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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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New Industry Technologies Speak to the Need for Smart Ocean Planning

Posted On April 21, 2015 by

Photo: Brian Kusko

Throughout America’s history, the majority of products we import have arrived by ship. For much of the last two centuries these ships have been powered by coal and diesel.  This past Saturday in San Diego, California, TOTE Maritime launched the first cargo ship to use liquid natural gas (LNG) as the primary fuel, which will meaningfully reduce shipping emissions relative to other traditional fuels.  This is just one of many rapid and significant changes we are seeing in the operations of the age-old shipping industry.

Another new technology that has the potential to significantly change the footprint of human uses in the ocean is being developed by offshore wind companies. For example, Principle Power, based in Seattle, Washington, is designing a floating wind turbine foundation that will allow for the siting of offshore wind installations regardless of water depth.  Until now, offshore wind has been constrained to areas closer to shore because of the need for foundations connected to the ocean floor.

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White House Report Details Ocean Policy Progress

Posted On March 31, 2015 by

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.”

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Diverse Stakeholders Deliver Unified Message to Congress and Administration: Smart Ocean Planning Makes Sense

Posted On March 27, 2015 by

Stakeholders meet with Representative Kuster of New Hampshire (center)

Last month, 42 stakeholders from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic came to DC to speak with Congress and the Administration about the benefits they are seeing from the regional ocean planning efforts currently underway in these regions.  Representatives from commercial fishing, offshore renewable energy, ports and maritime, shipping, undersea cables, recreational fishing and boating,  as well as research, education and conservation organizations, and more came together to deliver a common message – smart ocean planning makes sense.

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Celebrating 2014’s Ocean Victories

Posted On December 29, 2014 by

Photo: Tony Prince

This year was a great year for the ocean! We were able to make waves and accomplish some truly amazing things thanks to supporters and ocean lovers like you. From saving baby sea turtles to protecting the Arctic from reckless oil drilling, here are just a few of the major victories our ocean saw this year.

Gulf Leaders Protect the Gulf’s Deep Water

It’s been nearly 5 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and Gulf leaders have proven they’re dedicated to restoring the Gulf’s shore as well as the Gulf’s deep water.  Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will invest in projects that protect dolphins and manatees, track the recovery of fish species like red snapper, and map the seafloor to inform sustainable fishing practices.

The U.S. Has Ambitious Plans to Protect the Arctic

In 2014, the eight-nation Arctic Council announced that the U.S. would assume the Council’s  Chair position for the next two years beginning in April 2015. As Chair, the U.S. hopes to focus on the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, encourage sustainable development in remote Arctic communities, and improve stewardship of the Arctic Ocean.

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New Case Study Shows How Smart Ocean Planning Helps Put Businesses in the Fast Lane

Posted On July 2, 2014 by

Photo: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

This weekend, millions of Americans will head to the beach to celebrate Independence Day—and get stuck in traffic trying to get there.  But we aren’t the only ones getting tied up as we try to use the ocean: Businesses are too.  New business projects in any setting require jumping through some regulatory hoops, but projects in the ocean are notoriously more difficult to navigate. Unlike projects on land, the ocean is managed on a sector-by-sector basis and by multiple agencies (over 20 on the federal level, not counting states). Projects on the sea must often go through a time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating authorization process by multiple levels of government. For many businesses, this can mean months to years of time spent waiting instead of generating new jobs and revenue.

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High Tide on the Hill: Stakeholders Ask Congress for Funding to Prepare for a Changing Ocean

Posted On March 19, 2014 by

Last week, I wrote about the benefits of coastal and marine spatial planning, or smart ocean planning. To make smart ocean planning work, decision-makers need accurate data on all the ways the ocean is used. Regional Ocean Partnerships coordinate with stakeholders and officials to collect this data. The Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and West Coast regions have already made this data publicly available through data portals.

The ocean economy supported over 2.6 million jobs and contributed $223 billion annually to the U.S. GDP in 2009. However, billions of dollars are lost every year as a result of changing ocean conditions, extreme weather events, and climate hazards that impact the many sectors of the ocean economy. Fortunately, the data that Regional Ocean Partnerships collect and share can be used by decision-makers to make smart planning decisions that promote the resiliency of coastal communities to these threats.

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Effective Ocean Planning Needs to Be Coast-to-Coast, Not Beach-to-Beach

Posted On March 14, 2014 by

Over the last week, I’ve been discussing what coastal and marine spatial planning (“smart ocean planning”) is, what we would need to do to make smart ocean planning work, and what regions of our country have already started the process of making smart ocean planning a reality. In this last installment of our video series, I want to discuss the National Ocean Policy and what’s happening in the United States at the federal level.

Smart ocean planning is a bottom-up process, but it still needs federal support. Coastal states and the federal government each have jurisdiction over their own individual portions of the ocean, and the rules as you move across jurisdictions can both vary greatly and conflict with each other. Because of this, increasing coordination between state governments, the federal government and the stakeholders using the ocean is essential. Without a collaborative process that brings all the relevant players to the table, our decision-making will be disjointed and ineffective in ensuring a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren.

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