Story posted June 16, 2008
DeWitt John, Bowdoin's Thomas F. Shannon Director of Environmental Studies, testified in support of reauthorization of the U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries Program before the House Committee on Natural Resources in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, June 18, 2008.
John, a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, wrote two reports on the marine sanctuary program and has visited 12 of the nation's 14 designated marine sanctuaries—which encompass more than 150,000 square miles.
"These are special places that need special attention," said DeWitt, noting that the sanctuaries offer an exemplary model for public-private environmental management, in spite of their modest $75 million budget.
"People love sanctuaries and there is an astonishing amount of citizen involvement in working with a government agency in the management of these places," he said. "This is one of the few federal programs that works very closely with local programs and partners. I hope to encourage the congressional committee to direct NOAA to apply the model of marine sanctuary management for a broader array of marine programs."
The marine sanctuary program includes Stellwagen Bank in the Gulf of Maine, the Florida Keys, roughly 30 percent of the coast of California, and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands—the latter being the largest marine-protected area in the world. Management of these sanctuaries includes policies and programs addressing fisheries, reefs, marine education, recreational use, shipwreck conservation, and endangered marine species.
"Oceans are four-dimensional places," observed John. "We don't generally worry about what happens 500 feet above or below us and we don't have to deal with currents and tides. Managing oceans is much more complicated than managing life on the surface of this Earth."
John is a member of the Science Advisory Panel to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, created by the Congress in 2001.