Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In the News: Commission Leaders Say Government Must Act Fast to Save Oceans

Leaders representing both the Pew Oceans Commission and US Commission on Ocean Policy recently identified that national policy-makers were not doing nearly enough to implement the recommendations of their studies. In a recent joining of the groups, both gave Congress and the Bush Administration a "D+" on the topic of creating far-reaching ocean policy that will immediately impact the conservation of our coasts and waterways. Commission leaders are now strongly urging for a more proactive approach in the upcoming year writes the Environmental News Network. JB

Note: New York State recently conducted a Ocean and Great Lakes Symposium that recorded similar findings to the National level commissions. See http://www.nrdc.org/media/#0201b for more information and stay tuned for updates.

WASHINGTON — Leaders of two expert commissions that spent years examining the nation's ocean policies give the Congress, Bush administration and governors a near-failing grade for not moving quickly enough to address hundreds of their recommendations.

The presidential panel chaired by James Watkins, a retired Navy admiral and former energy secretary, recommended in September 2004 creating a new trust fund, boosting research, improving fisheries management and consolidating federal oversight among 212 recommendations in its 610-page final report, the first federal review of ocean policy in 35 years.

The privately funded Pew Oceans Commission chaired by Leon Panetta, former President Clinton's White House chief of staff, reached many of the same conclusions a year earlier.

Now, members of the former commissions have joined forces, saying the government's "D+" effort so far could imperil the oceans' health and abundance if the problems are left untended much longer.

"We're hopeful that 2006 is going to be a banner year for ocean policy reform," Watkins said Thursday. "The crisis now is to prevent an irreversible situation five to seven years from now, that will grow exponentially if we don't get on these things."

Panetta agreed: "We're unified in saying to the administration and the Congress, 'We've got to wake up and deal with this crisis facing our oceans.' "


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