Jon White – From the President’s Office: 11-18-2019

2019-11-18T16:33:20+00:00 November 18, 2019|

Of Summits, Seabeds, and 60 Minutes

Last week was certainly a notable week in U.S. ocean science. The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and Council on Environmental Quality convened their first-ever summit on ocean science, “The White House Summit on Partnerships in Ocean Science and Technology.” The successful event brought together about 100 prominent practitioners and leaders from across the ocean community to determine how we can truly advance multisector partnerships to explore, understand, and protect the ocean as the global maritime economy and associated activity grows and evolves in the days and years ahead. These partnerships must include federal ocean agencies; academia; industry; and the broad nonprofit sector that also encompasses philanthropy, aquariums, associations, NGOs, and societies.

I was humbled to be in attendance and so proud that many individuals from within our consortium played leading roles. I was also very glad our consortium was recognized numerous times as important to advancing partnerships on an exponentially greater scale than we have to date. Given that all of the nongovernmental sectors listed above comprise our consortium, I don’t see how the community can move forward to achieve the goals of this summit and reach much greater ocean partnership heights without COL playing a significant role. I truly look forward to working with all of these sectors to ensure we take advantage of this momentum to advance ocean partnerships and the critically important scientific and technological advances they can enable — and on a grander scale that we have come close to achieving thus far! If we don’t do this, I truly fear for the future sustainability and prosperity of our ocean and our maritime nation, which so badly need rapid growth of the most important ships in ocean science and technology — partnerships and leadership.

From the summit last Thursday, I rapidly descended (figuratively) toward the deep seabed and a much-anticipated (at least by me) 60 Minutes segment on the scientific and geopolitical issues associated with deep sea mining. I was very happy that two of the individuals interviewed were from within COL— Dr. Craig Smith from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and myself. I thought it was an excellent piece, though I do wish they had included a large component of my 40-minute studio interview that stressed the crucial need for world-leading, U.S. ocean science and technology to be at the international forefront of this potential commercial boom to ensure ocean health and commercial productivity are balanced by the best possible, scientifically led decision making. Damaging the little-understood sea floor environment could have catastrophic, long-term consequences that reach far beyond the immediate area being mined. Without U.S. accession to UNCLOS, our nation will not be able to play the badly needed, science-based leading role in the international ocean mining space, and I fear it will unfold in a manner that is potentially harmful to the global economy, to our national and global security, and most importantly — to the future sustainability and prosperity of the ocean upon which we all depend.

Member Highlight
USM’s Graham Appointed To Lead Consortium For Ocean Leadership Board of Trustees
Dr. Monty Graham, Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), was recently selected to chair the national Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) Board of Trustees based in Washington, D.C. Graham will serve as chair of the board through 2021.

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