June 21, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Colombia: Politics: Congress: Santa Cruz Sentinel: Sam Farr tries again with oceans management bill

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Sam Farr tries again with oceans management bill

Sam Farr tries again with oceans management bill

Congressman Sam Farr of California served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia in the 1960's.

Sam Farr tries again with oceans management bill

Farr tries again with oceans management bill

SANTA CRUZ ó For U.S. Rep. Sam Farr and a handful of congressional colleagues, trying to get an oceans bill passed is kind of like learning to surf ó if you fall off the board the first time, get up and try again.

Thatís just what Farr and three other congressman are doing in re-introducing a bill that would revamp how the federal government approaches marine policy.

The bill, now called the Ocean Conservation, Education and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act, was unveiled last week, a year after an earlier version failed to pass.

The move comes on the heels of a bill by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, that seeks many of the same provisions.

Generally, the bill seeks to consolidate, revamp and streamline how ocean waters are managed.

The bill is based on recommendations from two major ocean studies, by the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, that painted a dismal picture of overall ocean health.

"Both (the reports) of them came to the same conclusion," Farr said Monday. "Itís time to act. Weíve studied this to death."


Farr said getting the measure passed will be a battle. Congress is considering a separate bill on fisheries management, but ocean health has yet to entice the GOP leadership in the House. For the bill to be a success, supporters will have to speak out much the same way the public did in response to 9/11 legislation.

"The leadership attitude seems to be to do nothing," Farr said. "Weíre trying to build national support."

Among the billís provisions:

# To formally establish the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to oversee federal ocean policy. The agency now exists by executive order under the U.S. Department of Commerce.

# To establish a national policy and standards for management.

# To expand and coordinate ocean science and research.

# To create a regional ocean partnership to coordinate communication between federal, state and local ocean managers, a change from the last bill that called for a "national oceans council."

Another of the major changes is that the billís costs would be paid for out of general revenue.

The last time around it would have been funded by revenue from offshore oil and gas revenues, an approach some environmental groups were not enthused about.

Marine conservation groups hope the bill is successful this time.

"We need stronger ocean protection on the federal level," said Jane De Lay, executive director of Save Our Shores. "I believe the residents of the Central Coast support that. We support the congressmanís efforts."

De Lay pointed to a survey performed for Save Our Shores last fall in which 84 percent of the respondents said they would vote in support of stronger ocean protection.

Contact Brian Seals at bseals@santacruzsentinel.com.

When this story was posted in June 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel

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