Whitman Strategy Group

Ocean advocates hope Trump takes climate change seriously

by Michelle Brunetti, Press of Atlantic City on 12-07-2016



WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — The Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) invites the public to join us for a symposium and policy discussion which never took place during the election — coastal and ocean priorities for the next administration and Congress.
The 12th Annual Future of the Ocean Symposium will be held on Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wilson Hall Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.
The panelists, former New Jersey Gov. and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Dr. Donald Boesch, will offer their views and recommendations on critical actions that the administration and Congress should take to ensure that our coasts and oceans are healthy, productive and support sustainable economic development.
Among their many other accomplishments and qualifications, Whitman and Boesch serve on the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) Leadership Council, a national organization dedicated to marine policy reform. JOCI soon plans to release a nine-point action plan for the Trump administration and the new Congress. UCI Ocean Policy Fellow and Monmouth University President Emeritus Paul G. Gaffney II also serves as a member of the JOCI Leadership Council.
“The oceans are going through unprecedented changes, including sea level rise, shifting currents and weather patterns, ocean acidification, and ecosystem destruction,” Whitman said. “These changes are a mounting threat not only to marine ecosystems, but to coastal communities and economies. We must confront these issues with a bipartisan approach from policymakers in Washington and at all levels of government.”
“Robust federal investments in science and research can spur innovation, address important national and global challenges, create new economic sectors, and ultimately save lives,” Boesch said. “If our ecosystems and livelihoods are to be sustained for the future, we’ll need to pair such financial commitments to research with concerted action on policies based in science.”
“The Future of the Ocean Symposium provides a unique forum for students, faculty and the public to engage nationally recognized experts in discussions on the pressing ocean issues of our time,” said UCI Director Tony MacDonald, who will moderate the panel. “As a coastal university, we are also pleased to honor a group of Ocean Champions whose work has so directly impacted lives here on the Jersey Shore and beyond.”
Immediately following the symposium, the UCI will hold its Champion of the Ocean Awards Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are required for the luncheon. The cost is $150, with proceeds to benefit student research and UCI programs.
Whitman will be honored as a National Champion of the Ocean for her work as a leading voice for the oceans as governor and with the EPA, JOCI and Pew Oceans Commission. Boesch will be recognized as a Regional Champion of the Ocean for his work advancing knowledge about marine environments, including his work as a member of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
In addition, two New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) officials will receive State, Coastal and Ocean Leadership Awards for their roles in restoring New Jersey’s beaches, supporting innovative major Rebuild by Design projects, and improving coastal planning and communities’ resilience to coastal storms after Superstorm Sandy. The honorees are NJDEP Assistant Commission of Engineering and Construction David Rosenblatt and NJDEP Assistant Director of Coastal and Land Use Planning Elizabeth Semple.
For more information on the event or to purchase tickets for the luncheon, click here or contact Danica Simmons at (732) 263-5662 or dsimmons@monmouth.edu.

LONG BRANCH — For Tom Fote, of Toms River, the decline of the lobster industry in New Jersey is proof that ocean warming is having big environmental and economic effects.

“I manage lobsters, and we saw what happened in the last 20 years. We had a huge population of lobster that grew in the mid-Atlantic. Now it’s starting to collapse,” said Fote, who is one of three New Jersey commissioners on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

He told panelists at the 12th annual Future of the Ocean Symposium, focused on priorities for President-elect Donald Trump’s administration and Congress at Monmouth University on Wednesday, that the water off New Jersey has become too warm for lobsters.

Fishermen need help dealing with the effects of climate change on their industry, he said.

Panelists at the symposium included former federal Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and Donald E. Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Cambridge, Maryland.

“If I were to say one thing to the incoming administration and to the president-elect, it’s, ‘Listen to your daughter.’ Ivanka believes in climate change,” Whitman said of Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser. “It has real everyday implications to our lives, and to national safety. It is a national security issue.”

Areas of sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing severe drought, and herdsmen are moving to cities, further destabilizing countries that are already struggling, Whitman said.

“It’s a breeding ground for ISIS and al-Qaeda to recruit,” Whitman said.

Boesch and Whitman are both members of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council, a national organization working on marine policy reform.

JOCI will give the new administration a nine-point action plan for dealing with ocean issues, Boesch said.

“Our climate is mostly about the ocean. It is storing most of the heat and storing most of the CO2,” said Boesch.

He said the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming, have pretty much leveled off. But the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to climb.

“There are those scientists ... who are very concerned that what is happening is a reduction of the ability of the oceans to take up the CO2, a nasty feedback that can make things worse,” said Boesch.

Whitman said New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise, but all coastal states face similar circumstances.

“Fifty percent of our coastline is in danger of susceptibility to high water and loss of wetlands. Forty percent of American people live along the coastline,” she said.

As co-chair on an Arctic task force for the Council on Foreign Relations, Whitman has traveled to the Arctic and seen the difficulties in planning to move 31 small villages of indigenous people away from rising seas.

“These are very isolated areas. They found for one village a place to move them,” said Whitman. “But what about roads to get to them? There are no roads, there is no infrastucture.”

Infrastructure won’t be a problem along the U.S. coasts, but enormous costs will be a major challenge, she said.

“We can’t abandon our coasts. We not going to abandon our coasts, but we need to be smart about how we develop them and how we harden them against what is happening,” she said.

As serious as the loss of a lobster fishery is to New Jersey, where perhaps 30 lobster boats are based, Fote said it will be even worse when it happens in Maine, where there are about 9,000 lobster boats.

He said there already are indications that state’s waters are getting too warm for lobster, and boats will have to travel much farther for a good catch.

“It’s a huge part of Maine’s economy,” he said.

Whitman said government needs to help retrain fishermen to do other jobs or to go after a different catch.

“Livelihoods are going to have to change to a degree,” she said.

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