SOURCE: Ocean Champions

March 06, 2008 08:15 ET

Ocean Champions Community Pushes for "OCEANS-21" Bill

Unifying Scientists, Politicians and Environmentalists for Comprehensive Healthy Oceans Policy

CAPITOLA, CA--(Marketwire - March 6, 2008) - E-Wire -- Today, the entire Ocean Champions community reaffirms its strong support for the revised OCEANS-21 Bill. For decades scientists have identified major threats to our oceans and environmentalists have fought for stronger protection. Now ocean leaders in Congress are ready to move legislation to address these issues in a coordinated effort. The bill, known as OCEANS-21 (short for Ocean Conservation, Education and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act), if passed will establish a national ocean policy to protect, maintain and restore the health of ocean ecosystems. It is poised to be marked up by the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans of the House Natural Resources Committee, the first major step towards passage by the full committee, and ultimately the House of Representatives.

Currently, our oceans are managed under 140 laws implemented by 20 Federal agencies without a unifying policy that would protect the overall health and productivity of the ocean. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Sam Farr, D-CA and recently rewritten to increase its chances for passage, will create a national vision for the nation's oceans and provide the mechanism to enact that vision and funding. "We have taken our oceans for granted for too long, and an overhaul of our ocean policy is long overdue," said Rep. Farr. "OCEANS-21 is a bi-partisan bill that will allow us to care for and manage our oceans properly. The joining of national and regional ocean management strategies in OCEANS-21 is our best chance to counter the damage that years of failed policies have produced."

The bill already has 66 co-sponsors, including Representatives from Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii and Massachusetts, as well as from Kansas, Tennessee, Arizona and New Mexico. "Ocean health and sustainability impact every region with respect to food supply, natural disasters and even recreational opportunities," said Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M. "The implementation of a singular policy is critical to ensure that we protect, maintain and restore the health of our ocean ecosystems."

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