Public Release: 

U.S. commission makes dramatic recommendations for ocean health

American Association for the Advancement of Science

SEATTLE, WA - In June 2003, the Pew Oceans Commission released recommendations "to avert decline of ocean wildlife and collapse of ocean ecosystems." It calls for immediate reform of U.S. ocean laws and policies to restore ocean wildlife, protect ocean ecosystems, and preserve the ecological, economic and social benefits the oceans provide - in essence, a 'Clean Oceans Act.'

In the next few weeks, the U.S. government will issue a draft report giving its recommendations for ocean policy. The new policy will address a broad range of issues, from the stewardship of marine resources and pollution prevention to enhancing and supporting marine science, commerce and transportation.

At the 2004 AAAS Annual Meeting, leaders from both the Pew and U.S. Commissions will appear for the first time together to discuss the findings of their respective reports.

"The current situation emphasizes exploitation. It is short-term focused, myopic and has, in fact, resulted in degradation in ocean environment. Sustainable ecosystems will sustain long-term exploitation," said renowned marine scientist, Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University.

The presentation today at the 2004 AAAS (Triple-A-S) Annual Meeting will stress the need for new ocean regulations by Ecosystem-Based Management. Andrew Rosenberg from the University of New Hampshire and a member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy are expected to describe ecosystem-based management as multi-sector, multi-species and across physical boundaries of the land/sea interface.

"This means trying to manage coherently the different parts of the ecosystem so you don't only manage the target species, but look at the cumulative impact. For example, you think hard about how you can fit together the management of fisheries at the same time you're trying to protect turtles," Rosenberg explained.

As Chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission, Leon Panetta will summarize the findings of the commission's report and recommendations, which are grounded in science. He will reaffirm the critical need for the implementation of the recommendations made by an esteemed board of commissioners. He also will stress their call for substantial reform of U.S. ocean policy in order to restore ocean wildlife, protect ocean ecosystems and preserve the ecological, economic, and social benefits the oceans provide.

"It has been more than 30 years since this nation reviewed the laws and policies now in place to protect the oceans," said Panetta. "With the new research and scientific evidence, we have shown that our oceans are indeed at a crisis point. It is our responsibility to now bring U.S. ocean management into the 21st century. Our oceans are a national trust."

Rosenberg will attest that American policy is at the forefront of instituting measures to preserve the oceans because of the U.S. Commission's comprehensive review of current ocean policy, and also because of advanced authorities and efforts for fisheries management.

Panelist and marine ecologist, Boris Worm of Dalhousie University agreed. He said, "The U.S. has put all the right tools in place - the two commissions funneled the scientific information and put it into a framework that the entire world is waiting for."


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A news briefing on this research will take place at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Saturday, 14 February, during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle, in the Eliza Anderson Amphitheater, Grand Hyatt Hotel. Further, these and other speakers will take part in a symposium titled, "Oceans Renaissance: Harnessing Nature's Resilience Through Ecosystem-Based Management," at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 14 February, in the Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Sixth Level, in Rooms 613-614.

Press registration is located in the AAAS Press Center in Leonesa I of the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society, dedicated to "Advancing science · Serving society."

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