Washington D.C. played host to the eighth annual Capitol Hill Oceans Week earlier this month - following the International Marine Conservation Congress just weeks before.
The theme for this year's CHOW symposium, was “The BLUE Economy: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Our Nation's Financial Future”. With a world preoccupied with stimulus packages, CHOW set about highlighting the inextricable link between the ocean and the economy, and the means to develop sound ocean policies which will help boost the nation’s flagging economy.
NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, gave the keynote address to leading government policy makers, scientists, non-governmental groups and federal agency officials who attended the three day event which was hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF). “I am tremendously encouraged by the interest being shown by Congress in addressing climate change. When you understand that by doing so has the potential for creating green jobs, creating clean sources of energy, there is real opportunity for some win wins here, both for the economy and the environment,” explained Lubchenco.
The National Ocean Economic Program (NOEP) released results from the first independent report on the ocean and the U.S. economy. This report revealed that in 2007, four in five Americans lived in coastal states, generating 83% of the nation's economic output, and contributing $11.4 trillion to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Few can argue the value of our oceans following such convincing statistics.
And its not just U.S. waters and coast lines that provide such important revenue. The marine resources of the Coral Triangle directly sustain the lives of more than 120 million people and are the cornerstone for the economies in the region.
"A panel on Natural Resource-Based Economies in the Coral Triangle was highlighted showing how countries can come together to support ocean conservation and food security on a large scale" reports Caitlyn Toropova, IUCN MPA Coordinator. "It was also interesting to see such widescale support for ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning and zoning as important tools for ocean management," she adds.
An impressive selection of panelists presented their projects, from Congressmen and women to University professors. The variety of presenters reflected the broad subjects covered, from hot topics such as aquaculture and the effects of tourism, to lesser appreciated areas such as marine-derived pharmaceuticals and agriculture. Each of these areas found the common link to the economy and climate change.