Finishing Furloughs and Focusing on Forums
Last Friday brought some welcome news, not just for the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers and contractors but for anyone invested in our nation’s scientific enterprise. When the president signed a three-week continuing resolution ending the longest government shutdown in history, it meant that many scientists and researchers around the country could get back to doing what they do best – pushing American scientific knowledge and innovation forward. Unfortunately, the impacts of the 35-day partial shutdown will be felt in the ocean science community for months, possibly even years, to come. I hope the important work that began again today will continue unabated beyond February 15, when congressional leaders and the president must reach an agreement to keep all the government’s lights on, laboratories open, and research enterprise sailing ahead. Plunging our federal science agencies into darkness and despair once again will do nothing to help us remain the global leader in science and technology as we seek to increase sustainability, prosperity, and security around our oceanic planet.
Speaking of sustainability, prosperity, and (food) security, last week we also released the proceedings document from our 2018 Industry Forum (hosted in collaboration with Meridian Institute), U.S. Offshore Aquaculture: Will We Fish or Cut Bait? While you can read the entire document here, one topic remained clear throughout the day-long discussion. While the practice has many potential benefits (from growth of the blue economy to enhanced global food security), any efforts to advance the offshore finfish aquaculture industry in the United States must balance rigorous, science-based environmental protections with a federal regulatory and permitting system that encourages entrepreneurial investment. I look forward to working with stakeholders to take the next steps to put this into practice and make offshore finfish aquaculture a science-based, environmentally responsible, financially viable industry.
For Zombie Microbes, Deep-Sea Buffet is Just Out of Reach
Far below the ocean floor, sediments are teeming with bizarre zombie-like microbes. Although they’re technically alive, they grow in slow motion, and can take decades for a single cell to divide—something their cousins at the surface do in a matter of minutes. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is beginning to pick apart how they survive by examining their source of “food”—nearby molecules of organic carbon. The study helps further our understanding of the limitations of life on Earth and could help inform how life might exist on other planets.
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