Capitol Hill Oceans Week 2008

By Sheril Kirshenbaum

Day 3

Day three of Capitol Hill Oceans Week began with a morning session on climate change.  This panel explored the watershed, titled “From Upstream Adaptation to Ocean Mitigation” and topics included mitigation and adaptation strategies to address different, yet inter-related, climate change impacts on fresh and salt-water ecosystems and the human uses associated with each.  Speakers were Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, Craig Hooks, the Director of Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds at the EPA, Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, Executive Director of Coastal States Stewardship Foundation, Billy Frank, Jr., the Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Dr. Lara Hansen, the Executive Director & Chief Scientist
at EcoAdapt, Lisa Beever, the Director of the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and James Lanard, the Director of Strategic Planning & Communications at Bluewater Wind.

Panel two was titled “Mitigation Options: Working to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change on the Ocean.”  The subject was the myriad of ways that individuals, communities, government, and industries play important roles in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Panelists will discuss actions that can be taken at each level to help reduce the effects of climate change.  Panelists included Representative Sam Farr, Secretary Mike Chrisman
of the California Resources Agency, Mark Spalding, the Executive Director of The Ocean Foundation, Maria Brown, the Superintendent of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, the Executive VP of Conservation Programs at The Ocean Conservancy, David M. Kennedy, the Director at NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, and Melinda Marquis, the Science Program Analyist at
NOAA’s Earth Science Research Lab & CIRES at the University of Colorado.

Following the second panel, a luncheon took place in the Senate Hart Office Building where the topic was Successful Ocean Partnerships.  When federal agencies, academia and industry work together, the the visibility of ocean issues increases on the national agenda.  Ocean champion (and my former boss), Senator Bill Nelson gave the keynote address followed by panelists Dr. Melbourne Briscoe, the President & CEO of OceanGeeks, LLC, Dr. Ellen Prager, the Chief Scientist with Aquarius Reef Base, and Dr. Breck Owens, Senior Scientist of Physical Oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  The session considered how we will achieve a higher level of coordinated effort across the broad oceanographic community through partnerships. Speakers highlighted ten years of meaningful interagency, community-wide collaboration, including the ocean’s role in global climate change.

Finally, the last panel of CHOW 2008 was titled, “Charting the Course: A Conversation with Ocean Policymakers.”  Representative Madeleine Bordallo gave the keynote address and speakers included Chris Mann, the Senior Officer at the Pew Environment Group of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Eric Webster, the Director of Legislative Affairs at NOAA, Dave Jansen with the House Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kris Sarri with the Senate Commerce Committee, and Shimere Williams with the House Science and Techology Committee.   They discussed the ocean priorities in the next administration.

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