California Oceans in Peril

AquaFlite Custom Wetsuits, Dive Skins, and Dive Parkas

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Diver Down on March 26, 2004 at 09:03:00:

A stressed out ocean

Jim Wasserman
Associated Press
Published on Thursday, March 25, 2004


SACRAMENTO -- A decades-long explosion of coastal development combined with California's rapid population growth is significantly stressing a Pacific Ocean that absorbs sewage, chemicals, oil runoff and a host of other destructive impacts, members of the Pew Oceans Commission told state lawmakers Wednesday.
The experts, representing an 18-member commission that reported on the nation's oceans last June, cited California's growth for wiping out 90 percent of its coastal wetlands, closing polluted beaches and decimating fish populations.

"The question is are we going to allow that same kind of crisis, that same kind of collapse to happen again and again and again?" asked commission chairman and former U.S. Rep. Leon Panetta, citing the 1950s disappearance of sardines from his native Monterey Peninsula.

The oceans commission is a $5.5 million project of Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, the $4.1 billion foundation of one of the founders of Sun Oil Co., now Sunoco.

Panetta and others, including top officials of the Schwarzenegger administration, called for new governing approaches and better state coordination of ocean policies in a state of 35.3 million people. Speakers also suggested buying still more coast land to prevent development, slowing development on remaining coastal properties and curbing pollution that comes from distant inland zones, including runoff from farms.

The hearing, before the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection, came as lawmakers consider two Senate bills to create a Cabinet-level ocean protection council within state government and use state bonds to buy coastal fishing boats and retire licenses. The bills, authored by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, would ask voters in November to steer more money from Proposition 50, the $3.44 billion conservation bond passed in 2002, to ocean protection.

Both bills cleared a key hurdle Tuesday, passing the Senate Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee. "The oceans are in peril and we know why that is," Stanford University professor Stephen Palumbi told lawmakers. "The oceans have really experienced an industrial revolution in the last 50 years. Huge cargo ships, oil and gas platforms and huge sewer pipes. No longer is the ocean a huge impenetrable vast place."

Half Moon Bay fisherman Pietro Parravano, a commission member, argued that laws that presided over collapse of fish populations and loss of wetlands need updating.

"We are continuing with the very policies that facilitated this collapse," he said.

Noting that the number of commercial fishing boats in California has fallen by half since the mid-1970s, Parravano said, "I don't think the number of boats is the issue. You're starting to see major pollution damage to the ecosystems that are affecting the ocean. We've lost 90 percent of our wetlands, and wetlands are a critical nursery area for 75 percent of all marine species. You break the link in that life cycle and you can keep fishermen off the water for 30 years."

Nationwide, more than half the population lives near coastal areas, while in California an estimated 70 to 80 percent of people live within 30 miles of the ocean.

Assemblywoman Hannah Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat who chairs the select committee, said Wednesday's testimony will help guide lawmakers in budget decisions and writing new laws.

comment: Ironic isn't it. One of the founders of Sun Oil Company (Sunoco) starts a foundation that blames the oil companies, shipping companies, and sewage disposal for the problems of the ocean. What they are really saying is us, we, our pollution. Why can't people just admit we are the problem and the solution and start behaving like we should. One shouldn't shit on mother ocean! Lets have more government seeking to avoid blame for their actions telling us what we already know in our hearts is the right thing to do. We may feel good about labeling storm drains with "Goes to ocean" stencils, so we throw our used motor oil out in the trash instead. mmmmmmm

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]