Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Gov't Officials What You Want to Happen With The Environment

Oceana's leaders held a press conference this morning at the National Press Club to gain public attention for the ocean's dire circumstances and take advantage of the press interest in environmental issues relating to President-Elect Obama's environmental and energy appointments. Oceana then posted a press release on its site to outline ocean-related issues and solutions. I have reprinted the "solutions" portion here because this is a good list to refer to when you are writing your state and federal officials in what to ask for in helping the environment -- particularly the oceans.

"We've been borrowing against the future for far too long, and the oceans can't lend us any more. We must act responsibly and live within our means," said Dr. Michael Hirshfield, chief scientist and senior vice president, North America, Oceana.

"We need to limit rather than expand human activities such as fishing," added Dr. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. To underscore his point, a new peer-reviewed study of overfishing, published December 10, 2008 by scientific journal PLoS ONE, found that the "total catch per capita from large marine ecosystems is at least twice the value estimated to ensure fishing at moderate sustainable levels" into the future. (Marta Coll et al. Ecosystem Overfishing in the Ocean. PLoS ONE 3(12): e3881. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003881, found at www.plosone.org)

We have damaged our oceans so badly that scientists have concluded that many marine species will collapse and even become extinct within the next few decades. However, if the U.S., in cooperation with other nations, acts immediately, we can prevent further extinctions and ecological disruptions. New studies and reports continue to underscore that the well-known threats are worsening faster than we thought.The marine scientists identified the worst human threats to ocean life as destructive overfishing, climate change (including ocean acidification) and other forms of pollution.

U.S. leaders should do the following:
  • Require responsible fishing, including an end to overfishing, a commitment to rebuilding depleted fish populations and an end to bycatch of protected and endangered species such as dolphins and sea turtles. The U.S. also needs to protect ocean habitats from destructive fishing gear such as bottom trawls. [Note: In Oceana's press conference, it was noted that Blue Fin Tuna are going the route of extinction. Only 1-2% of the original entire global population of Blue Fin currently exist, and that 1-2% is virtually not reproducing. This is all due to overfishing. This is just one example, OF MANY, in which we are forcing the extinction of whole ecosystems and fish populations due to overfishing.]
  • Clean up agricultural practices and require advanced pollution controls on sewage treatment plants.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately, with a target of a 25 to 40 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020 and an 80 to 95 percent reduction by the year 2050. We can achieve these ambitious goals with energy conservation and a speedy transition to a new energy economy.

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