Thursday, April 17, 2014

US Government's Oceans Policy

   In "A Blue Budget Beyond Sequester: Taking care of our oceans," Alexandra Adams examines the potential impact that the new fiscal budget will have on protection of our coastal communities and marine natural resources. The new budget for Fiscal Year 2015 indicates that the U.S Government will invest in protecting our coastal economies and preserving our valuable ocean resources. (Adams 2014). One of the organizations responsible for protecting our coastal economies and oceanic resources is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For fiscal year 2014, the “NOAA has proposed a budget of approximately $5.5 billion, an increase of 3.2% above the 2014 enacted funding” (Adams 2014).
    The NOAA proposed budget will be used for funding both effective ocean, coastal, and fisheries programs (Adams 2014). Unfortunately, some programs that are critical to protecting our ocean resources will not receive the funding they need to carry out their operations.  The Ocean Exploration and Research program is one of the vital programs that will be subject to a budget cut of approximately $7 million (Adams 2014).
    The budget cut for this program will lead to weaker protection for species and resources that are already under stress (Adams 2014). One of the areas being hurt as a result of the budget cuts is the deep canyons in the Atlantic Sea. The canyons and seamounts in the Atlantic have now become vulnerable to bottom trawling, seismic exploration, and oil and gas drilling (Cousteau 2011). Their vulnerability to such procedures is a direct result of recent development in technology. New developments in technology allow us to broaden our capability to explore the deep canyons (Cousteau 2011).
   Although the problems associates with recent exploration are destructive, it is extremely important to continue exploration of the oceans. A solution to some of the destructive contemporary exploration procedures would be to utilize technology with a less harmful effect on the ocean environment. Productive and efficient exploration is a necessary step towards maintaining our oceans health.  The question remains: what type of technology should be used to explore the undiscovered sections of the ocean? We should first invest our time and energy towards analyzing the sensitivity of these undiscovered areas of the ocean before we use potentially damaging means to explore. According to Alexandra Adams, a member of the National Resources Defense Council, "Moreover, with a national ocean economy that is larger than the entire U.S. farm sector in terms of jobs and economic output, keeping this economic powerhouse functioning matters to us all" (Adams 2014). The improvements made in the fiscal budget will provide extremely beneficial information to the U.S in the upcoming future.
--Nick DiSanti

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