The Blog Aquatic » NOP http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Divers and Ocean Advocates Across the Country Speak Out for NEO, NOP http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/27/divers-and-ocean-advocates-across-the-country-speak-out-for-neo-nop/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/27/divers-and-ocean-advocates-across-the-country-speak-out-for-neo-nop/#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:57:09 +0000 Emily Woglom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7011

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.”


These divers share a common belief that everyone benefits from a healthy and productive ocean. Few people witness the threats that our ocean faces more intimately than divers do every time they go below the surface. From ocean acidification’s effect on corals and shellfish to the staggering scope of the marine debris problem to the shifting of marine life due to rising ocean temperatures, divers see these impacts firsthand. They know that we badly need the smart ocean-use planning that the NOP facilitates and the funding for critical ocean research and restoration that the NEO would provide.

The diving community’s letter joins another letter sent to the WRDA conferees last week from Ocean Conservancy and more than 200 organizations and individuals from around the nation stressing the need for the conference committee to get this bill right.

We’ll continue to monitor the progress of WRDA as the conference committee meets in the coming days and weeks, but it’ll take a concerted effort from ocean advocates across the country to ensure that Congress establishes NEO and stands strong in supporting the NOP. You can add your voice to the hundreds who have already weighed in here.

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The Most Important Congressional Action on the Ocean You’ve Never Heard of http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/15/the-most-important-congressional-action-on-the-ocean-youve-never-heard-of/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/15/the-most-important-congressional-action-on-the-ocean-youve-never-heard-of/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 13:00:07 +0000 Emily Woglom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6955 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?

Following the recommendations of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, NEO would invest in our ocean’s future. The endowment authorizes grants to state, regional and tribal entities as well as academic institutions and nonprofit organizations to support ocean and Great Lakes research and restoration projects such as:

  • 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 habitats
  • 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

To put the importance of this work into perspective, consider that scientists estimate that we’ve explored less than 5 percent of the ocean, that 91 percent of ocean species remain undiscovered, and that we have better maps of the surface of Mars than we do of the United States’ territorial ocean waters.

Moreover, NEO’s investments would create jobs and support coastal economies. They would also ensure that present and future generations benefit from the ecological, economic, educational, social, cultural, spiritual, nutritional and recreational resources of our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes.

Then, there’s the NOP. When it comes to making decisions that impact our ocean, every tool should be on the table for gathering and sharing information. The NOP is one of those vital, common-sense tools. It allows the entities responsible for ocean use planning to coordinate with each other, increasing efficiency and reducing redundancy.

The NOP also pushes ocean and coastal management out to the regional level, putting ocean management decisions in the hands of on-the-ground people and businesses that will be impacted by ocean management decisions. In the words of Sen. Edward Markey, opposing the National Ocean Policy is like opposing air traffic control.

Attacks on the NOP have ranged from hyperbolic to hysterical, with the latest one coming in the form of an amendment to WRDA offered by Rep. Bill Flores, who is not from a coastal district.

The “Flores rider” attempts to block full implementation of the NOP. It would prohibit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a key coastal and ocean management agency, from coordinating with coastal states, other federal agencies and the public as they engage in smart ocean planning.

Banning coordination between the Corps and these entities is misguided. Smart ocean planning is currently being used by several states – from Massachusetts to Oregon – with great success. Imposing such an arbitrary restriction harms states, the Army Corps, and the ocean and coastal economy.

A healthy ocean provides employment, direct economic benefits, recreation, wildlife habitat, cultural identity and indirect economic services like protection from natural disaster. Ocean Conservancy staff members are working hard on Capitol Hill to make sure the final bill is a win for the ocean and the people who rely on it. You can help by telling your member of Congress to support the National Endowment for the Oceans and oppose the anti-National Ocean Policy Flores rider in the WRDA bill.

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Supporting the Ocean Means Supporting the National Ocean Policy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/20/supporting-the-ocean-means-supporting-the-national-ocean-policy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/20/supporting-the-ocean-means-supporting-the-national-ocean-policy/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 19:37:44 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1143

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. Their latest move is to include language barring funds for the National Ocean Policy in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill – among other hits to our nation’s environmental protections. This is an extreme move considering the possible implications. Prohibiting the Policy could hinder much of the day-to-day information and services that your states and local communities have come to rely on.

On these latest efforts to block the National Ocean Policy, Ocean Conservancy’s Emily Woglom, director of government relations, said:

“It is unfortunate that critics are playing knee-jerk politics with an ocean policy that’s about saving time, money and the source of livelihood for millions of Americans.  This is about ensuring that our natural resources are used efficiently and effectively so our coastal economies, now and in the future, flourish.

“Attacks on ocean protections are hyperbolic at best, hysterical at worst.  Blocking funding now will jeopardize existing jobs and important services.”

Emily has been spreading the word on how the National Ocean Policy helps both the economy and your local community.  She’s not alone – even the New York Times editorial board weighed in. But if this is the first you’re hearing of the Policy, you’re not alone.

If you support the ocean, you should support the National Ocean Policy. It’s a common sense plan that’s good for the American economy, jobs and communities.

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Are U.S. Ocean Protections at Risk? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/08/are-u-s-ocean-protections-at-risk/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/08/are-u-s-ocean-protections-at-risk/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 15:24:25 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=410 It’s common sense–tourists are more likely to go to a clean beach. Offshore energy companies need the latest data and maps to make the most accurate plans for successful development. Right now, Federal ocean programs are spread across more than 20 different agencies that often work independently of each other.

That’s why we need a common sense National Ocean Policy that coordinates these different ocean programs in order to both use and protect the ocean in the best possible ways. But some lawmakers are attacking the policy with extremist rhetoric.

Our Government Relations Director Emily Woglom recently weighed in on the benefits of the National Ocean Policy and the misleading attempts to block it.

You can help by calling your Representative today and asking him or her to vote against any attempt to block the National Ocean Policy.

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