Today Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless wrote an op-ed in USA Today, "A Deaf Whale is a Dead Whale", about seismic airgun testing. As you may know by now, the Department of the Interior is currently reviewing a proposal to search for oil and gas deposits in a huge expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Delaware to Florida, using seismic airgun arrays.
Andy explains the brutal physics of the operation, which, if approved could wreak havoc on the ocean ecosystem, injuring an estimated 138,500 whales and dolphins:
In seismic airgun testing, a ship tows a seismic airgun, which shoots extremely loud blasts of compressed air through the ocean and miles under the seafloor to help locate oil and gas deposits. These airguns must be incredibly powerful in order to penetrate the water and the earth's crust and then bounce all the way back up to the surface. In fact, the sound generated by seismic airguns is 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.
All this, he says, while alternatives remain untapped that are both enviromentally and economically more sound (no pun intended).
Using seismic airguns to explore for oil and gas is a destructive step in the wrong direction for ocean-based energy. It is bad for whales and dolphins, fisheries and our economy. We have much better options for energy development in the Atlantic Ocean such as offshore wind, which could supply well over 50% of the East Coast with reliable, clean electricity. Additionally, offshore wind exploration is much less damaging than exploration for oil, and its development will create three times more jobs and power 26 million more homes.
Help Oceana fight this proposal. Add your photo to our facebook petition and spread the word.
Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless dropped by the Chinese CCTV studios recently to talk China, responsible fisheries management and how it could bring the world's oceans back to a state of abundance in just 5 years. As he points out, 11% of world's ocean fish are caught in Chinese waters.
"I think this is the world's biggest conservation problem that we can fix. It's a source of food that the planet needs to manage and can be turned around very rapidly. So for me it's a really exciting problem because it's fixable."
As Andy says, restoring the oceans will take three steps: setting and enforcing scientific quotas, protecting habitat and reducing bycatch, the accidental killing of non-targeted species. Every year more than 16 billion pounds of fish are caught and thrown away as bycatch.
Check out the video!
Editor's note: A new study from researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Washington shows that most of the world's fisheries are overexploited but could be improved considerably through conservation measures. The following is Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless' response to that study.
"This study finally lays to rest the question of whether or not the worldâ€™s fisheries are in crisis â€“ they are. As the authors report, more than half of the worldâ€™s fisheries are in decline. And as they point out, worst hit are small scale fisheries which are critical for feeding hungry people all around the world.
We believe that this report provides a clear call to action. We need to quickly put in place responsible management measures in the countries that control most of the worldâ€™s wild seafood. As the study finds, putting in place these measures would allow depleted stocks to recover to sustainable levels and could result in future catches that are up to 40 percent larger than are predicted if current unsustainable fishing practices continue.
We know from past experience all around the world â€“ including in the â€śassessed fisheriesâ€ť described by the authors â€“ that putting in place better fisheries management allows fisheries to rebound. And we agree with the authorsâ€™ prescription for these measures â€“ science based quotas and habitat protection. We do believe that they (and the worldâ€™s fishery managers) should place a great emphasis on reducing bycatch which is critical to the future of our wild fish stocks.
One other critical point not covered in this study is that putting in place these management measures does not take an international treaty. Just 25 countries control 75% of the worldâ€™s fish catch and can â€“ through their own legal systems â€“ put in place the policies that can allow fisheries to recover.
The world has a moral obligation to act on the findings of this study as it would enable the sea to feed 400 million hungry people living in major fishing nations and would help offset the projected dramatic increase in demand for protein from a world population that is forecasted to rise to 9 billion people by 2050."
Did you know that the worldâ€™s oceans have the power to feed millions of hungry people? Itâ€™s true, but only if we make sure that weâ€™re using them sustainably.
Our CEO Andy Sharpless spoke about this at the Ideacity conference in Toronto on June 15th. The three-day conference brought together artists, activists, scientists and more in â€śCanadaâ€™s Premier Meeting of the Minds.â€ť
Hereâ€™s a video of his presentation, where he emphasizes the importance of national action and responsible management in ensuring that we donâ€™t deplete wild fish populations. Seafood offers many benefitsâ€”itâ€™s healthier than red meat, doesnâ€™t take up land or produce greenhouse gases, and creates jobs in major fishing countries.
Did you know that protecting our oceans could be an answer to world hunger? A few weeks ago our CEO Andy Sharpless gave a talk at TedxSF about how saving the oceans can help feed the world.
We think itâ€™s a fantastic, thought-provoking presentation, please watch and pass it on:
Editor's note: This post by Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless was originally posted last May on Politico.com. We think it couldn't be more relevant right now, especially considering that many media outlets are now making similar arguments to the one we've been making since last year - that gas prices aren't tied to offshore drilling.
Why do we take terrible risks to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere along our coasts?
Most people would say we drill to protect ourselves from big fluctuations in gasoline prices that are caused by major upheavals in the Middle East.
