Ocean Currents » policy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:26:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Unintended Consequences of the “One In, Two Out” Executive Order: Will America’s Fishermen be the Victims? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/01/31/unintended-consequences-of-the-one-in-two-out-executive-order-will-americas-fishermen-be-the-victims/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/01/31/unintended-consequences-of-the-one-in-two-out-executive-order-will-americas-fishermen-be-the-victims/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2017 20:41:26 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13694

Yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order that intends to reduce government regulations and associated costs to businesses and the federal government. The President claims this will help small businesses, but for the men and women making their living off the ocean, the order could pose some serious problems.

Known as “one in two out,” the order states that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.”

How does this relate to fisheries? America’s fishermen are constantly adapting—to new science, to changing conditions on the water and to fishing seasons. They rely on fishery managers to make decisions that weigh environmental conditions, the best available science and fishermen input. Armed with this information, managers develop solutions that not only protect our environment, but support commercial and recreational fishing and coastal communities across America. And the method for implementing these day-to-day management decisions? Regulations.

Fishery regulations open seasons, establish catch quotas and test new management concepts. When a disaster happens, like an oil spill, a toxic algal bloom or a sudden decline in fish populations, regulations are the way the government protects fishermen and consumers.

With this order, when fishery managers need to take any sort of action (for example, open the red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico, or change the number of salmon vessels are allowed to catch in the Pacific) those managers will need to find two other regulations they can nullify. Managers’ hands will be tied.

The point: Regulations support the businesses of American fishermen and seafood consumers. Hamstringing fishery managers from issuing routine rules that are needed to run our nation’s fisheries could cause serious trouble for both fish and fishermen. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and at this point it’s very uncertain how things will work under President Trump’s Executive Order. But what is clear is that fishery management may have just gotten much more difficult.

Our fisheries already face new and growing pressures from pollution, environmental variability, and increased demand on resources. The last thing our fishermen need is a misplaced order that suddenly brings a wave of uncertainty to the basic mechanics of how we manage our nation’s fisheries.

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MSA: 40 Years of Rebuilding Fishing Communities http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/13/fish-town-usa/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/04/13/fish-town-usa/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 14:17:47 +0000 Jeff Barger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11912

Bright lights, shops bursting with souvenirs, the laughter of children, the smell of caramel popcorn complete with sunlight sparking rays off the emerald saltwater as America’s largest charter boat fishing fleet bobs in the marina—the “world’s luckiest fishing village” is open for business.

Fish, bait, boat

The lure of Destin—starting back to when Leonard Destin came to this Florida peninsula in the 1840s—has always been fish. Slowly, over the next century, others came. And with time and a growing community, came bigger boats and technological advances. By the 1960s, the once massive schools of fish that inspired Leonard to set up his first fishing camp were history. Boats were going out further for longer and hauling in less and less fish. They were competing fiercely on the water with other vessels—including those flying under foreign flags—for a resource that was fast-disappearing.

Rebuilding a national resource

In 1976, led by Senators Warren Magnuson (D-WA) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) , Congress passed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) establishing the nation’s first marine fisheries conservation legislation. It extended U.S. jurisdiction from 12 to 200 nautical miles from shore, and emphasized scientific management for the long-term profitability of our nation’s fisheries. The act has gone through two authorizations, with the most recent one in 2006 adding science-based rebuilding timelines and annual catch limits to strengthen the legislation.

A journey to sustainable fisheries

Over the past four decades, fishing communities have had to make some tough decisions, often sacrificing short-term gains for long-term benefits. Focusing on the long game is yielding rich results. Thanks to the foresight of fishermen, scientists and decision makers, the US has a thriving coastal economy and one of the best fisheries management systems in the world.

On April 13, 2016, the Magnuson-Stevens Act embarks on its 40th year of supporting America’s journey to sustainable fisheries.

It continues to be championed by those that have invested in its promise, including generations of fishermen and coastal communities like Destin, Florida. It is helping the “world’s luckiest fishing village”—and America—prosper by rebuilding fisheries and putting an end to overfishing, ensuing our coastal communities continue to thrive.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act is critical for the future of sustainable fisheries. Do your part for a healthy ocean and ask your member of Congress to support a strong MSA today!

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An Ocean of Support at the Paris Climate Negotiations http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/21/an-ocean-of-support-at-the-paris-climate-negotiations/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/21/an-ocean-of-support-at-the-paris-climate-negotiations/#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2015 15:10:32 +0000 Julia Roberson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11240

The recent, and much heralded, Paris climate negotiations have led to a new global climate agreement. This historic deal involves 195 nations working toward a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions and restricting future global warming to an increase of “substantially less than 2 degrees Celsius”, a substantially new target that was just one of many new components of the landmark climate agreement. Ocean Conservancy sat down with longtime friend and colleague Jay Manning, a climate and ocean expert from Washington state, to get his inside report from Paris and COP21, and what it means for the health of the world’s ocean.

