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By ELLIOTT A. NORSE |
Pollution that once didn't seem problematic (nutrients, noise, plastics, endocrine disruptors and carbon dioxide-caused acidification) is now harming marine species and ecosystems. The abalone I fished for 40 years ago are now endangered species. Marine life including corals, sharks and Hawaiian monk seals now face increasing risk due to our management failures. And looming over all are the profound impacts of human-caused climate change.
If current trends continue, the time will soon come when bluefin tunas are as rare as California condors. Recreational and commercial fishermen, conservationists and shippers, scientists and energy producers want to avoid that. As a sportfisherman since age 5, who began snorkeling at age 8, got a doctorate in marine biology at 28 and who wants to eat wild salmon at 62, I have a big stake in diverse, productive oceans.
And this isn't just about you and me: My three grandchildren and all children deserve oceans filled with life in which to swim, fish, whale-watch or scuba dive. Expanded, more intense uses of our oceans require new, more effective ways of thinking and acting. We must make room for all legitimate ocean interests that can win public support in their regions. And we must do ecosystem-based planning to recover marine ecosystems and generate new jobs. It's not either/or; it's got to be both.
To do this, however, we need our government to listen, really listen, to the concerns of public interests and ocean users, from Hawaii to Iowa. The old siloed approach to marine issues - with every government agency pushing its pet interests while ignoring others' issues and the bigger picture - must end now. Our National Ocean Policy needs to be a unifying framework to strengthen our country's ability to recover the health of coastal and ocean ecosystems, and ensure sustainable development of our marine resources.
Because policymaking, like hockey, is a team sport, we need our federal agencies to work together to benefit all Americans. We will all be winners when manage our oceans for where they should be, rather than where they've been headed until now.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Elliott A. Norse is president of Marine Conservation Biology Institute, a national and international science and conservation advocacy organization. Readers may write to him at: Marine Conservation Biology Institute, 2122 112th Avenue NE, Suite B-300, Bellevue, Wash. 98004; e-mail: email@example.com.
This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.