How can the U.S. and China work together to advance global interests toward a safe, sustainable, prosperous ocean? I spent three days in Honolulu with seven ocean representatives from across the U.S. and eight from China to examine these topics in detail at a forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress (CAP) titled “Blue Future 2017: Mapping Opportunities for U.S.-China Ocean Cooperation.”
My takeaway: While the political, geographic, and social differences between our nations remain significant, I am optimistic that ocean science and technology represent a means by which we just might work above and beyond our differences to realize a bright blue future for everyone. Thanks to the numerous, existing partnerships and cooperative programs between many of COL’s member institutions and Chinese counterparts – academic, corporate, and even personal – the groundwork has been laid. The University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology is one example; its dean, Dr. Brian Taylor (long-time COL member representative, trustee, and previous board chairman) explained their numerous collaborative research programs at one of the dinner events during the week.
I look forward to working with our members and organizations like CAP in the days ahead, along with our partners in China (including some new friends), to better understand and hopefully expand our bilateral trans-Pacific Ocean collaboration. A glimpse into China’s ocean emphasis and perspective can be gained from reading about their Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative that was released during our forum. It describes in detail how China intends to establish the Maritime Silk Road in the years ahead while adhering to principles around a sustainable ocean and strong economic partnerships. It is well worth the read.
Meanwhile, back on the mainland … this week, the House Budget Committee is hoping to unveil their Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget resolution, a nonbinding concurrent resolution (passed by both chambers but not signed by the president) that serves as a blueprint for the appropriations process. While nothing has been finalized, word on the Hill of the tentative agreement is that it cuts nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending by more than $7 billion from FY 2017 levels. COL joined 2,000 other organizations in March in requesting adequate funding for these NDD programs, which include everything from weather monitoring to scientific research to public health. As always, we’ll be watching and weighing in as needed.
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Marine Predators Have Grown Larger As Their Prey Remain The Same Size
Shells can survive a remarkably long time in the fossil record, such that if a person slurped up several oysters and carefully saved the shells, scientists millions of years into the future might be able to document the ancient meal. Adiël Klompmaker was struck by a similar idea a few years ago, when he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History (University of Florida). He was preparing a database of drill holes created by marine predators in shells, and it occurred to him that the shells had untapped potential as “smoking gun” evidence for over 500 million years of marine predator-prey interactions. He and his colleagues have since conducted a detailed analysis of thousands of such shells, revealing that numerous marine predators have grown steadily larger and more powerful over time, while their preferred prey has remained relatively small.