Yesterday, the Delaware House of Representatives took a huge step forward for shark conservation efforts worldwide when they passed a bill that would prohibit the trade of shark fins within their state borders. House Bill 41 bans the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins, which are commonly used in the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. Demand for these products drives the harmful and wasteful practice of shark finning, which is responsible for the deaths of millions of sharks every year and the depletion of populations worldwide.
Big news for offshore wind in Congress today! The Senate Finance committee just voted on a tax package that includes a one-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) for offshore wind.
Weâ€™ve been working on this for a long time, so itâ€™s very satisfying that the ITC was included in this package. Weâ€™re now in very good shape to be included in the final package that will (hopefully) be voted on by the full Senate after Novemberâ€™s elections.
So why are we so concerned with getting the ITC extended? Because one of the biggest impediments to offshore wind development is financing, and the ITC can help incentivize investment in these expensive but beneficial projects.
Offshore wind farms will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to finance without an extension of the ITC. As it stands now, the ITC for offshore wind expires at the end of 2012, which is why itâ€™s so important to get this critical tax incentive extended.
Extending the ITC would send a clear signal to investors that America is open for business and committed to producing clean and domestic energy. Todayâ€™s vote in the Senate Finance committee brings us one step closer to achieving that goal.
Why is Oceana such a strong advocate for offshore wind, anyway? Here are a few big reasons:
- Because we have seen the damage that drilling for and burning fossil fuels can do to the health of the oceans and marine life, and we must find a better way to satisfy our energy needs.
- Because windmills harness a clean and infinite source of energy, while eliminating the risk of deadly oil spills and creating three times as many jobs as traditional fuel industries.
- Because we believe that the environmentally safe and responsible development of offshore wind is one of the best chances we have as a country to end our addiction to fossil fuels and to finally stop the dangerous practice of oil and gas drilling in our oceans.
- Because we believe that, if sited correctly, offshore wind could be the ocean-based part of the solution to climate change and its "evil twin," ocean acidification.
Itâ€™s an exciting time in the world of offshore wind and weâ€™re thrilled to be a part of the action!
Nancy Sopko is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.
Yesterday afternoon the California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to support legislation to designate the Pacific leatherback sea turtle as the stateâ€™s official marine reptile.
The Commission often does not take a position on legislation, making yesterdayâ€™s decision an even stronger statement as to the importance of California waters to leatherback sea turtles.
Support from the Commission is expected to help push the legislation (Assembly Bill 1776) through the Senate and eventually to the Governorâ€™s desk, where Jerry Brown has until September 30th to sign new bills into law.
The largest of six species of sea turtles in US waters, the leatherback makes an impressive migration from its nesting beaches in Papua, Indonesia to California waters to feed on jellyfish. Its 12,000 mile, round-trip journey is the longest of any marine reptile.
Pacific leatherbacks are listed on the Endangered Species List with as few as 2,100 adult female leatherback sea turtles remaining in the Pacific Ocean population. In January, 16,910 square miles off Californiaâ€™s coast were designated by the National Marine Fisheries Service as critical habitat for the leatherback.
AB 1776 will be heard next in the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization. Stay tuned!
Some fun news today: The Pacific leatherback sea turtle may soon join the California poppy, coast redwood, and grizzly bear as one of Californiaâ€™s official symbols.
Assemblymember Paul Fong introduced legislation (Assembly Bill 1776) that would designate the Pacific leatherback as the stateâ€™s marine reptile.
This bill is a fun way for Californians to learn about and appreciate the leatherback, while enshrining the ecological importance of this ancient species into state law. Among other things, the bill will establish October 15as the stateâ€™s annual Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day. It also encourages California public schools to include leatherback sea turtles into curriculum when possible and asks the state to support efforts to recover and preserve the leatherback.
The bill must receive enough votes in the Assembly and Senate before it can go to Governor Brown for him to consider signing it into law; the first vote will be in the Assembly this April.
If all goes well we will be celebrating the first Leatherback Day this October! Stay tuned.
Congress took a strong step forward today in the fight against illegal fishing, as Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) introduced legislation to fight this growing global problem that threatens our oceans, honest fishermen and seafood consumers worldwide.
