The Blog Aquatic » ocean policy 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 How Members of Congress are Taking Action on Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/23/how-members-of-congress-are-taking-action-on-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/23/how-members-of-congress-are-taking-action-on-ocean-acidification/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 18:20:46 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8396

Photo: Brian Kusko

There was a flurry of activity on ocean acidification this week in, of all places, the Halls of Congress. Not one, but two different bills on ocean acidification were introduced in the House of Representatives. And more importantly, these bills were written by a new generation of members of Congress anxious to tackle the threat that ocean acidification poses to the people, businesses, and communities that they represent.

On Tuesday, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced legislation, the Coastal Communities Acidification Act of 2014, that would require federal officials to analyze the risks ocean acidification poses to coastal and island communities around the United States. The Congresswoman’s home state of Maine has hundreds of rural coastal communities that rely heavily on fisheries, shellfish, lobsters, and other ocean resources – communities that may stand to lose a lot in the face of ocean acidification. Congresswoman Pingree’s bill comes on the heels of action by the Maine State Legislature, which passed a law earlier this month to establish a commission to study ocean acidification in Maine. But Pingree’s federal bill goes much further, calling for officials to examine the very real economic and social risks that ocean acidification could pose to all coastal communities across the country.

Then on Thursday, Congressman Derek Kilmer from Washington state introduced a bipartisan bill to help spur new technologies and scientific innovations in ocean acidification research. Titled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, Kilmer’s bill would give federal ocean acidification research programs the ability to run prize competitions, much like the X-Prize. Congressman Kilmer announced last week that he would be introducing the bill, and yesterday a bipartisan group of cosponsors joined him in fulfilling that promise: Representatives Capps (D-CA-24), Heck (D-WA-10), Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-3), Huffman (D-CA-2), Peters (D-CA-52), and Reichert (R-WA-8).

Ocean acidification is a very real threat to both the ocean environment and the people who depend on it for their livelihoods.  These bills are a step in the right direction and we need to see more action like this. The more members of Congress we have who are willing to support creative solutions and develop a vision for how to address this problem, the better. We applaud Representatives Pingree and Kilmer for their leadership, and we hope to see many more members of Congress doing the same in the future.

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Presenting Our New Solutions at the Camden Conference http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/20/presenting-our-new-solutions-at-the-camden-conference/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/20/presenting-our-new-solutions-at-the-camden-conference/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 11:01:34 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7857

Last month, I was invited to speak at the Camden Conference in Maine. This conference brings experts from a number of disciplines together with policymakers, industry leaders and college students to discuss some of the biggest issues facing our world today. This year’s theme was “The Global Politics of Food and Water,” and I spoke about how the ocean sits at the nexus of these issues.

Right now, the ocean is in a period of uncertainty. Climate change and a growing population are changing the chemistry of the ocean and the life that calls it home. But instead of viewing the ocean’s changes in a negative light, I think we have an incredible opportunity to become better problem-solvers. We can break free from old resource management models to find new solutions for our changing ocean. We can effectively address these new complexities; it’s not too late.

You can watch my presentation, as well as those from others at the event, by clicking here.

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The Ocean: Our Greatest Natural Resource http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/27/the-ocean-our-greatest-natural-resource/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/27/the-ocean-our-greatest-natural-resource/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 14:45:54 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6181

I wrote recently for the State Department’s Our Planet blog about the importance of the ocean as a natural resource. Here’s an excerpt:

Despite the fact that our planet is 70 percent water, it’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive. The ocean provides much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us.

The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a balanced way to ensure that life can thrive.

The ocean is resilient, and it will provide for us unless we forget about its vital role at the center of the biggest 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.

Click here to read the full post.

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When It Comes to the Ocean’s Health Report Card, Let’s Set the Curve! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/28/when-it-comes-to-the-oceans-health-report-card-lets-set-the-curve/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/28/when-it-comes-to-the-oceans-health-report-card-lets-set-the-curve/#comments Tue, 28 Aug 2012 16:47:16 +0000 Anna Zivian http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2511

What does a healthy ocean look like? The Ocean Index brings together scientific data on everything from coral to the economics of coastal communities to answer this critical question. Credit: Arthur Koch

At Ocean Conservancy, we often get asked “How is the ocean doing?” That straightforward question is actually quite difficult to answer. This vast resource, our planet’s life support system, faces many complex challenges. Quantifying them is no easy matter.

