Bush, Congress get D+ on ocean protection efforts

Ocean advocates are urging the Bush administration to wake up and smell the marine decay. The Joint Ocean Commission — a collaboration of two expert panels — has given the U.S. a D+ for efforts to reverse the deterioration of the world’s oceans, and warned that this failure of federal will is putting the American economy at serious risk. Former energy secretary and retired Adm. James Watkins, chair of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy created by President Bush, says the administration has failed to invest in vital marine science. And former Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta, chair of the Pew Oceans Commission, criticizes Congress for draining the funding allocated to ocean issues into earmarks — pet projects in their home districts and states. In 2004, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy made more than 200 recommendations for turning the oceans around, including improved fisheries management and increased research funding — and most have been ignored.