On September 20th, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP), the federally appointed body charged with reviewing the status of America's oceans and U.S. ocean policy, released its final report today. The report follows on the heels of a similar one released last year by the independent Pew Oceans Commission. Although the makeup of the two commissions was very different, they made similar recommendations and reached a common conclusion: Our oceans are in serious trouble and urgent action is needed to address the myriad problems plaguing them. (To see the reports, go to: www.pewoceans.org and www.oceancommission.gov)
Made public at its last meeting in July, USCOP's final recommendations take into account responses from governors, tribes and other stakeholders to the commission's draft report. President Bush has 90 days to respond to the final report.
"President Bush has a historic opportunity to show leadership and commit federal resources to restructure our ocean management system and invest in ocean science, exploration and education," said Environmental Defense oceans program director David Festa.
As part of their new Oceans Alive campaign, Environmental Defense has appealed to both presidential candidates to offer their visions for the oceans.
"Just as Teddy Roosevelt expanded the area protected in national parks, an oceans president should expand the protected areas that are critical for ocean recovery," said Festa. "President Bush should take the U.S. Ocean Commission findings seriously and pledge to steer such a course."
As the president reviews the final USCOP report, Environmental Defense strongly urges him to advocate fundamental ocean reform measures that will:
- Use protected areas and other tools to protect fragile ocean and coastal habitats;
- Use market-based incentives and science-based management to transform failing fisheries;
- Curb runoff that pollutes the oceans and harms wildlife;
- Maintain the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling;
- Establish strong environmental standards for aquaculture;
- Enforce conservation laws;
- Double federal funding for ocean science, exploration and education over the next 5 years; and
- Improve coordination of ocean protections programs by creating a Cabinet-level interagency National Oceans Council.
To learn more about Environmental Defense's Oceans Alive campaign, visit www.oceansalive.org. Visitors can:
- View Environmental Defense's letter to the presidential candidates calling for a "Teddy Roosevelt of our Oceans";
- View Environmental Defense's New York Times and DNC/GOP convention ads;
- Send a message to the presidential candidates urging them to take leadership for oceans;
- Learn more about why oceans are in trouble;
- Send Oceans Alive postcards to friends and family to spread the word;
- Learn more about sustainable seafood that is good for the environment and your health and download the Seafood Selector.
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