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House Republicans Pass Hostile 'Empty Oceans Act'
By Molly Masterton
The road hasn't been easy—in the 80s and 90s many of our fish stocks were still in bad shape—but through previous reauthorizations of the law in 1996 and 2006, Congress has consistently moved the ball forward on sustainable fisheries management, with broad bipartisan support.
And the health of our nation's fisheries and coastal economies improved as a result. Thanks to strong conservation mandates, and both lawmakers and fishing communities rising to the occasion, the number of overfished fish stocks and stocks subject to overfishing has been cut by more than half. And as of this year, 44 fish stocks have been successfully rebuilt from previously depleted levels.
But H.R. 200, the bill that the U.S. House of Representatives just passed in a contentious vote (222 yays, 193 nays), threatens to unravel those four decades of progress. H.R. 200 would weaken the core tenets of science-based fisheries management, increasing the risk of overfishing and delaying the rebuilding of depleted fisheries. It would also roll back science and accountability in recreational fisheries. And unfortunately, it retreats from the bipartisan common ground that has marked the law's success.
While H.R. 200 pretends to be a simple improvement to the law, it would eviscerate the very conservation requirements that have worked to restore our marine fisheries. This "Empty Oceans Act" would sell out our successful efforts to curb overfishing, harming coastal communities and the ocean wildlife we all love.
We should be tackling remaining challenges—like protecting marine habitat, replenishing stocks that remain at unhealthy levels, improving data collection and increasing our responsiveness to climate change—without compromising on conservation. Innovative approaches, not carveouts and loopholes, are what the thousands of stakeholders who spoke out against H.R. 200 (including fishermen, scientists, chefs and conservationists) are looking for.
Wednesday's highly controversial vote, with hours of debate and more than a dozen Republicans opposing the bill, demonstrated just how badly H.R. 200 misses the mark.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.