In the realm of modern ocean science, there is surprisingly little debate. Both the presidentially appointed U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the independent Pew Oceans Commission have come of the same conclusion: Our ocean ecosystems are stretched to the max and will collapse if we don't take serious measures to avert that disaster.
Both commissions also declared the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to be the most successful of the councils. But having the best record of the dismally managed regional councils is not much to be proud of. Around the country, 26 percent of fish stocks are overfished, and 21 percent are currently experiencing overfishing. There's a connection between these problems and the fact that 60 percent of council members have direct financial interest in the resources they manage. And as your article (Empire, Sept. 21) reported, there are problems in North Pacific fisheries management that remain unsolved.
Our new oceans ethic should consider our management successes along with our failures, and Alaskans have particular experience and ability to help do both. But the science is clear: Without major changes to our nation's ocean policy, ecosystems and coastal economies around the country are at serious risk.
Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG)