Lubchenco said Pew Commission members held an extensive series of public hearings over three years throughout the U.S. and a common refrain was: "The ocean system is collapsing; please help fix it."
One of the problems, Lubchenco says, is that the nation hasn't taken a broad-spectrum approach to ocean management since the Stratton Commission in 1969 charted the way the country thought about our oceans.
Many worthwhile initiatives grew out of that commission, she added, including the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the implementation of the Coastal Zone Management Act and the passage of fisheries management legislation. The commissions recommendations reflected the knowledge and attitude of the day.
"At the time, it was thought that our oceans were endlessly bountiful and infinitely resilient," Lubchenco said. "In those 30 years, weve discovered that neither is true."
Lubchenco said the area of the ocean over which the U.S. has jurisdiction encompasses an area 23 percent larger than the entire U.S. landmass - in large part because of Hawaii and Pacific territories. Yet its remoteness has led to an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality about management.
Science, common sense, and experience, she says, can help guide the nation toward sustainable ocean policies.
"Recent scientific knowledge emphasizes managing on an ecosystem basis," Lubchenco said. "A focus on single species has caused unintended problems because it ignores by-catch, invasive species, and pollution. Knowing how the pieces fit together enables smarter and less wasteful management."
"We have a wealth of information that is not being incorporated into policy and management."
Lubchenco is a principal investigator for the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans. PISCO, a program supported by a pair of five-year grants totaling $20 million from t
Contact: Jane Lubchenco
Oregon State University