John D. Rockefeller, IVSenator
Our oceans and coasts are sources of great economic and environmental wealth for the nation. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. import and export freight is transported through seaports. Our 3.4 million square mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the largest in the world, covers an area greater than the entire United States.
The Blue Economy – jobs and economic opportunities that emerge from our oceans, Great Lakes, and coastal resources – generates more than 50 percent of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product and provides over 70 million jobs to Americans. Simply put, the economic health of America is undeniably linked to the riches of our oceans and coasts.
Today’s witnesses have compelling stories to tell us about the Blue Economy and its importance. From food to fuel, we rely on oceans for goods and services that drive the economy. America is on the cusp of major developments that could produce new “blue” jobs in renewable ocean energy development, aquaculture, marine drugs and products, and ocean exploration – I look forward to hearing from each individual here.
Before we begin, I want to take a moment to highlight what is, in my view, the most prominent threat to our Blue Economy – climate change. Climate change is acidifying the waters, warming oceans, and creating giant dead zones – jeopardizing the $111 billion commercial seafood industry and the promising development of new products from our oceans. Sea-level rise is threatening coastal communities and the maritime industries that provide millions of jobs.
There are key steps that we must take now to sustain and grow our nation’s blue economy.
We must strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is my strong hope that the Administration will commit to doubling the budget of NOAA by 2012. Currently, NOAA operates through more than 200 separate authorizations creating overlaps and disconnects among different parts of the agency. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy recommended that Congress establish an organic act for NOAA to codify its mission. I support this goal and look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to enact legislation establishing NOAA.
We also must look for new and innovative ways to plan for uses of our oceans and coasts that supports economic growth, protects ecological services and unique marine areas, and reduces conflicts among users.
Balancing use and protection of marine resources for current and future generations requires strong science-based management of our oceans and coasts, interagency coordination, and federal-state-local partnerships.
For this reason, I sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration working through the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council of Environmental Quality, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop a comprehensive science-based federal marine planning framework to guide decisions on ocean use and conservation and to promote ecosystem-based management.
In closing I want to state very clearly – for those who live on our coasts and those who do not, like my state – we must all be a part of the effort to improve the health and well-being of our oceans. America’s economic growth and the livelihood of so many workers depend on the decisions we make now. What is good for the health of our coastal communities and oceans is good for the nation.
Maria CantwellSenatorGood Morning. I’d like to thank my colleague Senator Snowe and all of our witnesses for participating in today’s hearing.Today, we will shine a spotlight on the Blue Economy and its contribution to our nation’s economic health and revitalization.The “Blue Economy” – the jobs and economic opportunities that emerge from our oceans, Great Lakes, and coastal resources – is one of the main tools to rebuilding the U.S. economy.Americans from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Seattle, Washington and as far inland as Topeka, Kansas rely on our oceans for numerous goods and services from food to fuel to rain for crops and cures for cancer.Today, the ocean and coastal economies of the U.S. provide over 50 million jobs for Americans and contribute nearly 60 percent of our GDP.We also rely on our oceans for the trade in goods vital to our economy. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. import and export freight is transported through seaports.In my home state of Washington, our history and economy is based on a rich maritime tradition that contributes as much as $3 billion to the state’s economy each year from commercial fisheries alone.For example, there are 3,000 vessels in Washington’s fishing fleet that employ 10,000 fishermenThere is also great untapped wealth in our oceans that will lead to new jobs and businesses.Fungus living on seaweed, bacteria growing in the mud of the deep sea, and sea fans may hold the keys to curing cancer and other deadly disease.Aquaculture is a growing industry along our shorelines and in the deep blue waters.And concern with climate change is fueling interest in new blue jobs in renewable ocean energy.According to a report released yesterday by the National Ocean Economics Program, the strength of the Blue Economy is dependent on the health of our oceans and coasts. And today, our oceans are in peril.Climate changes, ocean acidification, pollution, overfishing, rising sea levels, and marine debris all have economic, social, and environmental costs to ocean and coastal economies.Protecting our oceans is an environmental and economic imperative.There are steps we need to take to maintain our Blue Economy.First, we must pass comprehensive climate change legislation to reduce our carbon emissions.Second, we must strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by doubling its budget in the next four years and creating a strong mission for the agency through an organic act.Third, we must find new approaches to incorporate ecosystem-based management in oceans.Our Blue Economy faces an uncertain future.It has been a foundation of our economy for centuries in the past and it hold tremendous potential to be growing economic generator for our future.The challenge is to strike a balance between maintaining the economic and social benefits of our oceans and coasts while protecting vital marine ecosystem functions.OTHER OPENING STATEMENTSBefore I recognize the witnesses, Senator Snowe, would you like to make an opening statement?Would any other members wish to speak?WITNESSESI would like to thank our panel of expert witnesses for being here today, and I look forward to their testimony.Please take no more than 5 minutes to summarize each of your remarks. Your full statement will be entered into the record.###
Dr. William FenicalDirector, Center for Marine Biotechnology and BiomedicineScripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California
The Honorable Deerin Babb-BrottAssistant Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Zone Management, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental AffairsState of Massachusetts
Dr. Willett M. KemptonAssociate Professor, Marine PolicyUniversity of Delaware
Brad WarrenDirector of Ocean Health, Sustainable Fisheries PartnershipSustainable Fisheries Partnership Seattle Office
Alexandra CousteauFounder and PresidentBlue Legacy International
Dr. Judith T. KildowSocial Scientist, Director, National Oceans Economics ProgramMonterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute