Conservation Groups to Bush: Pick Ocean-Friendly Commerce Secretary - Oceana USA

Conservation Groups to Bush: Pick Ocean-Friendly Commerce Secretary

Oceana, Five Other Groups Call on President To Show Commitment to Ocean Protection, Commissions Recommendations

Press Release Date: November 24, 2004

Location: Washington


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: | tel: 954.348.1314


Leaders of Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council and four other national conservation groups sent President Bush a letter today asking him to appoint a Commerce secretary who would immediately start to implement the recommendations of the Pew and U.S. Oceans Commissions and to address the crisis in America’s oceans. “Two commissions – one appointed by this president – have made it clear: we need to act immediately to save our oceans,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “The secretary of Commerce has the power to do this, right now. And President Bush has the power to prove that he is serious about this by nominating a secretary who will attack the crisis in our oceans head on.” Signing the letter to President Bush were Oceana, NRDC, The Ocean Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth and Earthjustice. The six groups underscored the fact that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) accounts for 60 percent of the Department of Commerce’s budget and about one-third of its staff. The secretary of Commerce also has the power to put into practice many of the recommendations outlined in both the 2004 U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report released in October and the 2003 Pew Oceans Commission Report. Sharpless added: “America’s oceans are in crisis. Nearly a third of fish populations are overfished, and more than 18,000 beach closures and advisories were issued nationwide in 2003.” Both commissions recommended insulating science from politics in fishery management, reducing bycatch of unintentionally caught wildlife and protecting deep sea habitats, elevating ocean policy issues within the Executive Office of the President and improving coordination between federal agencies. Both commissions also called for changing the current scattered management style – which has resulted in heavy overfishing and wide-ranging pollution problems – to a rational, science-based approach that treats our oceans as complete ecosystems. “We have a great opportunity to start implementing the two commissions’ recommendations,” said Sharpless. “It probably has been a surprise in the past for the secretary of Commerce to find out that he or she is, in effect, the secretary of the oceans. We need President Bush to nominate a secretary of Commerce who is ready and eager to meet that challenge and who will make protecting and cleaning up our oceans a top priority.”