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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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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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Senator Booker Can Be a Champion for the Ocean

Posted On October 31, 2013 by

Photo: Nick Harris via Wikimedia Commons

Following his recent win in the special election, Cory Booker was sworn in today as the new junior senator from New Jersey. Booker will be filling the seat formerly held by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, whose distinguished career in the Senate included extensive work as a champion for the ocean. We want to congratulate the new senator, but also take a moment to highlight some of the important ocean issues that impact his home state of New Jersey and lay out our hopes for his time in the U.S. Senate:
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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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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 »

NOAA Funding Bill Gets Poor Grades When It Comes to Supporting a Healthy Ocean

Posted On July 16, 2013 by

Credit: Architect of the Capitol

Last week, I wrote about what to look for in the about-to-be released bills for funding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including three questions to ask to determine whether the bill will support a healthy ocean. Now the House of Representatives has released its funding bill for NOAA.

As a former high school math and physics teacher, I thought grades were in order.

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Senate Shouldn’t Limit Tools for Sandy Recovery

Posted On January 18, 2013 by

Jones Beach State Park after Sandy — Nicholas Mallos

Playing politics is nothing new in Washington, D.C.  But earlier this week, while watching the debate on the Superstorm Sandy disaster relief package, after weeks of previous negotiation, I was reminded of a common phrase – it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, or in this case, $150 million of badly needed assistance.

Part of the House’s relief package included funding through NOAA for important tools that coastal states and regions can use to rebuild smarter and stronger – money for shoreline mapping, assessments of coastal flooding vulnerability, strategic restoration of habitat that provides protection from storms and flooding and assistance for state and local decision-makers to plan better for future disaster reduction. In such a divided Congress, this measure not only garnered bipartisan support, but the backing from groups like the Reinsurance Association of America (RAA).

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Trash Talk on Capitol Hill

Posted On December 17, 2012 by

That’s not an oil slick — it’s debris from last year’s Japanese tsunami that washed into the ocean. Credit: U.S. Pacific Fleet flickr stream

There’s plenty of trash talk on Capitol Hill these days – but probably not the kind you are thinking about. It’s not talk about the fiscal cliff or the elections, it’s all the recent talk on the Hill about ocean trash. Recently we heard that the government of Japan gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $5 million to address the ongoing problem of marine debris that resulted from the 2011 tsunami, the President’s disaster request for Superstorm Sandy included a request for funds to assess marine debris and, perhaps the trashiest conversation of all, the House and Senate passed the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act.

Last Wednesday night, after months of hard work by staff in both chambers – and on both sides of the aisle – the Senate passed the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill.  The House passed the bill last week.  Perhaps you are wondering what reauthorization even means. (I’m not sure schoolhouse Rock covered this portion of lawmaking.)

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