Rep. Sam Farr says Republican-led “war on the oceans” has local impacts.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Politicians often declare battles that have nothing to do with bombs or troops, like the “war on women” or the “war on poverty.” Now, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) is coining a defensive political fight the “war on our oceans.”
In Farr’s view, Republican efforts to cut funding for the National Ocean Policy amount to a political Pearl Harbor attack. The NOP is President Barack Obama’s plan to coordinate marine-related government agencies.
California is taking the lead in marine conservation, Farr says, “but there is little knowledge of the efforts to cut the foundation from underneath us.”
House Republicans have taken legislative steps to defund programs and agencies strategic to ocean policy. Several adopted amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that passed in the House May 10 would: defund the NOP, cut Marine Mammal Commission spending, block several regional “catch-share” programs (for sustainable fisheries), eliminate a National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration climate-change website, defund the National Science Foundation’s climate-change education and block NOAA funding for turtle and salmon conservation projects.
A Dem-led amendment, however, would boost funding for the Marine Debris Program by $1.6 million.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a NOAA-affiliated agency, has seen its budget flat-line in recent years, according to MBNMS spokesman Scott Kathey; inflation has forced spending cuts to some of its programs.
“Our state is going in the opposite direction of Congress,” Farr says. “But you can’t save the ocean by protecting one coastline.”