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FYI Number 11: January 24, 2006

AGU Council Adopts Statement on Ocean Research

The Council of the American Geophysical Union, a Member Society of the American Institute of Physics, adopted a statement in response to a report issued by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Entitled "An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century," the report was the impetus for an executive order issued by President Bush that established a Committee on Ocean Policy within the Council on Environmental Quality.

According to this statement, "AGU supports the integrated research, research infrastructure, and education findings of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. AGU urges immediate development of a comprehensive ocean policy with a holistic approach to ocean environmental health and resource sustainability."

The following FYIs provide background:

The report's findings: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/090.html and http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/091.html

Congressional response to the report: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/136.html

President Bush's response: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/137.html

The AGU statement, adopted by its Council at its December 2005 meeting, follows:

"AGU supports the integrated research, research infrastructure, and education findings of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. AGU urges immediate development of a comprehensive ocean policy with a holistic approach to ocean environmental health and resource sustainability.

"In 2004, the United States Government issued the Commission's An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, the government's first comprehensive evaluation of U.S. policies concerning Earth's oceans in 35 years. Since publication of the report, the President has issued an executive order establishing a Committee on Ocean Policy as part of the Council on Environmental Quality, and he has released the U.S. Ocean Action Plan. However, these are only the first of many urgently needed measures.

"The Commission's report calls for an integrative framework of ecosystem-based management for the oceans. Achievement of this objective requires a fundamental understanding of the oceans in the context of an integrated Earth system that encompasses land-ocean-atmosphere. This understanding, which can only be acquired through enhanced basic research and education, is essential for prudent policy and governance changes that can lead to wise stewardship of sustainable oceans.

"The report also identifies numerous policy, scientific research, and education issues in urgent need of attention to redress degradation of the ocean environment and to meet the challenges facing the nation for sustainable management of ocean resources. For example, the report highlights global warming, resource depletion, increasing ocean acidity, coastal erosion, detrimental human inputs of nutrients, and pollution as significant human impacts on the oceans that threaten economic growth and viability around the planet. To address these and other issues, the Commission recommended new funding for observational technologies, including the development of a comprehensive ocean observing system and advanced ocean modeling capabilities, modernization of the entire fleet of research vessels, and other enhancements to the infrastructure essential for oceans research.

"AGU also recognizes that enhanced ocean education must accompany enhanced investment for oceans research and research infrastructure. Thus, AGU supports educational programs that build tomorrow's workforce and increase awareness of the need for healthy oceans, the value of ecosystem-based oceans management and the broader links of ocean health to global prosperity.

"The oceans remain one of the least studied and most poorly known components of the Earth system, yet are vital to the existence and well-being of the Earth and its people. AGU urges the U.S. Government to adopt the Commission's recommendations with respect to ocean research, research infrastructure, and education. These recommendations should be implemented as soon as possible."


The following "Permissions" was noted:

AGU "Members everywhere are encouraged to help inform the policy making process in their home locales with thoughtful presentation of scientific viewpoints. Council adoption of position statements is one way that the Union can assist in this process. Any member may use an AGU policy statement in discussions with local or national policy makers as an official statement of the Union. If you use excerpts from a statement, you should not attribute those as a Union position. Societies anywhere may use an AGU position statement with or without attribution as a basis for developing their own statements."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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