Oceana Challenge: Make Saving Our Oceans a National, Bipartisan Priority | Oceana

Oceana Challenge: Make Saving Our Oceans a National, Bipartisan Priority

Press Release Date: October 2, 2009

Location: Washington


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

In response to today’s release of the final U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report that concludes our oceans are in severe distress, Oceana urges the Bush administration, Sen. John Kerry, and other influential national decision-makers to exert strong leadership and challenge the American people to take necessary steps to protect the oceans.

“Just as the space exploration challenge in the 1960s led to significant advancements, Congress and the administration must provide the vision America needs to save its oceans,” said Ted Morton, Oceana’s federal policy director. “National leaders from both major political parties must come together and pass legislation that will pull our oceans back from the brink of destruction.”

The final report does include some sound recommendations. However, Oceana is disappointed that the report’s recommendations to ecosystem protection de-emphasize accountability. Instead, the commission calls for a “movement towards” managing oceans as ecosystems by endorsing the voluntary creation of regional councils comprised of state, territorial, tribal and local officials.

“We urge Congress and the administration to use this report and last year’s independent Pew Oceans Commission report as a foundation to make real changes to the existing, mostly ineffective ocean management systems,” said Morton.

President Bush has the power to make immediate improvements to the oceans’ health. Oceana calls on the president to protect valuable deep-sea coral and sponge areas along with other essential ocean habitat to help ensure that U.S. fishing populations are robust. The president should also seek increased funding for ocean and fish management programs, as the U.S. commission’s report suggests.

“Urgent action is needed from the Bush administration to limit mercury pollution from power plants and chlorine factories, which ends up in our seafood,” said Jackie Savitz, Oceana’s pollution program director. “President Bush should direct the Food and Drug Administration to require mercury warnings on seafood, including signs at seafood counters, to protect public health.”

Oceana also calls on Sen. Kerry and other national leaders to commit to these actions.

The official transmission of the commission’s final report to the president triggers the formal 90-day response period for the administration.