Clam Chowdah Science: Ocean Stewardship & Northeast Ocean Collaborative Planning
Gloucester’s fishing industry knows all too well about the complexity of our oceans. Through my years of working with groups like the commercial striped bass fishermen and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, I have seen our fishermen adapt to the highs and lows that come with fishing these seas. That complexity has multiplied as new demands are placed on our ocean and coastal areas.
From wind power to aquaculture, there are more and more people making a living off our waters. And while we all agree that New England should make the most of these opportunities, we can’t do it at the expense of our fishermen’s livelihood, the health of our ocean wildlife or the places where our families go to play. . . more, Rob’s op-ed in the Gloucester Times.
It is now more critical than ever for us to effectively protect our oceans. That is why I’m proud to see the years of compromise come to fruition with the release of our nation’s first regional ocean plan. The Northeast Ocean Plan has been submitted to the National Ocean Council.
It is remarkable to have all of this robust data and information in one place. With 150 species of marine life, the data portal is full of science and research that has been thoroughly validated. Anyone reading the plan can add comments or observations, and make note of any perceived gaps in the information. It allows us, for the first time ever, to break down silos of information that have existed across the numerous state and federal agencies.
Clam Chowdah Science
My new blog is a place where people voyage in the science and ethics of seascapes and watersheds. There’s natural science and social science, citizen science and conservation science. Mix it up, season with ethics and stewardship, add a touch of advocacy, and you’ve got Clam Chowdah Science – where the clams are sweet, dialogues memorable, and science fulfilling (oyster crackers optional).
Victory for Oceans – the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 Becomes Law
“This bill gives a green light to 34 water infrastructure projects across the country, including projects to deepen Boston Harbor and the Port of Savannah and to restore the Everglades,” Obama said before signing the act into law.
Over 13,000 of you signed ORI’s letter to urge Congress to pass a strong Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) that maintains the standards of the National Ocean Policy, allows the Army Corps of Engineers to participate in regional ocean planning, and funds vital coastal restoration and protection projects.
We organized your signatures and comments by state and town. Printed and bound, they were hand-delivered to Senator Boxer’s office and Senator Whitehouse’s office. The Senators were very pleased that everything was arranged by state and found your comments very helpful as they negotiated the contents of the final bill.
The legislation authorizes $12.3 billion for 34 water projects across the country. For the Boston Harbor, it means a $310 million project to dredge the Boston Harbor can move forward. It authorizes many coastal restoration projects, many of them badly needed in coastal states like Louisiana. It’s the first major water bill to be signed into law since 2007.
Absent from the bill is the harmful Flores Rider to block the US Army Core of Engineers from working with coastal states on ocean planning to stall many important restoration projects. While we did not get the National Endowment for the Oceans, the bill does create a Coastal Resiliency Program to fund coastal restoration projects that help the economy and restore vital ecosystems.
Why WRRDA Victory is Important
Our nation’s economy, culture and way of life all benefit from healthy oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. These waters are home to some of the world’s most unique and valuable wildlife areas and serve as refuge for endangered wildlife species. Our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes have been degraded by pollution, overfishing, climate change, and are facing a growing number of challenges.
Sea levels are rising 3-4 times faster along the east coast than the global average and now there are “Super Storms.” More frequent and bigger storms, along with rising waters, put our nation’s many coastal cities and towns at risk for flooding and beaches and wetlands to deterioration. Overloading of carbon from the atmosphere is causing the ocean to acidify, which kills shellfish and damages coral reefs and is an additional stress on commercially valuable fish. Excessive runoff of nitrogen from fertilizers is creating massive toxic algae blooms and ocean dead zones. Plastic trash is being ingested by ocean birds, turtles, and fish. Ocean warming from climate change is shifting currents causing ecosystems to disassemble, and overfishing is still a problem.
We need WRRDA to support agencies working together on coastal management to address these growing threats to our ocean and coasts.
Thanks to the National Ocean Policy and Regional Ocean Planning programs, we have a ways to make decisions about how we protect and use our ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources through the best data, latest information and, most importantly, by working together.
Regional marine planning is a collaborative well-informed process of improving decisions about ocean and coastal resources before conflict arises. The process involves everyone who has a stake in ocean and coastal management, including towns and cities, recreational users, fishermen, conservation groups, and businesses.