Anyone Know What the Coast Guard's Broadwater Report Really Means? Also, Conover on New York's Ocean Ecosystem Conservation Act
What I did not see, though, was a knowledgeable explanation of what the Coast Guard report means. Is FERC bound to make Broadwater meet the Coast Guard’s safety requirements? Can Broadwater reasonably meet them? If anyone knows, drops us a line, please.
In the meantime, David O. Conover, dean and director of the Marine Sciences Research Center at Stony Brook University, argues that the way we manage and regulate our coastal waters, including Long Island Sound, has led to a long-term ecological decline (except in places, such as New York Bay, where it hasn’t).
To turn things around, he says, we should aggressively implement a new law, the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act. Here’s how Conover explains it, in Newsday:
The act does two things. First, it creates an Ecosystem Conservation Council consisting of the heads of nine different state agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the SUNY chancellor. Then, it directs the council to produce a strategic plan within two years for coordinating ocean-related activities among the agencies and to implement ecosystem-based management.
Ecosystem-based management is an approach that considers the interactions among all parts of an ecosystem - the microbes, plants, plankton, shellfish, finfish, birds and mammals - including, most important, humans. The goal is to keep oceans healthy and capable of providing the services and food that people need, like a well-tended organic garden where sunlight, nutrients, prey and predators are balanced and diseases are held in check.
This coordinated, big-picture approach differs from the present. Currently, we manage each species or consider each proposed project as if it were isolated from all others. Ecosystem-based management considers all consequences of our combined activities, using as its starting premise the interconnectedness of nature. It recognizes that we cannot control ecosystems, but we can control our own behavior. If we want healthy oceans, we can alter the messy consequences of our various effluents, emissions and extractions of food and minerals from the sea.
Some new laws are silly because they try to do too little; others are ultimately pointless because they try to do too much. Yet, assuming we understand enough to try, managing an entire ecosystem makes sense. That’s what we’ve been attempting, somewhat, on the Sound for the past two decades. Will the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act work. Times will tell but it seems to me as if it bites off a lot. On the other hand, what do we have to lose?