An Occasional Ramble by the Sea
By David Helvarg
CALIFORNIA ROCKS THE OCEAN
“I know this convention center. This is where we shot ‘Last Action Hero.’ We filled all the rooms with gunpowder…”Reminiscing about his life on screen wasn’t the only reason California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came to the Long Beach Convention Center September 18 (joined live on screen by Washingtonand Oregon Governors Gregoire and Kulongoski). He and his colleagues chose that moment to announce a regional compact to protect and restore the ocean. “We now join forces to make sure we are doing everything in our power to maintain clean water and beaches along our coasts,” Arnold declared. Not coincidentally, the governor is running for re-election in a state where people really do ‘vote the coast,’ and are hugely upset over federal attempts to expand offshore oil drilling.
The three governors’ announcement was made on the opening day of the California and World Ocean ’06 conference that drew over 1,000 people from the blue movement including numerous Blue Frontier friends and advisors.
The conference was sponsored by the new California Ocean Protection Council. With hoped for passage of Prop. 84, a state-wide initiative that could bring over $5 billion to the protection of watersheds,coasts and oceans, this was the kind of pragmatic, roll up your pantlegs gathering that makes me believe there still might be time to create a bottom up seaweed revolution before our public oceans becomedead seas.
Thanks to generous supportfrom the Project AWARE Foundation, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Aquarium of the Pacific and Center for the Future of the Oceans (at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) every attendee got a copy ofour book, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, in their conference bag. Everyone also got to thank the ocean or at least watch the PSA video and website for thank you ocean.org, a statewide effort to improve the manners of surfers and longshoremen…no, actually, it’s a big public education push to remind people of all the values we derive from the sea and to link people to ocean education and advocacyefforts.
The conference’s 3 days of panels and plenaries ranged from developing ocean research priorities to talks by reporters, pols and ocean explorers, reflections on the state of aquaculture, marine education, and California’s maritime industries. That’s where I learned it’s the ‘Golden Age of Ports.’ What with a 37 billion dollar trade deficit with China — thanks Wal-Mart – I can’t wait for the ‘Platinum Age of Ports, or however you might say that in Mandarin.
Still it was nice to be inspired. My only worry is that we can’t save the ocean along just one coast. That’s why the Blue Frontier Campaign is now planning for the next national BLUE VISION CONFERENCE to be held in Washington, DC, in the summer of 2008. Blue Vision ’04 drew 250 people from 170 organizations. This time we hope to draw 1,000 ocean constituents from hundreds of groups throughout the U.S.to make sure that Congress and the ’08 Presidential candidates understand ‘voting the ocean and coast’ is not just a California thing. We look forward to partnering with many blue groups and hope yours will be one of them!
HERDING CATFISH IN FLORIDA
Experience has taught me that getting various ocean constituents together makes tuna ranching look easy (and environmentally sustainable). That’s why it’s so impressive to see twenty ocean conservation, recreationand civic groups come together to author and endorse a blueprint for’Florida’s Coastal and Ocean Future.’ I got to accompany DeeVon Quirolo of Reef Relief as she presented a copy to her Representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) on Capitol Hill September 28th. The 25-page report (primary author Julie Hauserman) is designed to make the candidates for Florida’s governorship andother state offices take action to reduce pollution, keep oil away from Florida’s coasts, end over-fishing, establish somewhat more sane coastal development plans before the next half dozen hurricanes hit, and generally think about being at least as good on ocean governance as say New Jersey, if not California.
NOAA — NO OPPOSITION to ADMINISTRATION ALLOWED
Censorship and restricted access is unfortunately nothing new at the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (see Blue Notes# 20 and #22). It makes field people go through HQ to answer reporters’ questions (post-Katrina) and has tried to control field employees’ statements on salmon that differ from the Bush administration’s (what did the migrating salmon say when it hit itshead? Dam!). Now NOAA’s attempts to suppress one of its scientists, who sees a connection between fossil fuel fired global warming of the world’s oceans and more powerful hurricanes, has sparked ‘cover-up’ accusations, picket lines and a call for hearings by Congressional democrats. The latest spark was setoff by an article in Salon magazine, written by science reporter PaulD. Thacker, who obtained internal Commerce/NOAA emails under theFreedom of Information Act. The emails indicate that, despite denials, NOAA barred scientist Thomas Knutson from appearing on TV for fear he wouldn’t tow the administration’s line – that climate change had absolutely nothing to do with the Katrina disaster. We all know it was caused by FEMA incompetence.
THE CHILD’S FUTURETANTRUMS
The earth is the warmest it’s been in at least 12,000 years, and close to as warm as it’s been in a million, according to a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. NASA’s Jim Hansen, a leading climate scientist (that the Bush Administration has also tried to censor) is the lead author of the study. The study estimates, that, amongother effects, there will be stronger and more destructive El Nino cycles that batter the Pacific coast with storms and disrupt global weather patterns leading toregional droughts, forest fires and coral bleaching.
ALIEN RIGHTS BILLS
Congress recessed at the end of September with out reconciling a bad Senate bill and far-worse House bill that would open up presently protected offshore waters to fossil-fuel drilling. The aim of the House bill is to complete the task of Representative Dick Pombo’s alien overlords who want to terraform earth into a hot, stormy, carbon and bug-infested habitat like their home planet. For more information on the human-resistance contact the OCS Coalition (BlueNotes #28).
SHARKS WALK THE SEAS
So basically we’redestroying much of the blue frontier even as we discover its wonders. Remember land-shark from Saturday Night Live? If so, have you gotten your invitation to join AARP yet? But I digress. Two recent Conservation International expeditions to the Bird’s Head marine region off Indonesia discovered over 50 new species of fish, corals, mantis shrimp (ouch) and small (rather cute) epaulette sharks that fin-walk along the bottom. Several divers reported hearing strange sounds like ‘knock-knock’ and ‘Candy-gram.’
FISH FARMING SCALES UP
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) we’re at that point where we’ve killed off most of the buffalo and converted their habitat to raise domestic cattle. While the report doesn’t use that language it does state that fish farms are now close to matching fishing fleets that target wild fish in terms of supplying seafood for the world market. Another new study finds that up to 95% of young wild salmon migrating to sea past commercial salmon farms are killed by sea lice from those farms.
WORK FOR FISHBEADS?
Speaking of fish, Blue FrontierCampaign is looking for a volunteer fish-hugger interested in helping us keep our website (www.bluefront.org) updated, organized and recognized throughout the ethesphere. If you think you might be that waterman or woman please contact us at email@example.com.
DON’T MAKE US SHOOT THIS SEAL!
We thought of a marketing campaign, ‘Buy this book or we shoot the seal’, but then decidedwe might run into trouble with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, plus what with those ears sticking out it’s probably a sea lion anyway. The point is, too few seaweed groups seem to believe us when we say that for 40 percent of cover price (plus shipping) non-profits can purchase 50 Ways for around $5.25, and sell the book for $12.95 (or give it away) at your special events, celebrations, as promotions, on your online bookstores, etc. This way you not only help educate the public but make a tidal profit in the bargain. Commercial enterprises can purchase bulk orders for 50 percent of cover price. Just contact Inner Ocean Publishing’s Ani Chamichian – firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget, 50Ways makes a great holiday gift of the sea/sun.
As usual feel free to reprint Blue Notes, link your site to ours and if you’d like to donate to the work of Blue Frontier Campaign please click here. We depend on your financial as well as your moral support to build the blue movement.