Jay, tell us why you went to Paris, and what message you wanted the climate treaty negotiators to hear.
I went to Paris in my professional capacity to support the Pacific Coast Collaborative, which consists of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. These jurisdictions have been working together for 8 years on climate, energy and ocean acidification. The agenda at Paris included a substantial focus on cities, states, and other jurisdictions below the national level where substantial progress on addressing climate change has been made. The message we sent was that carbon limits and economic success go together. Another important reason why I went to Paris was to advance the discussion on ocean acidification. I’ve worked on this issue with Ocean Conservancy and others for the last 4 years. I spoke out in support of an aggressive international agreement to limit carbon emissions, which is the root cause of ocean acidification, to protect shellfish farmers from my coastal state, for other coastal communities around the world and for ocean ecosystems.

What expectations did you have for how prominent the ocean would be in the discussions and how did it turn out?
From my vantage point, the health of our ocean was a prominent theme in the discussions. Ocean advocates from around the world gathered and told stories of ocean acidification and other changes caused by global warming impacting the Pacific Northwest and other hot spots around the world. My understanding is that this was quite different from previous meetings. To the disappointment of some, the agreement itself heavily focused on atmospheric carbon and limiting emissions with little explicit language on the ocean, but there was far more prominence given to the ocean than in previous negotiations.

Why is the ocean so much more prominent this year in the global discussions on climate change?
I think it’s because in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia the impacts of ocean acidification are beginning to be felt. It started with oyster growers, and the crash in oyster stocks in the Pacific Northwest, but now it’s happening on a much larger scale. Climate impacts across the board—from the ocean to the land—are showing up much earlier than expected. Ocean acidification is being felt across the world. But, it’s not just acidification. Warming ocean temperatures and lowering dissolved oxygen levels are combining with increased acidity to threaten whole ecosystems and coastal economies.

How will the results of this historic climate agreement remedy the growing threat of ocean acidification on coastal communities and fishing businesses around the world?
The root cause of ocean acidification is the increasing concentration of atmospheric CO2, of which 25-30% dissolves into the world’s ocean. As the atmospheric concentrations go up, it also goes up in the ocean. As the pH goes down, it creates real problems for shell-forming creatures like oysters. In some places, we are seeing pH levels at 7.5 or 7.6. At that level of acidity, it’s a lethal dose for oyster larvae. Now, we’re starting to worry about lobsters, crab and pteropods, an important food source for the Northwest’s iconic salmon species. We have to get at that root cause; we have to reduce CO2 emissions substantially, and we need to do it quickly. While the text of the climate agreement doesn’t say much about the ocean, it is all about reducing atmospheric CO2—which is a very good thing when it comes to the world’s ocean.

What surprised you?
The scale of this climate meeting was staggering. 50,000 people were in Paris for this event. In the Parisian suburb of La Bourget, huge buildings were erected for all of the delegates. This was the most international event I’ve ever been to—195 nations!

What will you remember most about COP21?
Most memorable is the fact that the international negotiators did reach consensus on what is truly the most far reaching, specific agreement that has ever been reached on climate change…and they got 195 countries to agree on it. It was a huge breakthrough and success, and it was exciting to have been there. I’ll remember that most. Second, was the hospitality shown by the Parisians. They were absolutely wonderful. They were friendly, helpful, and cheerful. Following on the heels of the terrorist attacks in the city, the Parisians seemed glad we were there working on something so positive.

What’s next?
Now the hard work really starts. We should have more concerted, consistent leadership from nations across the world. That will help and be incredibly important for the long-term success of this work. I know there will still be a need for leadership at the state, county and city levels. For example, progress on energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and rooftop solar will happen more at the local than the national level. These are important building blocks for progress in addressing climate change and will benefit the ocean.

As well, I am optimistic for the future and for issues that Ocean Conservancy is working on like advancing the science of ocean acidification. The Paris meeting was a demonstration of the increasing recognition of the importance of ocean health and increasing coordination between ocean acidification scientists globally. I saw scientists from France working with scientists from the Philippines and the US and so on. Today, there is much better coordination on ocean acidification research and monitoring, and we’re answering the most pressing questions first. Scientists are helping industry mitigate and adapt to the changing ocean chemistry. And on the policy side, I’m working with colleagues who are connecting policy makers from jurisdictions making progress with those just learning about the science of ocean acidification. It is a great time to be working on protecting our coastal communities and Ocean Conservancy has really led the way on what I consider to be one of the world’s great challenges.

