Monday, October 6, 2008

Life on the Edge Symposium: parting thoughts on marine conservation

A parting thought on the recent Life on the Edge Symposium: On the last day I attended a panel discussion on "Environmental Action Points for the Next Administration." The panel included Dr. Mark Bernstein, Managing Director of the USC Energy Institute, and Dr. Joshua Newell, Research Professor at USC's Center for Sustainable Cities. Much of the discussion focused on sustainability and climate change issues - the "big" issues that get so much press these days.

During the Q&A that followed the panel discussion, I asked the panel to prioritize their perceived environmental issues, and their answer surprised me. Even though their professional focus is on climate and energy, they felt that the most pressing and immediate issue was that of marine conservation and commercial over-fishing. They all felt that declining commercial fish populations and the subsequent drop in nutrition that loss will impose on many developing nations was a critical issue and one that would rear its head long before climate issues reach critical mass. And this coming from a group of climatologists!

It may not be "sexy" subject matter, as the journalists would say, but commercial fishing, declining seafood, and the future of aquaculture needs to be communicated to the general populace to prod our decision-makers into action.

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