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Ocean Champions: Political Champions for Ocean Conservation

Dear Friend,

Over the past several weeks we've witnessed some promising progress on the ocean conservation front in Washington, DC and we'd like to work with you to keep the momentum going.

The most recent action — just yesterday — was passage of the Harmful Algal Bloom Act (S.1254)(HABs Act) by the House Science and Technology Committee. This bill has long been one of our top legislative priorities.

While modest, this legislation is a significant step forward in the national commitment to recognizing and addressing the growing problem of toxic and harmful algal blooms and hypoxia including dead zones. A commitment amplified by the bi-partisan nature of the support — passage without a single dissenting vote. We'd like to offer special thanks to ocean champion Congresswoman Bonamici (D-OR-1) who worked closely with Congressman Posey (R-FL-8) to move the bill forward. Congresswoman Bonamici even thanked Ocean Champions in her opening remarks for our long efforts on this legislation.

This success, coupled with the passage earlier this year in the Senate (thanks to the leadership of Senators Nelson (D-FL) and Portman (R-OH) and many ocean champions), means prospects are good that the HABs Act could reach the President's desk for signature into final law this year.

On other ocean fronts, Senator Whitehouse and other ocean champions fought a long, spirited battle to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans (NEO). While ultimately unsuccessful — this time — they were able to secure in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) a provision authorizing a new program within the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out projects that would enhance ocean and coastal ecosystem resiliency. While a more modest step forward than a full NEO, given that the President's request for the Army Corp's FY14 budget was $4.8 billion, Senator Whitehouse's efforts have established a nice beachhead for bigger and better things to come — and we look forward to continue to work with him to help make it happen.

Final negotiations of WRRDA presented another ocean victory. Congressman Flores’ (R-TX-17) harmful anti-National Ocean Policy (NOP) amendment was stripped out. Implementation of NOP can now move forward — ALL positive ocean developments.

And, let's not forget that four ocean treaties were ratified earlier this year by the Senate. The next step is very challenging, of course — passing the implementing language legislatively. Still, progress is being made. S267 — the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act/Port States Measure - has good prospects for final passage, and the White House Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing the legislative language associated with the other three treaties.

So, what to make of all of this? The basic message is that by working hard, pragmatically, and collaboratively — We can get good things done for our oceans.  As this steady legislative progress shows quite clearly, we — as a community — cannot and should not be dissuaded by all of the national hand-wringing over a grid-locked, dead-in-the-water Congress. By teaming up with the ocean champions in Congress - Senators Begich, Whitehouse, Schatz, Portman, and Representatives Bonamici, DeFazio, Farr, Capps and Pingree — and many others — progress is being made.

What’s next? Please continue to lend your voice as advocates and watch for alerts when we will need your help to get Congress’ attention. And help us elect more ocean champions to Congress! None of this can happen without champions leading the way. Ocean Champions 2014 goal is to elect 50 ocean champions in the November election — more of then is only a stronger election. We need your help. Please contribute today.

For the oceans,

David Wilmot, Ph.D.
President and Co-Founder

Oily Bird


 
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