The new Ocean Index  announced in Nature is one way to assess and compare the health of ocean ecosystems across different countries. To date, there’s been no comprehensive source that brings together all manner of ocean-related research in one place. The Index is a good starting point.

Sixty-five scientists and other experts worked together to create this tool. They use a series of indicators to measure ten goals important to us all, including

The Index looks at the current status for each, as well as the likely scenario for sustainability into the future. Overall, the health of the ocean received a score of 60 out of 100. The United States is in the middle of the pack with a score of 63. 

Obviously, that leaves lots of room for improvement. On the other hand, it also means that there are several things that the U.S. is doing well. In fact, the paper calls out the National Ocean Policy for focusing on “…using comprehensive ecosystem-based management to address the needs of both humans and nature.”

The Index provides a solid basis for discussion, helping demonstrate how the decisions we make matter to our health and wellbeing, and showing us where to focus on solutions.

For instance, the goal of clean waters gets a global score of 78. The Ocean Index takes into account research on all kinds of impacts on water quality, from excess nutrients to oil spills and ocean trash.

Or take a look at coastal protection, which covers habitats like mangroves that protect our shores from storms: 73. Not so bad, but not where we want to be, either.
Putting together scientific information about concerns like habitat destruction and chemical pollution alongside key information like the cost of storm damage to coastal communities can boost the success of ocean conservation work.

The Ocean Index also shows how crowded the ocean really is, and how many different sectors rely on its resources, which is why we need smart ocean planning, (among other objectives listed in the National Ocean Policy), to help make smart choices when it comes to how our ocean is used.

As we move forward with the National Ocean Policy, we can use this collective scientific information in the Ocean Index to help make better decisions for the health of our coasts, ocean and communities. Working together, we can move to the head of the class.

Check back on The Blog Aquatic tomorrow for further analysis of the Ocean Health index from my colleague George Leonard.

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When Did Ocean Education Get Political? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/when-did-ocean-education-get-political/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/28/when-did-ocean-education-get-political/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 13:57:43 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1335 Credit: milagro.cabq.gov

Credit: milagro.cabq.gov

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.

The House Appropriations Committee is currently considering a bill that blocks implementation of the National Ocean Policy. Check out our post from last week when the bill was first put forward.  As we’ve written before, this could affect services that people and businesses have come to rely on.

As our Government Relations Director Emily Woglom 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.”

The National Ocean Policy’s approach to protecting our ocean, where coordination and collaboration are key, is simply common sense.

 

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Are Ocean Issues a Matter of National Security? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/04/are-ocean-issues-a-matter-of-national-security/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/04/are-ocean-issues-a-matter-of-national-security/#comments Fri, 04 May 2012 15:33:05 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=355 Which government agency leader was expressing concern about climate change, melting Arctic ice and the need for the Law of the Sea Treaty? Was your first guess Secretary of Interior? EPA Administrator? NOAA? How about the Secretary of Defense?

At a speech at an Environmental Defense Fund event, Secretary Leon Panetta discussed how several conservation issues (which also happen to be Ocean Conservancy priorities) are also national security issues:

Our mission at the Department is to secure this nation against threats to our homeland and to our people. In the 21st Century, the reality is that there are environmental threats which constitute threats to our national security. For example, the area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security: rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

I was pointing out the other day that with the polar cap melting, we now have problems with regard to who claims the area in the polar region.  And very frankly, one of the things I hope we get a chance to work on is to finally get the United States of America to approve the Law of the Seas treaty, which has been hanging out there for so long. We are the only industrialized nation that has not approved that treaty. It’s time that we did that.

Also in the speech Secretary Panetta explains the Defense Department’s history of being environmental stewards.  It’s important to consider all the future consequences of the ways we we are impacting our ocean today.

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