Zero federal fish stocks managed solely by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are known to be healthy, and this number has not changed since 2001, finds a new report released today by Environment Texas and the Marine Fish Conservation Network (Network). Important game fish and menu items including red snapper, greater amberjack, and vermilion snapper continue to be fished at unsustainable rates despite the fact that the National Marine Fisheries Service lists them as overfished.
"It is in the best interest of the health of our oceans that science, not politics be our guiding principle for all management decisions,” said Luke Metzger, Advocate for Environment Texas.
AUSTIN—Some of our best-known natural areas, including Big Bend Ranch State Park and Padre Island National Seashore, are threatened with development and other harmful activities, according to a report released today by Environment Texas, the Save Our Springs Alliance, Texas Committee on Natural Resources, Texans for State Parks and Creating Common Ground. The groups highlighted the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer region, where Austin city staff have warned that 7500 acres are immediately threatened with development. “If we continue to allow development in natural areas like Barton Springs, Caddo Lake and our state parks, the beauty and character of our state will be lost forever,” said Environment Texas Advocate Luke Metzger. “It’s time for our elected officials to invest in Texas’ natural heritage and to provide the planning and resources we need to preserve Texas for future generations.”
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson proposed changes to the Toxics Release Inventory Program (TRI) in October 2005 that would significantly decrease the information that the public and state and local officials have about harmful chemicals released into Texas’ water, air, and land.
“On the anniversary of the deadliest chemical accident in history in Bhopal, India, Administrator Johnson wants to help corporate polluters hide toxic pollution,” stated TexPIRG Advocate Metzger. “The Bush Administration’s proposal puts corporations first and communities last.”
President Bush responded to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's (USCOP) report today by signing an executive order to establish a cabinet-level Committee on Ocean Policy. Environment Texas, the new home of TexPIRG's environmental work, commends the White House for recognizing that our oceans are in crisis.
The creation of a cabinet-level body to coordinate the management of our oceans sounds promising, and we remain cautiously optimistic about the initiative the administration seems to be taking on this issue. But the devil is in the details, and we urge the administration to ensure that the guiding principles of the Committee on Ocean Policy are to protect, restore and conserve our oceans and coasts
Today, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) delivered its final report and recommendations for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy to President Bush. Mandated by Congress in the Oceans Act of 2000, and appointed by the President himself, the Commission's take home message is undeniable - our oceans are in deep trouble. The Bush administration now has 90 days to respond and make policy recommendations to Congress.
While those who recognize the fragility of marine ecosystems applaud most of the USCOP's recommendations, it is unclear that the Bush administration will make oceans the priority it should. Environment Texas, the new home of TexPIRG's environmental work, urges the Administration to heed the alarm bells sounded by the Commission. The Bush administration should act on this historic opportunity to shift course and take action to protect and conserve our precious and valuable oceans.