American Oceans Campaign Founding President and actor Ted Danson today urged a federal commission to make ocean and coastal protection a priority as it develops recommendations for improving the way the nation manages its oceans, coasts and marine wildlife. Danson made his remarks at a U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (U.S. COP) field hearing at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
“The oceans should be governed for the public trust,” said Danson, who testified before the U.S. COP early today. “Unfortunately, many of our nation’s current ocean policies put ocean resource exploitation over the protection and restoration of the oceans and marine life. I encourage the Commission to steer federal ocean policy in the direction of enhanced conservation and protection of the oceans.”
In his testimony, Danson called for “visionary changes” to current U.S. ocean policy that promote a “proactive” rather than a “crisis-based” approach to managing the oceans. Danson specifically urged the U.S. COP to recommend policies aimed at curbing water pollution, improving fishing practices and protecting ocean ecosystems.
“We must keep our coastal waters clean if we are to protect the health of the oceans and all who depend on them for recreation and subsistence,” said Danson. “We need to do a better job of controlling polluted runoff, preventing sewage spills and addressing pollution from ships. We must also make our fisheries more sustainable by halting the needless killing of ocean wildlife and the destruction of essential fish habitat.”
Danson went on to point out that, despite the wide variety of ocean and coastal environments under U.S. jurisdiction, from the Arctic waters off Alaska to the wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico, there is no overarching framework for protecting them.
“Many federal agencies and programs oversee certain aspects of the living ocean environment, but none do it comprehensively,” said Danson.
Danson concluded by saying that the work of the U.S. COP and the privately-funded Pew Oceans Commission comes at a critical time. Danson also noted that more than 30 years have passed since the last comprehensive examination of ocean policy by a U.S. commission.
“Current information about the state of our oceans and coasts indicates that bold steps are desperately needed to rebuild depleted fish populations, clean up coastal waters and restore vital ocean habitats,” said Danson. “These two Commissions could be this generation’s only opportunity to fundamentally improve ocean policy by making conservation a cornerstone. For the sake of future generations who deserve healthy, living oceans, I urge you to seize this wonderful opportunity.”
Today’s public hearing was one of several being conducted by the U.S. COP, which will deliver a report and set of ocean policy recommendations to Congress next year.
Ted Danson's full testimony is available at http://www.americanoceans.org/issues/testimony3.htm#danson.
American Oceans Campaign (www.americanoceans.org) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to safeguarding the vitality of the nation’s oceans and coastal waters. AOC is joining forces with Oceana (www.oceana.org) to protect the world’s oceans. The new organization resulting from this merger will be called Oceana. Oceana will bring together dedicated people from around the world to build an international movement to save the oceans through public policy advocacy, science and economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization and public education.