Wear Blue Day January 13th!

Posted by: Chris Laughlin

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Cartoon courtesy of Jim Toomey

With everything going on this week it seems a perfect time to remind everyone to participate in the ‘Wear Blue Day’ January 13th – show your support for a strong national policy for oceans, coasts and Great Lakes!  Details on events for the 13th will be posted soon, please mark this day on your calendars.

For all you and check it out there too.

Let’s make our voice a loud, credible, blue voice on the 13th!

More soon…

Date Posted: December 18, 2009 @ 6:07 pm Comments Off

Ending Overfishing

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

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In 2006, Ocean Champions played a significant role in reauthorizing the (M-S Act).  The M-S Act is the primary law governing marine fisheries in the United States.  A broad coalition of ocean conservation groups and ocean users, including Ocean Champions, achieved a major victory in 2006 with the passage of a strong reauthorization (which was no easy task given the leadership in Congress and the White House at the time).  While the M-S Act covers a lot of ground, its principle goal is to stop and prevent overfishing.  The reauthorization established a target for ending overfishing in U.S.fisheries by 2010.

Now, if you’ve been keeping up with the news, you know that we haven’t solved the overfishing problem yet.  , there are currently 43 U.S. fisheries that are classified as overfished, and 39 that are experiencing overfishing.  One reason is that the 2006 M-S Act has never been fully implemented.  NMFS and the Fisheries Councils have often been unwilling to make the hard decisions necessary to properly manage fisheries and end overfishing.  In addition, budget allocations have been inadequate, and some fisheries lack the data necessary to determine appropriate catch limits. Others are missing the tools needed for catch monitoring and enforcement.

However, the Obama administration has indicated that it is serious about implementing the M-S Act, and is looking at innovative approaches for doing so.  Specifically, NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco has championed as a great tool for maximizing both conservation and economic objectives.  In June, Monica Medina, Dr. Lubchenco’s senior advisor, stated, “Transitioning to Catch Shares is a priority for NOAA,” while announcing the formation of a Catch Shares Task Force to engage stakeholders in the creation of a catch shares policy.  Today, the the Task Force has , which are open to public comment.

Catch shares are effective.  Recent studies published in Science and Nature indicate that overfishing ends under well designed catch shares programs, while the fisheries themselves become at least four times more productive.  Many environmental and fishing organizations support catch shares, but there are others who oppose them.

From Ocean Champions’ perspective, catch shares are a great opportunity to finally implement the M-S Act, and to have a reasonable shot at ending overfishing.  The reasons are simple: the Obama administration supports catch shares, and is willing to invest the money necessary to implement them.  In addition, there is support on Capitol Hill and Members of Congress are important partners as they must appropriate the money for catch shares programs.  Even after decades of work by the ocean conservation community, too many fisheries are in trouble and the health of our oceans suffers.  We believe that the ocean community should support Dr. Lubchenco in her campaign to improve fisheries management and implement practical solutions to overfishing.  Therefore, Ocean Champions strongly supports expanding the use of well-designed catch share programs.

Date Posted: December 10, 2009 @ 10:04 am Comments Off

CO2, Climategate, the Oceans and Other Musings

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

The Copenhagen climate conference opens this week with great complexity and uncertain expectations.  Negotiations will be impacted by international wealth disparities, views of economic growth and infrastructure maturity, as well as by arguments about blame and entitlement.  Amid all this noise, the “Climategate” scandal has broken.  Oil producing nations (such as Saudi Arabia) and oil interests are using it to throw a wrench in the proceedings.  A number of articulate responses to the skeptics have been published, but alas, the chatter continues.

Now, I do believe in global warming, and I believe it could have devastating impacts, but there are plenty of intelligent people who don’t hold these views. I’ve made the argument I’m about to make before, but with Climategate and Copenhagen, it seems important to make it again.  Climate science is complex and still evolving, offering opportunities for skeptics to sew seeds of doubt.  The science of water chemistry, on the other hand, is well understood and undebatable, and water chemistry says that when you add CO2 to the ocean, it becomes more acidic.  This threatens the base of the food web, which ultimately threatens human survival.

So, whether or not global warming is really happening?  Doesn’t matter.  It’s all about the oceans, baby, and to stop ocean acidification, we need to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

If you want to make it about climate, let’s look at the extreme possibilities.  In one scenario, global warming isn’t real, but we act to cut carbon emissions.  In another, global warming is real, and we fail to act.  In the first scenario, we still have cleaner air (which is good, right?), a robust sustainable energy platform with associated economic growth, and we improve national security by commoditizing oil.  In the second scenario, we’re screwed.  Which would you prefer?

Here’s hoping good things happen at Copenhagen this week.

Date Posted: December 7, 2009 @ 9:30 am Comments Off