Statement by John Adams, NRDC President

WASHINGTON (June 9, 2005) -- Today Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced legislation in Congress aimed at restoring the oceans. The bill comes in response to landmark reports issued within the last two years by the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, both illuminating the alarming collapse of the seas.

The National Oceans Protection Act lays out a plan for improving the health, productivity and sustainability of ocean resources and ecosystems. The bill establishes a coordinated, accountable ocean management system designed to protect, maintain and restore the health of the oceans. Among other provisions, the bill also strengthens the role of science in fisheries management, provides increased federal support for coastal habitat restoration and tightens controls on key sources of coastal and ocean pollution.

The following is a statement by John Adams, NRDC's president, who served on the Pew Oceans Commission:

"Scientists have shown that an endangered ocean threatens our food supply, our health, economy and the legacy we leave our children. Now is the time for a sea change in U.S. ocean policy.

"Unfortunately, our current oceans policy is driven by a 'frontier mentality,' a general view that the seas are inexhaustible resources, so vast that human activity can barely make a dent. But the opposite is true, and after decades of human abuse the oceans are now in a state of silent collapse.

"Congress can help turn the tide with federal oceans legislation that brings the management of marine life into the 21st century.

"The National Oceans Protection Act charts a new course in oceans management. The bill is the oceans equivalent of landmark environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

"At the heart of the bill is an effort to refocus human activity in the oceans -- away from uncoordinated, unsustainable use toward better stewardship, revitalization and recovery.

Coming soon is another bill, to be introduced in the House of Representatives, which will seek to restore the health of ocean ecosystems. The bipartisan Oceans Conservation, Education, and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act (OCEANS- 21) is expected to outline a national policy to protect, maintain and restore marine ecosystem health. The bill, which also would establish a system for interagency and federal-state coordination, will contain provisions to improve our nation's approach to ocean science and education.