Chris ThomasWashington already has a major effort underway to clean up Puget Sound, while a task force meeting around the country is charged with creating the first national policy for managing oceans. From the effects of climate change to fish conservation, to water quality along the U.S. coastlines, many ocean areas are in trouble. Elliott Norse, who heads the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Bellevue, thinks a national policy will offer a much-needed fresh approach to the problems.
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"When we thought about the oceans, we would think about individual activities - dredging, fishing, or shipping - and as a result, we have a hodgepodge of agencies and a hodgepodge of laws, and often they conflict. This task force is going to change this."
Norse says the U.S. has the largest ocean area of any nation in the world, and there are plenty of reasons to do a better job of protecting it.
"Half the oxygen you breathe is generated by the oceans. They provide - oh, a sixth of the world's animal protein. They protect our shorelines, and more people live in the coastal zone than anywhere else."