WASHINGTON (February 27, 2008) – The United States gets an overall grade of C for oceans restoration efforts in 2007, according to the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) in its report card issued today. The annual Ocean Policy Report Card is designed to measure how quickly and effectively government implements recommendations from two recent national commissions that were established to ensure the continued health and productivity of ocean resources.
The federal government received a D for their lack of a cohesive federal policy to protect and restore ocean resources. State governments received the highest grade, an A-, for their continued efforts to establish and implement individual state ocean reform legislation.
Following is a statement from Sarah Chasis, Ocean Initiative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“Our oceans are in a state of silent collapse and we need our government to act now in order to reverse this trend. The longer we wait to address problems like pollution, habitat degradation and overexploitation, the harder and more expensive it will be to fix them. Millions of Americans depend on the oceans for work, for recreation, and for the food on their plates, which makes this a crucial economic and environmental challenge for our entire nation.
“We need the federal government to bring order to this lawless frontier through comprehensive measures that will reform the nation’s lack of a cohesive ocean policy. To keep the oceans clean and healthy, we need a National Healthy Oceans Act, such as Oceans-21 legislation (H.R. 21) that is currently pending in Congress. This law would coordinate national efforts to reduce pollution and protect ocean habitats so that beaches are clean, and fish and other ocean animals can thrive.
“And while state leadership continues to be strong, maintaining this leadership is no easy task. New York State has made great strides though the creation of a state ocean council, but the future of the council’s work is at a critical juncture. Adequate funding and staffing for coastal and ocean protection is essential in order for the potential that the New York council holds to become a successful reality.
“Taking a cue from New York, New Jersey just recently passed legislation that will create its own state council. Currently, close to one third of New Jersey’s most important commercial and recreational saltwater fish and shellfish are depleted or are being overfished. It is imperative that New Jersey’s ocean council is up and running as soon as possible in order to repair the damage that has been done to the state’s economy and coastal habitat.
“Florida is taking steps to tackle global warming pollution, the impacts of which will hit Florida’s valuable coastal and ocean resources particularly hard. Florida now needs to adopt coastal and ocean policies that make sense in light of these impacts – in order to protect these resources and the citizens that depend on them.
“We have an opportunity to bring our oceans back into balance and we need the government – both state and federal – to take action while there’s still time.”