Summit Video, Ocean Task Force, Green bullets, Bloody Sharks, etc.
Aug. 10, 2009
By David Helvarg
Blue Vision Online
David McGuire of Sea Stewards Studios has completed a ten-minute video of the Blue Vision Summit narrated by Sylvia Earle. Whether you were there for the historic four day gathering of over 400 ocean leaders in D.C. March 7-10 or not, you can now view a fast-paced documentary about it on our bluefront.org website, also on Facebook and Vimeo. You can also click from our website onto the Blue Vision Summit website atwww.bluefront.org/bluevision where we have updated reports, transcripts, and notes from many of the Summit’s Plenary Sessions and Panels as well as the Explorers Evening and Peter Benchley Awards.
Click through the Summit site’s Day-to-Day Agenda and its Media section and you will also find links to additional videos and photographs.
The Summit’s three major themes were Federal Action for Healthy Seas, the Ocean and Climate and Marine Solutions that work.
Along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D RI), Rep. Sam Farr (D CA) and Madeleine Bordallo (Delegate, Guam) the March 9 Plenary on “Advancing Federal Ocean Policy,” included the newly appointed Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley. It must have been a bracing plunge into ocean politics for the southern Californian whose work history made her more familiar with air quality and climate issues. It had to be helpful as only three months later on June 12 President Obama named Sutley to lead his new Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force that’s now underway (see Blue Notes #61). Along with CEQ the task force includes 20 other federal agencies and offices all of which have some claim or interest in our public seas and Great Lakes.
Two if by Sea! Ocean Task Force Goes Public!
Historic opportunities are rare as seared Ahi. But now it looks like we’re going to have at least five in the next couple of months as the Interagency Task Force assigned to come up with a plan to protect and sustain the ocean “for current and future generations,” begins holding regional public hearings or “listening sessions,” around the country. The ocean and coastal community will have to move quickly to promote public participation and help educate folks on how a unified federal ocean policy based on restoring ocean health and that of the Great Lakes will also help restore coastal economies and enhance national security. The tentative meetings schedule includes the following dates:
- Anchorage – Aug. 21, Dena’ina Civic Center (confirmed)
- San Francisco – Sept. 17
- Providence Sept. 24
- Cleveland – Sept. 28 or Oct. 7
- New Orleans – Oct. 19
- Possible Pacific Islands meeting to follow
Blue Frontier Campaign is planning to hold a mini-Blue Vision Summit in D.C. shortly after these for folks to review how the meetings went, follow up with the agencies and elected representatives who participated in them, and plan our next steps to assure the restoration of the blue in our red, white and blue.
Already a small group of regional and national groups have started networking to help realize the aims of the Task Force and build a massive wave of public support at these meetings. We’ll need more folks from marine conservation, recreation: boating, surfing and diving, maritime labor, business, sustainable tourism, clean energy, clean fishing, youth, artists, local officials, coastal tribes, etc. to let the government agencies on the Task Force know there is a seaweed (marine grassroots) movement out there ready to work with them for a sensible unified approach to the management of our last great public commons.
A coalition of Alaskan groups has taken the initiative on organizing for the Anchorage meeting. The Conservation Law Foundation has taken the lead on the Providence meeting. I’ve volunteered Blue Frontier’s West Coast office to start networking around the San Francisco meeting on condition we not be parochial. Sure we could turn out hundreds of seaweed citizens just from the Bay Area but we need groups from Southern California, Oregon and maybe Hawaii, Guam and American Somoa to also be heard.
Groups like the Gulf Restoration Network are likely to play a significant role in the New Orleans hearings and both Great Lakes Conservation groups and progressive farm groups are being approached about the hearings on our fourth fresh water coast. I just returned from Grand Haven, Michigan where I was surprised to find an entire coastline without rust, corrosion or sharks. I’m now reading, “The Living Great Lakes” by Jerry Dennis.
Meanwhile, People for Puget Sound and others from the Pacific Northwest, not wanting their coastal cultures and iconic salmon to be slighted, have begun working with Senator Maria Cantwell’s office (Cantwell heads the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard) about a possible hearing either in Seattle or Washington D.C. Other regions should feel free to express their desire to be heard. As Dr. Roger Payne, the man who discovered Whale Song (for our species) stated in his Blue Vision Keynote address: “Our present predicament is actually the most singular opportunity for greatness ever offered to any generation…let us seize that opportunity to save the ocean.” (see video)
Along with outreach we’ll also need to do more “inreach” to the myriad agencies and individuals involved in the Task Force including the armed ones: the Coast Guard, Navy, Department of Defense, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Council (see below)
Green Bullets and Blue Seas
If the military can come up with a green bullet made of tungsten instead of lead (still kills people but leaves ducks unharmed) there’s no reason we can’t have an ecosystem based ocean policy that protects both our living seas and our national security. I believe there is a strong and positive correlation between Marine Spatial Planning as an evolving ecosystem management tool for the United States and Maritime Domain Awareness as a technology-based systems approach to securing real time and actionable national security intelligence on our ocean frontier. I also believe the Coast Guard, as a multi-mission agency involved in maritime safety, security and stewardship (see my book, ‘Rescue Warriors‘) is best placed to expand on this possibility, linking the four other defense and national security task force members with those from EPA, Departments of interior, Energy, Health and Human Services and others overseeing America’s environment, energy and public health. More on this MSP/MDA link in the next Blue Notes.
The Blue Beat
Blue Frontier friend Steve Chapple has a good article in the new Reader’s Digest (can you use ‘new’ and ‘Reader’s Digest’ in the same sentence?). It’s on the state of the world’s Coral Reefs with a two-page photo spread that includes this year’s Peter Benchley Science Award winners Jeremy Jackson and Nancy Knowlton… ‘The Cove,’ has just been released with much deserved fanfare and more media than any ocean documentary since Jacque C. was around (one reviewer calls it “a combination of Flipper and the Bourne Identity.”). Whether you agree with its main protagonist Ric O’Barry that keeping captive dolphins is always wrong or think it might make sense for some former military dolphins now retired in the Florida Keys, it’s pretty certain no one’s going to leave the theater thinking its OK for Japanese fishermen to trap and secretly massacre thousands of these charismatic marine mammals… Speaking of charismatic megafauna, ’60 Minutes’ just did a nice piece on sharks while The Ocean Conservancy got shark conservation public service announcements scattered like chum on the water throughout Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week.’ Steve Colbert had fun with this on his show, suggesting a more cruel and bloody series might be titled, “Human Week.”
During the Bush administration I noted that no good science went unpunished. Nowadays it seems like good science has become rewarding again. First our bodysurfng President named Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State, a marine ecologist and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to head NOAA (see Blue Notes #53). Now Marcia McNutt, who ran the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (a leading center for the study of ocean acidification), has been appointed to lead the U.S. Geological Survey. USGS is where the Department of Interior’s rock hounds (and coral cats) provide reliable earth science to the nation. Two flippers up on this choice!