Democratic Congress Brings Possible Relief for the Oceans

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The Joint Oceans Commission, created three years ago after two high-profile reports recommended sweeping changes in the ways the nation’s coastal waters are managed, just came out with its most recent report card on the Bush administration’s oceans policies. This year the average grade was a C-, a slight improvement over last year’s D+ but a far cry from the comprehensive policy changes that are needed to thwart the ocean’s imminent collapse.

The reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s primary law regulating fisheries, was a good start, and House Democrats are now pressing on with more ocean-friendly bills. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) just reintroduced OCEANS-21, a comprehensive ocean management reform bill that has been stagnating in the Republican-controlled Congress since 2004. The legislation would unify ocean management under a national oceans policy, develop regional ecosystem plans, boost conservation funding, and significantly strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the primary federal oversight agency which has long been starved for resources.

It’s about time.

— Ana Mileva

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