SAN FRANCISCO - January 30 - California made the grade in a new Ocean Policy Report Card issued today by the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. The state rose to the head of the class with an A-, compared to a C- grade for national ocean governance reform. California deserves top billing for its ocean policy leadership, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
NRDC said California deserves special recognition for creating a network of marine protected areas, akin to national parks and wildlife refuges on land; implementing an interagency council to promote coordination and innovation; and establishing an ocean trust fund to help finance the transition to a healthy ocean. California’s move toward a holistic approach is an important shift away from managing on a species-by-species basis, which often misses broader systemic threats, the group said.
The report card measures how quickly and how well states and the federal government implement recommendations from two recent national commissions established to ensure the health and productivity of ocean resources. The report card is available at www.jointoceancommission.org/
Following is a statement by John Adams, NRDC Founding Directorand a former member of the Pew Oceans Commission of leaders from science, conservation, fisheries, business, and government:
“The report card gives California well-deserved credit for setting a national model for responsible and innovative ocean management. We applaud the governor and other state leaders who pioneered these achievements. This kind of leadership is sorely missing from the federal administration.
“Californians love the ocean and depend on it for food, fun and work. But its resources are not immune to the crisis facing our nation and the world -- a crisis caused by overuse, loss of habitat and pollution. A number of our rockfish and other nearshore species are depleted, and the average size of fish across a broad range of West Coast species has declined by 45 percent over the past two decades.
“California has taken bold steps to address these problems, increasing last year’s ocean budget and adopting a preferred alternative in a landmark program to create a string of protected ocean jewels on the state’s central coast. Now the Fish and Game Commission must hold firm to that choice and resist efforts to weaken the network before its final decision in April.
“California is blessed with enormously productive and diverse ocean life. We need to make sure it stays that way. Its comprehensive approach is a model for other states and the federal government. We look forward to continued leadership from Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature.”