Healthy Ocean Law Required for Economic Sustainability of Ocean-related Tourism, Recreation and Fishing

by Robin Yeager on 08/12/2009

in Climate Change, Environment

I so love the ocean and its inhabitants that I left NYC and moved to the West Coast in the early ’90s to become a scuba instructor. I soon discovered that I needed a better-paying day job, so I took the California bar exam, and here I am — grateful that I can see the Pacific’s broad expanse every day if I choose.

The health of our oceans is under assault. Carbon dioxide is changing the ocean’s chemistry, which harms its inhabitants, and ultimately all of us. Recently, many of us learned that a “toilet bowl” effect, exacerbated by our failure to properly manage our waste, has caused a part of the Pacific twice as large as my home state of Texas to become a floating garbage dump.

Which is why it was great to read today’s post by Frances Beinecke, the Natural Resouces Defense Council’s President, in the HuffPost. She explains the economic basis for saving our oceans from climate change:

In the United States alone, ocean-related tourism, recreation and fishing are responsible for over 2 million jobs. In 2000, the U.S. ocean economy created two and a half times the economic output as the agricultural sector, and by 2004, it had contributed more than $230 billion to GDP.

Yet even though these numbers are impressive, they are on the decline. The long-term vitality of these industries rests entirely on the vitality of the oceans, and right now, they are threatened by something called ocean acidification–a force that in addition to pollution and overfishing could tear apart the wide net of marine-based commerce, from tourism to dining.

We should act on her advice and tell our legislators to pass a robust climate change bill as well as a National Healthy Oceans Act that “would be like a Clean Air Act for our oceans–a comprehensive approach to sustaining our marine resources.” You can find a sample letter on a healthy oceans bill by clicking here and on climate change legislation by clicking here.


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