Ocean Rescue

A New York Times Editorial

Most of the world’s important commercial fish species have been declining for years. Nearly one-fourth are unable, essentially, to reproduce. The biggest cause of the deterioration in ocean health — bigger than climate change or pollution — is overfishing. American fisheries are in better shape than most but not by much.

The White House seems prepared to give this issue high priority. George W. Bush, though more sensitive to marine issues than other environmental problems, was slow to offer remedies, the most important being the establishment of three large protected marine reserves in the Pacific. President Obama has engaged the matter early in the game.

He recently ordered a new task force to develop a national oceans policy. He said he wants a more unified federal approach to ocean issues, now spread across 20 different agencies operating under 140 separate laws. He also wants a plan for allocating resources among competing interests like fishing and oil exploration.

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