Sunset from Shoreline COP21 COP21 COP21 ]]>
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3 Ways Ocean Planning and Offshore Wind Are Working Together http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/11/3-ways-ocean-planning-and-offshore-wind-are-working-together/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/11/3-ways-ocean-planning-and-offshore-wind-are-working-together/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2015 14:30:28 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11215

Right now, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is soliciting comments from the public on “aspects of BOEM’s renewable energy program that stakeholders have found to be successful, and those program areas where there appear to be opportunities for improvement.” Click here to sign a letter that Ocean Conservancy is submitting to BOEM requesting them to make ocean planning a fundamental part of the way BOEM plans offshore.

Bringing together relevant data and information through a scientific and stakeholder driven process has proven beneficial for the offshore wind industry. Through the ocean planning process, the offshore wind industry is given the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders from conservation, fishing, to recreation, shipping and more to produce mutually beneficial results for all. Three examples of benefits ocean planning can bring to the offshore wind industry include:

1. Bringing collaboration and communication to the forefront of project development.

Ocean planning brings diverse groups of interested parties together and enables an open dialogue among the public, industry sectors, and government agencies. Placement of wind turbines offshore can be an important topic of conversation not only for optimal wind generation capabilities, but also for those that live and work in the areas where offshore turbines will be constructed.  Through collaborative ocean planning, community and industry representatives can come together and identify areas of concern, and work together with the wind developer at the same table. For example, in Rhode Island, the planning process enabled commercial fishermen to indicate areas where turbines and fishing grounds overlapped, and through this collaboration, Deepwater Wind (developer of the Block Island demonstration project) modified their turbine placements through consultation with their engineering firm producing mutually beneficial results.

 2. Increasing understanding of marine ecosystem to inform project placement. 

Ocean planning is a data-driven, scientific process that works to combine existing and new research into a framework for effective decision-making. Scientists at leading universities are undertaking important research efforts to better understand the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic marine environment. As part of the regional ocean planning processes from Virginia to Maine, researchers have compiled thousands of layers of critical data and are working now to identify areas important for biological diversity. Offshore wind developers in this region will now have access to cutting edge biological and ecological data when determining the location of their wind farms, a unique level of marine ecosystem data that will conserve valuable habitat by ensuring wind farms are placed in appropriate places.

3. Enhancing the permitting processes by coordinating among multiple jurisdictional boundaries. 

The ocean and its resources are contained within a tangled web of regulatory bodies, and offshore wind companies face multiple competing jurisdictional requirements to finalize permitting processes. Federal, state, and local governments all have some level of involvement when it comes to offshore wind development, including project siting, environmental reviews, transmission cable landings, and more. A major goal in the ocean planning process in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast is to enhance coordination to avoid delays in project development. Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski says the Rhode Island Ocean Plan helped save years of permitting delays on the Block Island project.


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How to Protect Endangered Albatross http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/09/how-to-protect-endangered-albatross/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/09/how-to-protect-endangered-albatross/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:30:59 +0000 Corey Ridings http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11199

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has some exciting news for seabirds: Streamer lines are now required in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery! Break out the squid and champagne! Ok, just kidding on the champagne, but as a species that often mates for life, the short-tailed albatross knows something about romance.

This final rule means that fishing vessels 55 feet or longer now require streamer lines to deter seabirds from becoming hooked or caught in fishing line, and that the endangered short-tailed albatross—along with other West Coast bird species—is now better protected. The rule was recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in 2013 due to the impact the Pacific groundfish fishery has on the albatross, whose population size is an estimated 600 nesting pairs, significantly down from historical numbers in the millions.

The survival of this species is threatened by multiple stressors, including changes in food concentration and location, contact with fishing vessels and plastic debris. A paper released in 2013 showed high levels of interaction between the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery and the albatross; the albatross, unable to see hooks or fishing line, can accidentally ingest the hooks or become entangled in fishing line.

Streamer lines, used widely in Alaska with high rates of success, were naturally part of the solution. They are relatively low cost and easy for fisherman to use, and were shown to significantly help keep albatross away. In fact, they are already being used voluntarily by some fisherman in the fleet.

Here’s how they work: Bright orange tubing is vertically suspended from a line above the water. The birds are startled by the color and movement, and the baited hooks are safe as they go into the water. This keeps the birds from getting entangled in the fishing line or encountering a hook. Bait is preserved and fishing line remains untangled, making life easier for fisherman and bird alike.

NMFS’s action finalizes a good example of how science, good management, and fishermen initiative can allow low-tech, inexpensive equipment to put a major dent in a real problem. Seabirds face many uncertainties as their environment changes, but this final rule gives them a better chance for survival, and hopefully many more years of winged romance.

For more about the short-tailed albatross’ amazing recovery, please see an inspiring story by our colleagues at Audubon.

