Target: Samuel D. Rauch III, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (Acting) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
Goal: Create a National Endowment for the Oceans, to fund much needed research for marine conservation efforts.
This November, our ocean’s health hangs in the balance of partisan politics and money. There are two versions of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a law first enacted in 1974 and only recently reauthorized by a joint House and Senate vote. While both are the only provisions within the act dealing primarily with ocean issues (the WRDA’s focus is management of freshwater resources), the Senate proposal lays the framework for the establishment of a National Endowment for the Oceans (NEO). According to the Ocean Conservancy, the NEO would be an authorized fund to protect our oceans’ health by supporting research, informing planning for resource management, and restoring habitat.
The NEO would authorize grants to a range of entities – state, regional, tribal, academic and non-profit groups included – to go toward research and restoration within the Great Lakes and from sea to sea. Coastal states would receive funding from about two thirds of the NEO’s annual disbursement, in proportion to the length of their and the size of their coastal population. The National Fish and Wildlife service would administer a second, national-scale grant program.
According to estimates by scientists at the Center for American Progress, we have discovered less than 5 percent of the world’s oceans. Our maps of Mars’ surface are better than our maps of U.S. territorial ocean waters. An estimated 91% of ocean species have yet to be discovered. With the Senate and the House gearing up to consolidate the two versions of the WRDA, we have a rare opportunity to petition our lawmakers to bring about greater knowledge of our oceans, and ultimately to protect them.
Emily Wosgom for the Ocean Conservancy calls the two provisions of the WRDA “The Most Important Congressional Action on the Ocean You’ve Never Heard of.”
Let’s make people listen.
Dear Samuel D. Rauch III,
I am writing to you in order to bring your attention to the two respective proposals put forward by the Senate and the House as part of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). Our oceans’ health hangs in the balance of partisan politics and money. The House version seeks to impede collaboration between the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the key federal agency responsible for coastal and marine management, and other coastal states, federal agencies, and the general public.
By contrast, the Senate version lays the groundwork for the National Endowment for the Oceans (NEO). In addition to upholding the existing National Ocean Policy, the NEO would authorize funds to state, regional, tribal, academic and non-profit entities in order to protect our oceans’ health. Helping us care for the precious resource that is our oceans, the NEO would support research, inform planning for resource management, and restore habitat.
It is imperative that we establish the National Endowment for the Oceans. In this moment, we have the rare opportunity to bring about greater knowledge of our oceans and ultimately to ensure their vitality. Taking into consideration partisan politics and clashing private interests on this issue, the value of having an authorized fund dedicated solely for this purpose is immeasurable. I ask you to take the initiative in advancing these protections for our oceans. Our ecosystems and our well-being depend upon your leadership.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Pierce College via pcmsusa.org