We've got something wonderful to celebrate. President-Elect Obama has announced the appointment of Dr. Jane Lubchenco as Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, also known as the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This appointment is great news for the oceans.
NOAA is the lead civilian agency of the federal government charged with responsibility for protecting and managing ocean resources, both domestically and globally. There is no one better suited to leading that agency than Jane. She is a world-class scientist who understands that urgent action is needed to reverse the serious decline of ocean resources. She will bring the best science to bear in developing effective strategies to revive both U.S. and global fisheries, prevent and prepare for the impacts of global warming, and protect endangered marine wildlife.
I got to know Jane when she was serving on the bi-partisan and independent Pew Oceans Commission (2000-2003). John Adams, then NRDC's President, was also on the commission and I helped staff him, attending commission meetings and public hearings. I got to see Jane in action over the course of the 3 years of the Commission's work and was incredibly impressed with her passionate commitment to ensuring that the best science is done and brought to bear on important policy decisions, her deep love of the sea and its creatures, and her thorough and balanced approach to resolving problems.
I remember during one of the meetings, several of us, including Jane, got up at dawn and went to the Fulton Fish Market to see all the fish brought from all over the world. We were amazed at the distant places from which they came. We remarked on how important it was to save this great global resource from depletion and degradation from overexploitation, pollution and habitat destruction. Little did we know at the time that Jane would be in a position 5 years later to lead the U.S. agency that could help do that.