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The National Ocean Policy Turns Five! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/19/the-national-ocean-policy-turns-five/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/07/19/the-national-ocean-policy-turns-five/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 12:30:25 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10513

Photo: NOAA

Today we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the National Ocean Policy (NOP), which aims to protect, maintain and restore ocean health while supporting sustainable uses in our oceans.

Healthy, productive oceans and coasts contribute significantly to our quality of life and to our economy. To maintain ecosystems that flourish, we are faced with complex challenges that the NOP is working to address. Across the nation, traditional industries, such as shipping, are expanding and new industries, such as offshore wind energy, are emerging where existing industries, like fishing, have been active for generations. In addition, stressors such as increased development along our coasts, ocean acidification, and sea level rise threaten ocean health.

Traditionally, the way we manage our ocean and address these concerns is through a single species, single sector or single-issue approach. We are often reactive to an individual conflict or development rather than being proactive about where certain ocean uses are appropriate. Making matters more complicated, there are over 140 laws managed by over 20 federal entities with jurisdiction over the ocean. The NOP seeks to address this challenge through ocean planning.

Ocean planning is a science-based process that gathers information on ocean uses and the environment and brings together stakeholders to plan for our future in a holistic manner.  This approach allows us to move away from the species by species and sector by sector management into considering the needs of ecosystems – the biological, chemical and physical needs of our ocean environment. For example, we can now start asking questions such as how do we account for all our ocean uses and their cumulative impacts on the environment? With ocean-related commerce generating $282 billion a year, how do we balance economic industries with the health and needs of our ocean? And, how do we ensure environmental resilience for long-term sustainability?

As you can tell, we have a lot of questions. Ocean planning is the key to answering them.

The NOP calls for better coordination of research and data to achieve our ocean management objectives in federal waters (out to 200 miles off our coasts).  However, each region has the flexibility to coordinate with the states and local citizens on its unique needs.

The regions currently conducting ocean planning are the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, West Coast, Caribbean and Pacific Islands. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are leading the pack on planning, and by the end of next year, they will finalize their first-ever ocean plans.

In fact, the Northeast recently released a draft outline for its ocean plan along with groundbreaking scientific data that will characterize the region’s ocean resources and marine life, and how humans interact with them. Additionally, an assessment that characterizes the natural resources, infrastructure, economy, cultural resources and future trends of the Northeast will soon be released and a similar assessment will be mirrored in the Mid-Atlantic. Also of interest to industry and conservation alike is the practical work being conducted to outline best practices for gathering public input to guide development in marine waters, an important concern for many citizens and businesses.

These are new and exciting times for our ocean. We hope you will continue to follow and engage in the ocean planning processes as they progress around the country.

Join Ocean Conservancy in wishing the National Ocean Policy a Happy 5th Birthday!

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White House Report Details Ocean Policy Progress http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/03/31/white-house-report-details-ocean-policy-progress/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/03/31/white-house-report-details-ocean-policy-progress/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:15:01 +0000 Anne Merwin http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10045

Last Friday the White House released a report on the accomplishments of the National Ocean Policy (NOP).  The NOP set forth a vision to ensure our oceans and coasts are healthy and resilient, and implements the recommendations of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to improve federal coordination and effectiveness in managing our ocean resources.

“The accomplishments of the National Ocean Policy reflect the tremendous momentum we’ve seen from the Administration to address the most pressing issues facing our ocean and coastal communities,” said Ocean Conservancy’s Director of Ocean Planning Anne Merwin.  “Businesses as diverse as shipping and maritime, commercial fishing, recreation, and conservation groups have all expressed their strong support for smart management of our ocean, because of the real, practical, and local benefits they are seeing thanks to this important work.”

While the NOP has facilitated progress on a wide variety of activities, one of the most innovative and exciting is smart ocean planning. Thanks to the NOP, planning is now moving forward in several regions.  This common sense approach with a long bipartisan history provides a critical tool to reduce conflicts among current and future ocean uses.  The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will have plans completed by 2016, and planning in these regions has stimulated interest in other regions including the Pacific Islands, Caribbean, and West Coast.

Each region’s plan will be uniquely designed to address local and regional issues and ocean uses. What makes these efforts even more exciting is that local communities, ocean users, and the states now have the ability to work in a more coordinated and thoughtful way with federal agencies on how their marine environment will be used.  Although each region will vary depending on the relevant issues, themes of the plans include supporting ocean health, maintaining and supporting ocean industries, and promoting engagement with all ocean users. This collaborative approach ensures we are supporting our economic and environmental future by providing a forum where ocean users can provide input on their needs.

Ocean Conservancy strongly supports smart ocean planning and the National Ocean Policy.

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