In its first public response to recommendations it requested from a panel of marine experts, the Bush administration last week announced the creation of a Committee on Ocean Policy designed to head off growing problems with marine ecosystems. The committee will spearhead federal efforts to limit overfishing, convert warships to research vessels and improve monitoring of ocean conditions in U.S. coastal areas.
“The commission provided us a substantial analysis of the problems we face when it comes to our oceans, and with the action today, the President is leading with a substantial set of solutions,” says James Connaughton, who will head the new committee as part of his job as chairperson of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Environmentalists complain that, rather than actually address problems, the White House has simply created another study commission. They warn that the depletion of fisheries and marine biodiversity, increased ocean pollution, and unsustainable coastal development are wreaking havoc on oceans at home and abroad. While some praise the Bush administration for taking initial steps to address marine problems, others point out that the White House has ignored several of the recommendations made by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, an independent committee called for by Congress.