I’m off on several weeks of travel which will take me from D.C. to Brazil, California, Portugal, France, China and Japan before November and, to my puzzlement, it was suggested that I blog about my travels. I think I might be too old to blog—but then again, maybe no one really knows how to blog. So, oddly enough, I will start with my meeting last Sunday in Washington.
I flew in from a weekend at home in Massachusetts to attend a dinner in D.C. with my colleagues from an organization called the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. This group came out of the efforts from 2001-2004 of two national commissions on ocean policy, the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Both commissions were tasked with making recommendations on U.S. ocean policy and reported in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The Joint Initiative was to keep the agenda to change ocean policy alive—hard work during the Bush Administration.
But, President Obama in July signed an Executive Order declaring a new U.S. national ocean policy just along the lines of what the commissions recommended. So now the task is to make something happen to implement that policy. Money, action at state and federal levels, new science. This was the organizing dinner for that effort and I am on the leadership council. So we ate and talked and planned and early Monday morning went to the Council on Environmental Quality at the White House to meet with senior Administration officials (Nancy Sutley, CEQ Chair and John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor) to offer our congratulations, help and advice for taking the policy into action. CI might not work that much on U.S. domestic policy, but this has international ramifications too, for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and for U.S. action abroad.
Then to Capitol Hill to meet with Senator Whitehouse from Rhode Island, who is engaged in ocean policy issues. Capitol Hill is not a happy place these days and not a lot is moving, but there is hope for ocean legislation. And the Senator, in talking about how to create public attention, told us something I hadn’t heard yet. He suggested that bringing in celebrities to advocate for the oceans is a good strategy with Congress because they really like celebrities. He said Washington was like Hollywood for ugly people with no talent. Never thought of it that way.
Well, then—off to a meeting at the National Geographic Society (NGS) with a big group of conservationists and funders to talk about ocean strategy. This is part of the new Mission Blue program at NGS led by my friends and colleagues Terry Garcia and Enric Sala. They want to evaluate the human footprint on the oceans and brought us together to talk about how to do it. Interesting but there is more to come in future meetings on that one.
Tuesday, after a day at CI, I was off traveling, this time to Pittsburgh. I gave a talk at the American Fisheries Society about implementing ecosystem-based management. It is really hard for scientists or policy makers working in fisheries or other sectors to see why they should complicate their lives by considering what other sectors are doing, so that management can happen in an integrated fashion. After all, fishery management is hard enough, let alone trying to integrate with shipping, tourism, coastal development, etc. But, that is what is needed.
Now I am sitting at Dulles waiting for the flight to Rio. More of this from Brazil—if I haven’t put you to sleep yet.
Dr. Andrew Rosenberg is Senior Vice President for CI’s Science and Knowledge division.