about funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Senate has released their funding proposal—let’s see if they did any better:

1. NOAA’s topline budget: does it cover the costs?         GRADE: A

The Senate’s proposal would fund NOAA at $5.6 billion, $150 million above the President’s request for next year. That extra $150 million would go to mitigating the effects of fishery disasters declared around the country. The rest of the $5.4 billion closely aligns with the President’s request, targeting important programs like ocean acidification for long overdue funding increases.

Adequate funding for NOAA is critically important to the health of our nation’s ocean and coasts, and the economies and communities that depend on them. The truth is we need to be investing in these vital programs at significantly higher levels. However, in this fiscal climate, providing funding above the level requested by the President’s budget is a significant step.

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Happy Anniversary to Vital Ocean Policy

Posted On July 20, 2013 by

humpback whale breach

Credit: Phil Wrobel / Photo Contest

It was just three years ago yesterday that President Obama signed the Executive Order establishing the National Ocean Policy. We’ve come a long way so far, and we are starting to realize the policy’s considerable promise.

As I’ve written about before, the National Ocean Policy and the subsequent Implementation Plan are historically significant. President Obama recognized that a healthy ocean is a productive ocean and thus established the policy to ensure that we work together to balance use and conservation.

This policy directly addresses the key challenge of our time: how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. The ocean, of course, is at the center of every aspect of this challenge—food, energy, climate and protection of our natural resources.

Our ability to manage impacts on the ocean will make a crucial difference in making this planet work for 9 billion people. As the ocean is asked to provide in so many ways, it is inevitable that we need to prioritize, coordinate and optimize. That’s where the National Ocean Policy—a set of common-sense principles to help protect our ocean resources—comes in.

This anniversary offers an opportunity to look ahead. Read more at National Geographic’s News Watch blog.

A New Ocean Champion in the Senate

Posted On July 17, 2013 by

Credit: U.S. Senate Photo Studio

Few members of Congress past or present have done more for ocean conservation than Ed Markey. During four decades in the House of Representatives, then-Congressman Markey fought for and achieved significant environmental victories.

Following his recent win in the Massachusetts special election, we wanted to highlight how the Bay State Democrat, and the newest senator, has been an ocean champion throughout his career: Continue reading »