Florida Environmental groups join together to deliver “Blueprint� on Florida’s Oceans by Mitch E. Perry

09/12/06

As the General Election campaign for Governor begins to take shape, a coalition of Florida Environmental groups have come together to deliver what they are calling a ‘blueprint’ on the state’s ocean waters and coastlines – and they say they hope both candidates endorse their recommendations.

Sarah Chasis is director of the Ocean Initiative for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She says this new report builds on the recommendations by 2 recent national reports – the Pew Commission Study, and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Both those reports said our oceans are in serious trouble (roll tape#1 o.q.� in arresting that decline�)

The report, called “Florida’s Coastal and Ocean Future�, is written by former St. Petersburg Times reporter Julie Hauserman, and contains 6 main sections. The last concerns strengthening the governance of oceans in Florida.

David White is the regional Director with the Ocean Conservancy out of St. Petersburg. He says the message to take away from the report is that Florida needs to move towards toward an ecosystem style management of our oceans (roll tape#2 o.q.�for future generations�)

White said calling for different state agencies to work together on ocean policy is nothing new – in fact, it’s something he says his group has been talking about for 2 decades now.

Gary Appelson is with the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, based in Gainsville. He says that risky development along Florida’s coasts has disrupted the Beach-dune system (roll tape#3 o.q.�structure forever�)

Appelson said the problem in Florida is that coastal development is moving sea-ward all over the state, while the beaches continue to move towards land.

Another speaker at the news conference, Amanda Leland , from the group Environmental Defense, said that restoring funding for the Florida Oceans and Coastal resources Council, as well a having an Oceans and Coastal czar, should be a priority for either Charlie Crist or Jim Davis when they take office next January.

Gerry Karnas of the National Wildlife Federation seemed to speak for many of the environmentalists when he said that whether it’s Crist or Davis, the direction of the state’s environment will improve in comparison to the Jeb Bush era (roll tape#4 o.q.�to this myriad of problems�)

But even if a Democrat takes over as Governor, he will still facing a very pro-business, pro-agriculture majority Republican Legislature in Tallahassee. The Clean Water network’s Linda Young says a lot of what is recommended in their blueprint does NOT require new legislation (roll tape5 o.q.�to the environment�)

The report can be accessed by going to the web at nrdc.org

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