As the US government struggles to develop a viable budget that does not send the country into a recession, we at Marine Conservation Institute believe that drastically cutting funds for vital ocean and coastal conservation programs is NOT an answer to our nation’s financial woes. By conserving our ocean ecosystems, we are investing also in our ocean and coastal economies, which includes living marine resources, tourism, recreation, transportation, construction, and mineral extraction.
According to the National Ocean Economics Program, the US ocean and coastal economy together contribute more than $138 billion annually to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Threats to our oceans and coasts are numerous: destruction of habitats, depletion of fish stocks, increased ocean acidity which affects sea life, marine debris that kills marine mammals and seabirds, and the increasing number of threatened and endangered species.
Without adequate funding for marine conservation agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ocean health will suffer, and so will our nation’s economy.
Unfortunately, NOAA’s budget to conserve and manage our oceans and coasts is facing a reduction of greater than 14%, under a pending House bill. Meanwhile, the USFWS is facing a 20% reduction.
Marine Conservation Institute is dedicated to maintaining healthy, living oceans for us and future generations. We will fight to ensure conservation is viewed as an investment in our future, and help Congress cut ineffective programs. Congress needs to set budget priorities that sustain our natural resources-based economies—including those dependent on a healthy, living ocean.
William J. Chandler
Vice President for Government Affairs, Marine Conservation Institute