Their argument is that the more oil we can produce domestically, the lower the price weâ€™ll pay at the pump. Itâ€™s not that they like the sight of oil wells off our beaches. The main reason they argue for more offshore oil drilling is they think it will save money â€” especially since gas prices approached $4 a gallon recently. (See: A chart of U.S. gas prices here.)
Last month our CEO Andy Sharpless attended the Economist's World Oceans Summit in Singapore. He spoke to the BBC about the importance of sustainable fishing to the future of global food security, check out the interview and pass it on:
Today the World Bank announced a new international alliance called the Global Partnerships for the Oceans and we are excited to announce our involvement!
Itâ€™s a collaborative partnership in every sense with many of the worldâ€™s top conservation organizations, private interests and the World Bank pooling their resources and energies to help tackle the toughest issues facing our oceans like overfishing, marine degradation and habitat loss.
Oceana understands the need to protect our oceans for their beauty and splendor, but we also recognize that thereâ€™s more at stake here. Itâ€™s not just about the environment. Itâ€™s also about the millions of people who rely on the oceans to keep them healthy and well fedâ€”and the millions more who will rely on them in the future.
Oceanaâ€™s CEO Andy Sharpless said it best: â€śThis global partnership couldnâ€™t come at a better time. At this moment weâ€™re looking at two diverging lines: world population, on a steady ascent, and global fish catch, on a steady decline. If we reverse this latter trend with better fisheries management, we could have enough wild seafood to feed the 9 billion people projected to live on our planet in 2050. No longer is this issue solely about ocean conservation - itâ€™s also about humanity and saving the oceans in order to feed the world.â€ť
Weâ€™re advocating for better ocean management to meet this challenge. By ensuring our oceans are productive enough to feed a growing population weâ€™ll improve biodiversity and strengthen key habitats in the process, which will make the oceans healthier, too.
Oceanaâ€™s model for saving the oceans is just one of many. But thatâ€™s what makes this partnership so great. Weâ€™re uniting conservationists from all corners, public and private. Itâ€™s the complementary collaboration that makes this alliance so strong and well rounded.
The news of the alliance was first announced today at the World Oceans Summit in Singapore, which brought together many of the worldâ€™s leaders in ocean conservation including our very own CEO Andy Sharpless.
Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.
If you watched this weekâ€™s State of the Union address, you may have heard President Obama announce that he was opening 75 percent of our â€śpotential offshore oil and gas resources.â€ť
The good news is that this isnâ€™t news; itâ€™s simply a reiteration of the administrationâ€™s current five-year drilling plan that fully protects the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as much of the U.S. Arctic. The bad news, however, is that plan expands offshore drilling to include much more of the Gulf of Mexico than ever before â€“ and worse yet, some of the Arctic. Itâ€™s as if the massive 2010 spill never happened.
In other good news, the President expressed his wish to reduce subsidies for oil companies. The oil companies receive about $10 billion a year in tax breaks, and the Obama administration has proposed cutting $4 billion.
I applaud the Presidentâ€™s commitment to reducing subsidies for the big oil companies, although I wish he would go further and eliminate them completely.
Unfortunately, the State of the Union address, as well as this weekâ€™s Republican primary debate in Florida, reiterated that our political leaders still fail to grasp a basic economic fact: that increasing our domestic supply of oil will not lower our prices at the gas pump.
Oil is a global commodity, and prices are set on a world market. Multinational companies who drill for oil â€“ like Shell, B.P. and Exxon â€“ will sell to the highest bidder. That may be the U.S. It may just as well be India or China.
As we learned during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, thereâ€™s more at stake. National Journal writer Beth Reinhard asked the right question at Mondayâ€™s Republican debate when she noted drilling in Florida will create at most 5,000 jobs, while an oil spill threatens the 1 million jobs that depend upon tourism, which contributes $40 billion each year to Floridaâ€™s economy.
Thatâ€™s a high price to pay to help oil companies continue to make record profits. And yet Rick Santorum, on the receiving end of her question, reiterated his support for more domestic drilling.
Unfortunately, oil companies are powerful players in the election season. They dole out enormous contributions to the candidates, which may explain why we see misinformation on both sides of the political aisle.
Here at Oceana, weâ€™ll stick to the facts. More offshore drilling wonâ€™t lower your price at the pump, and weâ€™ll continue to fight to protect our beaches and seafood from dirty and dangerous drilling.
Weâ€™re excited to announce that The Economist World Oceans Summit will take place in late February â€“ and our CEO Andy Sharpless will be there representing Oceana.
The Summit will take place in Singapore from February 22nd-24th, and Sharpless will be joined by more than 200 global leaders in business, government, academia and NGOs, including famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle, NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, National Geographic explorer-in-residence Enric Sala, and many others.
Weâ€™re glad to see the The Economist devoting this summit to the oceans, and with such an extraordinary group of panelists and attendees, we hope the event will produce a constructive dialogue on solutions to the oceansâ€™ biggest threats. You can learn more about the summit program and register your place at the summit at www.economist.com/worldoceanssummit.
You can also join in the ocean discussion on the Economist website prompted by Sharplessâ€™ question: Is it inevitable that global fisheries will be depleted? Go ahead, weigh in!