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A blueprint for US national ocean policy for the 21st Century

Washington, D.C. Calling on Congress and President Bush to establish a new national ocean policy that balances use with sustainability, is based on sound science and educational excellence, and moves toward an ecosystem-based management approach is the centerpiece of the Preliminary Report released today by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

"Our oceans and coasts are in trouble, and we as a nation have a historic opportunity to make a positive and lasting change in the way we manage them before it is too late," said retired Admiral James D. Watkins (USN), Chair of the US Commission on Ocean Policy. "If the recommendations contained in our report are adopted, we will create sustainable oceans and coasts for many, many years. We will create sustainable ocean resources; sustainable fisheries; sustainable recreation for our children and their children; sustainable economic development; and a sustainable future for our oceans and coasts."

The last comprehensive review of U.S. Ocean Policy was conducted 35 years ago by the Stratton Commission. Since then our nation's oceans and coasts have changed drastically. More than 37 million people, 19 million homes, and countless businesses have been added to coastal areas. Marine transportation and coastal recreation and tourism have become two of the top drivers of the national economy. These developments, however, come with costs, and we are only now discovering the extent of those costs in terms of depleted resources, lost habitat, and polluted waters.

Living ocean and coastal resources, once thought to be boundless, have revealed their limits. Coastal areas are essential spawning, feeding, and nursery areas for over three quarters of U.S. commercial fish catches, however about 40,000 acres of coastal wetlands disappear yearly. Current projections indicate 50-60 percent of coral reefs may be lost during the next 30 years. Twelve billion tons of ballast water is shipped around the world each year, s
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Contact: David Roscow
703-276-2772 x21
U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
20-Apr-2004


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