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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy



Divers and Ocean Advocates Across the Country Speak Out for NEO, NOP

Posted On November 27, 2013 by

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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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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A Chance to Start Paying the Ocean Back

Posted On May 8, 2013 by

credit — Architect of the Capitol

UPDATE:  Good news! The Senate voted this afternoon FOR the National Endowment for the Oceans amendment with a bipartisan vote of 68-31.  Read on for more information.

Votes are taking place in the Senate today that could play an important role in the future of clean water and our ocean.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Superstorm Sandy, and the influx of marine debris from the Japanese tsunami have focused the American public on the ecological and economic value of our ocean and coastal resources like never before. Whether your interest is in protecting species like marine mammals and sea turtles, providing opportunities for beachgoing and recreational fishing, or supporting vibrant coastal communities, a healthy ocean matters. Given the environmental and economic importance of marine and coastal ecosystems, we should be investing more in monitoring, researching, protecting and restoring the vitality of these systems. We should be facilitating their ability to adapt to long-term change and their resilience so that they can better recover when disasters happen, whether man-made or natural.

The National Endowment for the Oceans and Great Lakes (NEO) is going to be voted on this afternoon as an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act or WRDA (S. 601).   Ocean Conservancy has serious concerns with WRDA as currently written, and efforts are being made to improve the bill.  While that it is happening, it is vital that we take the opportunity to underscore the importance of the National Endowment for the Oceans.

The NEO amendment would create a permanent federal endowment that, once funded, would provide a steady funding stream that states, universities, communities, and government agencies can count on to support ocean and Great Lakes research and restoration projects.  These investments will ensure that present and future generations benefit from the ecological, economic, educational, social, cultural, spiritual, nutritional, and recreational resources of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.

Here are a few key facts about the National Endowment for the Oceans:

  • The endowment would be administered by the Secretary of Commerce and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
  • The endowment would distribute funds through two grant programs for activities to restore, protect, maintain, or understand the resources of the ocean, coasts and Great Lakes.
  • The grant programs include formula grants to coastal and Great Lakes states, and a nationally competitive grant program.

The grant programs established in the Endowment would fund projects to restore, protect, maintain and understand U.S, oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, including:

  • Restoration of wetlands, coral reefs, sea grass beds and watersheds
  • Mapping, monitoring, observation and modeling of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes systems
  • Adaptation to the impacts of climate change and mitigation of coastal hazards, including infrastructure protection
  • Research and monitoring of ocean acidification, hypoxia and harmful algal blooms
  • Conservation of sensitive marine, coastal and Great Lakes species and their habitat
  • Baseline data collection, ecosystem assessments and mapping for use in planning for new sustainable ocean uses and protecting ecosystem health
  • Planning for sustainable coastal development