The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Frank Guinta (R, NH-01), Sam Farr (D, CA-17), Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D-MP), Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR), Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS), and Donna Christensen (D-VI).
The legislation, titled the â€śIllegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act,â€ť would provide the U.S. with critical tools to better monitor and track pirate fishing vessels, enforce penalties against those vessels, help prevent illegal product from entering the U.S. market, and protect endangered or threatened species from further depletion. The bill is the companion to S. 52 in the Senate, which was introduced by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation last May.
Illegal, or pirate, fishers skirt the law by using illegal gear, fishing in closed areas or during prohibited times, and catching species that may be threatened or endangered. Because this fishing is unregulated and unreported, it is difficult to assess the true impact on our oceans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates, however, that pirate fishing results in global economic losses of between $10-23 billion each year and accounts for as much as 40% of the catch in certain fisheries.
In a culmination of years of work by Oceana and our allies, Congress has ended shark finning in U.S. waters with the passage today of the Shark Conservation Act.
This morning the U.S. House approved the Senate version of the Shark Conservation Act (passed yesterday), which now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.
Shark finning is the brutal practice of slicing off a shark's fins, often for use in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. The shark -- sometimes still alive -- is thrown back into the water to bleed to death. In addition, without the fins attached, many sharks canâ€™t be identified, which further impedes management.
Sharks have been swimming the worldâ€™s oceans for more than 400 million years and as apex predators, they play a vital role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems. But due to their slow growth rate and low level of reproduction, sharks are especially vulnerable to pressure from human exploitation. Many shark populations have declined to levels where they are unable to perform their roles as top predators in the ecosystem.
This is an enormous victory for sharks and for the oceans. Huge thanks to all of you who have taken action over the years to help make this happen! You can thank your Representatives and Senators for protecting sharks, too.
Yet another victory today, if you can believe it. In a last minute vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Shark Conservation Act, which will end shark finning in U.S. waters.
Each year, commercial fishing gear kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide â€“ including tens of millions for just their fins, for use in shark fin soup. Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring.
The Shark Conservation Act improves the existing law originally intended to prevent shark finning, and it also allows the U.S. to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous. The passage of this bill signals the U.S.â€™s ongoing commitment to shark conservation.
Only one step stands in the way of this bill becoming law -- it returns to the House for one final vote to accept the Senateâ€™s version of the legislation. Weâ€™re almost thereâ€¦
Thanks to all of you who helped us -- and the sharks -- get this far!
For those of us who had been holding out hope for a comprehensive bill that would curb U.S. climate emissions and promote renewable energy, disappointment and frustration have officially set in.
The Senate has scrapped plans for an attempt to push through a climate bill this summer.
This is especially disturbing because the proposals being considered were designed to meet the industry halfway by using market-based solutions that allow companies to reduce emissions in the way that they believe is most cost-effective. This approach diverges from the approaches used before in the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, for example. But industry still shot it down.
Sadly, this is a classic example of â€śpolitical realityâ€ť versus â€śreal realityâ€ť.
Here at Oceana, weâ€™ve been fighting to reduce mercury use and pollution across the United States.
Weâ€™re working to ensure the passage of the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act, which would eliminate mercury use by some of the dirtiest chemical plants in the country, while boosting local economies through job creation and job-loss prevention.
95% of the Chlor-Alkali manufacturing plants in the U.S. are mercury free -- only four remain that use outdated mercury based production techniques. It is time for these last four plants to clean up their act. This bill would force them to do just that.
Groundbreaking news out of Chile, and it's not about the earthquake.
As a direct result of Oceanaâ€™s campaign work to reform the Chilean salmon aquaculture industry, this week the Chilean Congress passed legislation to prevent the escape of farmed salmon and further regulate the use of antibiotics in salmon aquaculture.
The reform criminalizes farmed salmon escapes and imposes hefty fines as well as prison sentences for violators. It also bans the preventive use of antibiotics, and requires companies to make public the amounts and types of antibiotics they use, in addition to their specific prescribed use. Oceana has been working since 2008 to convince Chile to restrict the use of antibiotics in salmon farming.