Tag Archives: Kulongoski

Ocean issues pick up steam along the West Coast

I’m not sure how serious to take the “West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health,” but some good things may come from it.

I realize that it is mainly a plea for federal money to deal with issues affecting the Pacific Ocean and the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California.

Beyond that, the new 116-page plan released this week is much more focused than I expected when Govs. Chris Gregoire, Ted Kulongoski and Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to work together in September 2006.

I’m not sure where things will go from here, since the governor’s agreement lacks any kind of formal government structure usually required to accept and disburse federal funds. Nevertheless, ocean issues have become more pronounced today than they were just two years ago:

  • There’s a greater understanding of a dead zone off the coast, along with a realization that more research is desperately needed.
  • Climate change has grown in importance as a national issue, and the governors want help in figuring out where coastal inundation will take place.
  • Offshore energy issues are bigger today than just a united front against oil drilling on the continental shelf. The discussion now includes elements of when and where to locate turbines that can produce electricity from winds, tides and currents.
  • Poisonous bacteria and algae have grown in significance, and many West Coast fish stocks are in worse shape.

“While Washington is making significant strides with state initiatives such as the Puget Sound Partnership, the crisis facing salmon this year is an example of why we must address these issues together as a region,” Gregoire said in a press release. “Our waters know no boundaries. This plan commits us to combining our resources and ideas, and prioritizes restoring and maintaining the health of our marine and coastal waters to ensure a sustainable future.”

The plan provides a fairly concise discussion of the major problems facing our oceans, particularly the Pacific. To check out the plan, press releases and correspondence, go to the West Coast Oceans Web site and click on “documents.” Reporter Lisa Stiffler wrote about the issue in today’s Seattle PI, while Kenneth Weiss and Michael Rothfeld covered it for the L.A. Times.

The seven priority areas listed in the new plan are:

• Ensuring clean coastal waters and beaches;
• Protecting and restoring healthy ocean and coastal habitats;
• Promoting the effective implementation of ecosystem-based management of our ocean and coastal resources;
• Reducing adverse impacts of offshore development;
• Increasing ocean awareness and literacy among our citizens;
• Expanding ocean and coastal scientific information, research and monitoring; and
• Fostering sustainable economic development throughout our diverse coastal communities.