- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
“For centuries we have viewed the oceans as beyond our ability to harm and their bounty beyond our ability to deplete. The evidence is clear that this is no longer true,” said Leon Panetta, chair of the 18-member bipartisan commission, in announcing America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change. “The good news is that it is not too late to act. This report offers practical solutions for bringing ocean management into the 21st century.”
The report has been hailed by many in the environmental and scientific community, who point to similar maritime harm worldwide, but met opposition from some organizations representing fishing boat operators and others whose practices it criticized.
The report contains key recommendations to reflect a new commitment to sustainable development and primary challenges for pollution control experts. The nation must confront the threat of nonpoint source pollution such as harmful chemical and nutrient runoff. The report estimates that some 10.9 million gallons of oil—the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill—runs off roads and driveways every eight months. The Mississippi River carries about 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen into the Gulf of Mexico each year, creating what has become known as the “dead zone,” an area of water the size of Massachusetts that has become degraded from lack of oxygen.
The 144-page report, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is the first of two comprehensive analyses of U.S. ocean policy due this year. The other, currently being finalized by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, is planned for release this fall. See www.pewoceans.org.