Group Urges National Effort to Save U.S. Ocean Areas

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Solution: The Commission calls upon Congress and the states to work together to set aside habitat critical to coastal ecosystems and to promote smart land use that protects terrestrial and marine environments. The Commission also calls for the redirection of government programs and subsidies that contribute to the degradation of the coastal environment.

Finding: Overfishing, wasteful bycatch, the destruction of habitat, and resulting changes in marine food webs threaten the living oceans upon which our fishing industry and heritage depend.

Solution: The Commission urges the adoption of ecosystem-based management that restricts destructive fishing gear, eliminates the wasteful practice of discarding unintended catch, and places a priority on the long-term health of marine life and marine ecosystems. Central to this goal is the immediate need to separate conservation decisions (How many fish we sustainably catch?) from allocation decisions (Who gets to catch them?) within the fishery management process.

Finding: The nutrients and toxic substances running off our cities, streets, yards, and fields and emanating from our smokestacks and tailpipes present the greatest pollution threat to coastal waters.

Solution: The Commission calls for (1) national standards that set nutrient pollution limits and (2) compliance with these standards and further reductions in toxic pollution using watershed-based approaches. The Commission also calls for stricter measures to abate pollution from animal feeding operations and cruise ships, and to stem the tide of invasive species arriving from overseas.

The commission also urges the doubling of the federal ocean research budget, which for more than a decade has hovered near U.S. $755 million, less than four percent of the nation's total research budget. Citing the need to build a national constituency for the oceans, the commission also calls for a new era of ocean literacy to inspire the next generation with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the oceans.

And in response to the environmental risks associated with the emerging aquaculture industry, the commission calls for a moratorium on the expansion of finfish aquaculture (including salmon) until national policies and standards are in place.

"A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt instilled a conservation ethic for our land that resulted in such national treasures as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Today, we extend this ethic to the oceans and pledge to meet our responsibility to provide for the coming generation a bountiful ocean legacy," said Panetta.

More Ocean Stories from National Geographic News

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World's Heaviest Bony Fish Discovered?
New Jellyfish Species Found
Asian Shark-Fin Trade May Be Larger Than Expected
"Colossal Squid" Revives Legends of Sea Monsters
Extinction Near for Albatross, Experts Warn
Dolphins Deployed as Undersea Agents in Iraq
Belize Reef Die-Off Due to Climate Change?
Killer Whales—Killing Other Whales
Saving Sea Turtles With a Lights-Out Policy in Florida
Whales Win Right-of-Way in Atlantic Shipping Lanes
China's Taste for Turtle Fuels Asian Crisis, Groups Say

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