Category Archives: Ocean Energy

Update: Policy-Makers Taking Notice on Rigs to Reefs

A large group of chub (Kyphosus sp.) school under the platform. Photo: Schmahl/FGBNMS (From NOAA)

Despite a lot of bad weather and the end of red snapper season, fishing is heating up in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing isn’t the only thing that’s hot, though, as the debate over removing non-producing oil rigs in the Gulf is also going at a fever pitch.

I wrote back in late April about the current controversy regarding plans by the Department of Interior (DOI) for the expedited removal of these retired rigs.  Lots of recreational fishermen oppose this policy, because the underwater structure creates a reef habitat for fish – nice for the fish – but also a great target for fishermen.

Several actions are underway to ensure that removal is just an option and that artificial reefing is also an option.  As I mentioned in that previous post, Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana have introduced bills in Congress.  Since then, there was a proposal to amend the Farm Bill with a provision on rigs and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is continuing the process to designate the retired rigs as “essential fish habitat.”  Also, other members of Congress, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, state fisheries managers and sportfishing groups have all written letters to Secretary Ken Salazar seeking at least a delay in implementing outright removals and, ideally, a new policy altogether.

EDF is helping call attention to these proposals and requests. In our meetings and conversations with staff at the White House and Department of Interior it has been clear that confusion is a big stumbling block.  We all need better numbers and information about what is going on.  What seems to many to be a deadline for removal is, to the government, only a requirement to file a plan for either reefing or removal.  Boat captains have tallied removals that they have seen, and the agency has different numbers.  Read More »

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Neuroconservation: Your Brain on Ocean

Roaring Ocean, Oregon Coast. Photo by Charles Seaborn.

The fate of the oceans is now in human hands, yet most of us ocean conservationists don’t know much about why people do things that harm the ocean, or how to motivate behavior that is good for the ocean.  As I note in my book, Heal the Ocean, the re-connection of people to the sea will be key to pervasive conservation and intelligent resource use.  But how can we do that?

I recently had the opportunity to learn about how humans relate to the ocean by moderating the Blue Mind: Your Brain on Ocean panel of scientists, futurists and communicators as part of the inaugural Bay Area Science Festival. We also explored how conservationists might be able to apply the insights of neuroscience, behavioral science, and psychology to improve conservation strategies and outcomes.

BLUEMiND Graphic from Inaugural Summit, June, 2011.

The panel line-up included marine biologist and research associate at the California  Academy of Sciences, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, who also has an economics degree from Duke University, and hybrid and communications expert Sarah Kornfeld. “J.”, as Dr. Nichols likes to be called, and Sarah hosted a groundbreaking conference in June at the Academy of Sciences called BLUEMiND to explore the response of the human brain to the ocean. Read More »

Also posted in Catch Share Conversations, EDF Oceans General, Fishermen Voices, Marine Protection, Pacific, Seafood, South Atlantic| Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Ocean Energy: A New Frontier

Ocean waveOcean energy is a new frontier in efforts to meet the world's ever increasing need to develop renewable energy sources. Last week, Mark Powell over at Blogfish raised the question of whether or not we should consider ocean energy. Environmental Defense Fund confidently says yes. The question with ocean energy is not whether the technology should be developed, but how it should be developed.

The oceans are a huge source of renewable energy, and could produce up to 10 percent of current energy demand. Most areas of the country would benefit: we could see wave parks off Oregon and California, tidal turbines spinning in Maine, Alaska & Washington, and efforts to harness the Gulf Stream off Florida. Those same technologies could also produce dam-less hydropower along the Mississippi River.

But, there are still a lot of things we need to figure out – like what the potential environmental impacts are and how to regulate the industry to ensure public input and transparency. Also, developers will need to be granted licenses to test and perfect their technologies. In an effort to push that process forward, EDF last year assembled a working group of utilities, energy developers, environmentalists, academics and local governments.

Our vision was to work together to find a common path for the environmentally responsible development of ocean energy, and to avoid the litigation-driven battles that have so often hampered other new forms of renewable energy. If we are going to solve the climate crisis and create a clean energy future, we have to come up with positive, forward-looking solutions.

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