Our Florida Wavemakers are some of the most active ocean advocates I’ve encountered while at Oceana. Recently, a St. Augustine Wavemaker reminded me that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will soon weigh in on a request from the Navy that could have a negative impact on marine mammals and sea turtles living off the shore of Northeast Florida.
The Navy wants authorization from NMFS for the taking of 20 different marine mammal species as a result of tactical sonar used in a proposed Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) near Jacksonville. According to the Navy’s own Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), that could put humpback whales and highly endangered North Atlantic right whales in danger.
This past weekend, Oceana visited central Florida to participate in Efest at the Sarasota Polo Club.
Next spring, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the U.S. Navy’s use of high-intensity, mid-frequency sonar off the southern California coast. Use of this type of sonar, which the Navy admits may significantly disturb or injure an estimated 170,000 marine mammals, was challenged in court based on protections found in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970. Now that oral arguments before the Supreme Court have concluded, we must wait for its decision in 2009. But when you’re as passionate about the issues as our staff and supporters, waiting can be incredibly difficult, so thanks to a Wavemaker in St. Augustine, FL named Marcella, I have something that you can do to help protect marine mammals and other ocean wildlife from sonar.
This week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature began its 10-day World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. Thousands of people representing academia, NGO's, businesses and governments are attending the event in order to debate, learn and voice their opinions on the environment.
As a part of the event, Oceana's Ranger catamaran is participating in Sailing to Barcelona, which is a gathering of marine conservation vessels in the Spanish port city. Xavier Pastor, the Executive Director of Oceana Europe, joined the Director of Fundacion Biodiversidad at a press conference today where they shared the most important aspects of the Ranger's expeditions and displayed many beautiful underwater images taken by Ranger's crew.
I wanted to share an interesting NY Times piece about Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter and are asking for a multi-million dollar ransom to release the ship and its crew. It's odd to think that piracy still exists in this day and age, but people are driven to commit crime for all sorts of reasons: greed, lust, insanity, necessity and so forth.
The twist here? The pirates claim that they were driven to piracy because of illegal tuna fishing. Since Somalia has essentially been without a government since the early '90s, there was no one patrolling the shore. Enter the pirates. Somali diplomat Mohamed Osman Aden is quoted as saying, "It’s true that the pirates started to defend the fishing business...and illegal fishing is a real problem for us."
By no means are the pirates justified because of Somalia's struggle with illegal fishing off its coast, but this article demonstrates how precious the sea's protein is -- in the absence of a legitimate coast patrol, criminals took it upon themselves to protect the plundered resource.
Three years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina steamed through the Gulf Coast and left a trail of human and environmental suffering that is still largely unhealed. As Gustav eyes the Big Easy this week, I can't help but think back on my time as a New Orleans resident. From 2001-2005, I maintained the naive idea that "the big one" would always miss the city. In 2004 I waited out Hurricane Ivan at Igor's on St. Charles Avenue, sipping Bloody Marys and playing pool.
Katrina was big enough to expose the shoddy engineering and poor planning that plagued southeastern Louisiana three years ago. It's easy to get mad when I think about everything that went wrong, but a book I'm reading now is helping put things into better perspective by acknowledging the countless heroes who helped save people's lives and sanity.
Today President Bush lifted an executive ban on drilling for oil and gas on the outer continental shelf (OCS).
On Sunday, I watched the Euro 2008 final soccer match between Spain and Germany. The game was mostly dominated by the Spaniards and in the end, my colleagues from Madrid celebrated the victory from a Fernando Torres goal in the first half. This year's tournament was great fun to watch, but I noticed something disconcerting from Sunday's closing ceremony.
World Ocean Day is Sunday, and if you're unfamiliar with the concept, it's like Earth Day, but for the 71 percent of the planet covered by salt water. It's a time for everyone - not just WaveMakers and ocean advocates - to celebrate the oceans' many unique gifts and to discuss the various threats that are risking their health. Technically, World Ocean Day has only occurred once, on June 8, 1992, when it was created at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, we believe June 8 should be recognized as W.O.D. every year and we're petitioning the U.N. to declare it as such.
This is a matter of principle: The oceans are essential to the planet, and at the very least they deserve one day of global recognition. With or without U.N. acknowledgment, we'll continue to celebrate World Ocean Day.
Here's a few ways you can celebrate, too.
Our goal to raise $20K in May for Patagonia is within our grasp.