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🗳️ "The Positive Possibilities in Ocean Policy"


Photo by Paul Einerhand / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Eric Schwaab | Senior Vice President, Oceans & Ecosystems | Environmental Defense Fund
Category: 🗳️ Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:32] “The biggest overarching problem [of oceans], and it's not unique to the US, is climate driven shifts. […] The ocean has absorbed a lot of the warming associated with climate pollution over decades and that's catching up to us. […] We're seeing impacts to fish productivity and distribution habitats all around our coasts, as well as to chemistry and physical aspects, ocean acidification, potential shifts in ocean currents. […] Beyond that we've got localized pollution. […] We've got nutrient based pollutions in places like the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay that originate far upstream. We've got plastics pollution [and] big nutrient driven dead zones in many inshore waters that have significant impacts on people and fish and other aquatic resources.”

[5:37] “The US Federal fisheries law, which is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, was reauthorized back in 2006 […]. It for the first time set requirements to end overfishing and to rebuild depleted stocks in a […] certain period for all federally managed fisheries. That time period was in […] 2010/2011 […]. We have made tremendous strides in rebuilding over fish stocks, rebuilding abundance, in ending overfishing in many of our federally managed fisheries. And in fact, in many ways that positioned the US to become a model around the world for effective science based sustainable fisheries management. That's not to say that's a problem that is completely behind us. We have ongoing challenges in some places. It's also a problem that is going to be challenged again, as climate driven shifts move fish in and out of different jurisdictional boundaries.”

[8:39] “We're moving [away] from a focus on oil and gas exploration offshore, which has a myriad of problems, as well as […] impact […] on renewable energy offshore. [...] We'll still have to have lots of discussion around potential conflicts between wind sites and fishing activities and shipping and other traditional uses of the ocean. But we're much better off having those discussions than we might be having discussions around conflicts with oil and gas exploration.”

[11:43] “One of the things we learned during COVID was that pretty complicated seafood supply chains aren't really in our best interest, economically, or […] from a food security perspective. So there's a lot of really important discussion right now in this country about […] where we are going to procure animal based protein in the future. […] We're very much engaged now in a conversation about what the future of finfish aquaculture off of US coasts could or should look like. And if we're going to do it, how do we do it in environmentally responsible and sustainable ways? And how do we do it in a way […] like we did with wild capture fisheries under the Magnuson Act […]? ”

[16:21] “Our basic view […] is that protected areas have a very important place in the ocean conservation agenda. […] I think that the considerations that we want to make sure happen is that […] we ensure that the conversation is just not about that 30% [of protected ocean area], but about the other 70%. And the most effective marine protected areas are ones that are complemented by sustainable management principles around them. They're also very effective if local people in those places […] appreciate them, see the benefits that are derived from the protected areas, and therefore […] ensuring their protection […] for […] decades to come.”

[21:27] “Historically the ocean absorbed much of the temperature change. We also know that the ocean absorbs a lot of the carbon that has been produced. So we talk a lot these days about nature based climate solutions. […] There are clearly nature based climate solutions that are part of a healthy ocean ecosystem […] in coastal mangrove systems, in salt marshes, in sea grasses. […] We know those systems take up and store carbon, mangroves at a very high rate, although their global footprint is relatively small. Increasingly, there's attention to seaweeds, […] kelp, other products […]. We know that seaweeds have a very large sort of global footprint and if restored and protected can be a big part of the carbon [uptake] and capture solution. […] What's only now beginning to get popularly […] is the exchange of carbon in the open ocean environment and the role that […] large marine animals, like whales, play in sort of stimulating a local ecosystem.”

[27:36] “I'm optimistic because first of all, this renewed attention that the US is bringing to the game […]. But I also think there are people around the world that sort of understand the interdependence between […] their livelihoods […] and […] healthy ocean ecosystems. […] And there are also sort of great breakthroughs in technologies, in science that are allowing us to understand […] the important role that oceans can play and how we can help the oceans to play that role. […] I think we have sort of no choice but to act. And I think we certainly have the wherewithal to act.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 29 min | 🗓️ 04/15/2021
✅ Time saved: 27 min

Additional Links:
EDF: Oceans