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Ocean Commission Report Offers Opportunity to Set New Course In Managing Our Oceans Wisely

April 16, 2004

The release of the preliminary report of the US Commission on Ocean Policy today offers an opportunity to set a new national course in the conservation, management and wise use of the oceans, say scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Robert Gagosian, President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Senior Scientists Kenneth Brink and Andrew Solow serve on the Commission’s Science Advisory Panel, appointed in 2002 by the Commission in consultation with the National Academy of Sciences. Gagosian also advises the Ocean Commission’s Investment and Implementation Working Group.

As members of the Science Advisory Panel, the WHOI scientists provided expert scientific counsel and assistance to the Commission in its development of recommendations to the President and Congress for a comprehensive national ocean policy, mandated by the Oceans Act of 2000. The policy addresses a broad range of issues, from ocean governance to the stewardship of marine resources and pollution prevention to enhancing and supporting marine science, commerce and transportation.

“This report will provide the missing strategies and policy framework for our national ocean agenda,” Gagosian said. “Some of the problems we face today – overfishing, shoreline erosion, pollution, harmful algal blooms – are not new. Others, like dead zones and introduction of invasive species, are growing in prominence as more people move to coastal areas. These problems call for both new strategies and better information. If the Commission’s recommendations are upheld and these initiatives undertaken, our country will be on a new course of world leadership in not only understanding our oceans but in conserving, managing and using them wisely.”

Robert Gagosian has been Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) since 1994 and was named President in 2000. An organic geochemist, he joined the Institution staff in 1972. He has served on several National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research advisory committees, and was Chairman of the Board of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, an organization of more than 65 marine laboratories and organizations in the U.S. Gagosian has participated in a dozen research cruises and four major field programs, and is the author or co-author of more than 80 scientific research articles and reports.

Kenneth Brink is a Senior Scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department and Director of the Coastal Ocean Institute and the Rinehart Coastal Center at the Institution. He has been a member of the Institution staff since 1980. He recently served as Chair of the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board and is a past President of The Oceanography Society. He was recently named chief scientist of the Ocean Research Interactive Observatory Networks (ORION) program office, based in Washington.

Andrew Solow is an expert on environmental and ecological statistics and has been a member of the Institution’s staff since 1987. He was a member on the editorial boards of Ecology, Environmental and Ecological Statistics and the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Solow also has served on various national advisory committees and working groups.

The Commission’s Preliminary Report released today will be available for review and comment by the nation’s governors and interested stakeholders through May 21. The Commission will then review the comments received from the governors and others. Once all comments are considered, the Commission will prepare and deliver its final report and recommendations on a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy to the President and Congress.

The US Ocean Commission began its work in September 2001, with a series of 15 public meetings and 17 additional site visits around the country. Commissioners visited the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in July 2002, and several WHOI staff members spoke at the Commission’s public meetings in Boston and Chicago. During their site visit to WHOI commissioners learned about abrupt climate change, ships and ocean observatories, coastal management, biodiversity and genetics, hydrothermal vents and the deep biosphere.