The Blue New Deal
I just heard from a longtime friend on the Hill that later today, Congress will introduce a “Blue New Deal” in both chambers with support from the president and all ocean agencies. Congress and the administration are joining forces to create a strategic, cost-loaded plan that will address ocean science and technology needs nationwide, bringing together federal agencies with their partners in academia, industry, state and local government, and NGOs to work on key common goals. I’m pleased that our nation’s leaders are taking these critical next steps to protecting our ocean’s future and that they’re setting such an ambitious timeline — they plan to see these goals realized by the end of 2020.
Some highlights of the legislation will include:
- Increased funding for ocean and coastal observing systems, with the ultimate goal of a fully integrated national ocean observing framework generating uninterrupted, 24/7 data.
- Establishment of a unified (virtually or physically), secure ocean data portal and repository, which will make data from all ocean observations more widely accessible and understandable to scientists, decisionmakers, educators, and the public.
- Federal support for K-12 ocean science courses and extracurricular activities that will expose more students (regardless of where they live) to ocean science and increase ocean literacy.
- Creation of FISH ROE (Finding Integrated Solutions to Habitat Resiliency and the Ocean Economy), a revolutionary incubator connecting researchers and practitioners in traditional and new ocean industries with biologists and ecologists specializing in coastal and ocean ecosystems.
- Introduction of the BAIT (Broad Aquaculture Innovative Testbed) project to build an environmentally responsible, integrated, multitrophic aquaculture system, rapidly moving transdisciplinary, cutting-edge aquaculture research into practice.
- Initiatives at the national, regional, state, and local levels to create or update coastal infrastructure based on local sea level rise projections.
- Pilot programs across the nation addressing fisheries health concerns with innovative management strategies tailored to regional and ocean-wide needs.
- Several new programs dealing with marine debris and ocean plastic pollution, including research into collection technologies and new standards for waste-water management, such as microplastic catch filters. Included will be an initiative to dramatically increase the number of recycling centers nationwide and create a clear path to move more recycled materials into manufactured products.
- A rejuvenation of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) to convene, plan, and manage the necessary interagency and public-private partnership programs to rapidly advance the above and many other sustainable initiatives toward an ocean that is well managed and prosperous, meeting the needs of humanity and all other life on our planet.
There’s just one hurdle thing that must be considered in all of this …
While there are certainly good intentions by many of our ocean champions, no such grand, sweeping effort exists (at least, not now). I think we would all love to see such ambitious commitment to securing the health and future of our ocean, our nation, and the world we influence. I fear if we don’t, future generations may look at us as the real fools.
UGA Scientists Investigate Marine Murder Mystery
A team of University of Georgia investigators is working on a murder mystery, not your everyday who-done-it, but one in which the investigators are scientists, and the victims are thousands of tiny oyster larvae. The mystery began the in the summer of 2017 at the UGA Shellfish Research Laboratory, a unit of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island near Savannah. The shellfish lab is leading a movement to develop oyster aquaculture in Georgia and operates the state’s only oyster hatchery.
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