Those watching Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross testify before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on the president’s budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 may at times have been able to anticipate his answers. As the secretary fielded questions from worried Democrats regarding agencies and programs the White House proposed to eliminate or to drastically cut, his responses remained consistent. Whether answering queries about the elimination of the Sea Grant Program, the Minority Business Development Agency, or the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, Secretary Ross was unwavering in his answer that tradeoffs had to be made to fund the administration’s priorities, “and with the big increases in defense and military and national security, cuts have to be made somewhere.”
How does someone without a high school diploma become a Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, responsible for one of the largest portfolios in their country’s government? It seems an unlikely scenario, but that is exactly where Minister Susi Pudjiastuti of Indonesia finds herself. Yet, she has been extraordinarily successful at re-establishing Indonesian sovereignty over their waters and has been responsible for unprecedented recovery of its fisheries.
Three days is just a drop in the fish bucket compared to 200. Yet that is exactly how long recreational fishers will have to catch red snapper in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico this year. The short season will make history and represents a sharp decline from 2006, when the season consisted of approximately 200 days. The change is alarming to anglers and industry fisheries alike and caught the attention of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who invited experts to discuss two major controversies surrounding red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico – the distribution of allotments between commercial and recreational anglers and state versus federal regulations.
“We’re off to a good start. Three good bills.”
“Two good bills.”
“Two out of three’s not bad.”
The conversation heard briefly on a hot microphone after adjournment of a Tuesday hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee reflected the differing viewpoints and occasional agreement over the course of the hour. The hearing in the Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans covered two bills dealing with hydropower production and one involving fishery management.
In a scene more appropriate for a college laboratory than the Capitol building (lab safety protocols aside), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) measured pH on the Senate floor during an ocean acidification demonstration. The act...
“When the word ‘infrastructure’ comes up, most people think of steel and concrete, bridges and ports,” began the testimony of Mr. Anthony Pratt (President, American Shore and Beach Preservation Association) to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He continued, “But I`m here to talk about water and coastal infrastructure that is just as critical to the American economy and creates (and protects) just as many jobs, but does so with sand and sediment, roots and grass.”
The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the northern Gulf of California, in Mexico. Today, the species is critically endangered, with less than 60 animals left in the wild, thanks to fishing nets to catch fish and shrimp for sale in Mexico and America. The animal is an accidental victim of the fishing industry, as are many other marine mammals.
Coral in an area in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Connecticut to Virginia has been protected from deep-sea commercial fishing gear, by a new rule issued this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The protected area covers some 38,000 square miles of federal waters, NOAA says, which is about the size of Virginia. It’s the “largest area in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico protected from a range of destructive fishing gear,” according to the NRDC, an environmental advocacy group.
Today, the National Ocean Council (NOC) finalized the Nation’s first ocean plans, taking a historic step toward fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to healthy ocean ecosystems and a strong, sustainable marine economy. The two regional plans, the Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan, promote the use of integrated ocean data and best practices for informed and efficient management of the Nation’s shared marine resources. This approach is designed to work across all levels of government and to advance economic, environmental, and cultural priorities within each region. In addition to years of historic collaboration among states, tribes, Federal agencies, and Fishery Management Councils, the Plans are a result of extensive participation and input from marine stakeholders representing fishing, recreation, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and many other interests.
Most homebuyers don’t think about Antarctica when buying beachfront property. But maybe they should. The 5.4 million-square-mile Antarctic ice sheet is melting, and scientists estimate that if it disappeared completely, sea level would rise by 200 feet. While no one expects complete melting to happen in the immediate future, competing pressures are increasing the rate of ice melt, whose impacts will be felt in varying ways around the globe – and could even affect that beachfront buy sooner rather than later. In addition to Antarctica’s globally significant role in sea level rise, ocean and atmospheric circulation, and carbon cycling, it has a unique ecosystem that offers myriad opportunities for scientific research. Last week, at a congressional briefing hosted by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), scientists discussed the changing Antarctic and research opportunities in light of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s strategic vision for NSF-supported research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean over the next ten years.