Zone oceans to save them?

  • By Justin Moyer The Washington Post
  • Sunday, December 23, 2012 12:39pm
  • OpinionCommentary

Nuclear power plants and Mexican restaurants don’t mix. To keep fission reactors away from pico de gallo, governments zone neighborhoods, preventing utilities from annoying businesses and businesses from annoying homeowners.

According to some researchers, the same kind of zoning that might prevent your state from running subways lines through your back yard could also protect a place without back yards: the ocean.

“If you zone the sea, you can separate incompatible purposes,” says Elliott Norse, chief scientist at the Marine Conservation Institute, a nonprofit he founded in 1996. “You can give everyone a chance to do what they need.”

Unlike a ban on offshore drilling, ocean zoning would allow what Norse calls “extractive activities” but would limit them to specific areas. Australia successfully tried zoning in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in the 1970s, Norse says; President Obama has proposed such a policy, but the House defunded it in May.

How much of the ocean should be declared off-limits to hooks, harpoons and oil wells?

“A really good compromise that would allow us to save nearly all species of marine life would be to save 20 percent of each biogeographic region,” Norse says. The current set-aside? According to Norse, just 1.2 percent, resulting in the loss of fish from the waters of Israel, New England and the Chesapeake Bay – which, he says, is “much more like a soup of algae than a place that used to be lined with oysters.”

And for Ariel and Nemo, time is running out.

“The fire is already spreading in the basement, and no one seems to be running down there with fire extinguishers or hoses,” Norse says. “Right now we are having a low-level conversation about what to do and not acting nearly fast enough.”

More in Opinion

Daydream is over; GOP must work with Democrats on ACA fix

Editorial: The Senate should end its latest ACA repeal effort and continue bipartisan talks.

Editorial cartoons for Monday, Sept. 25

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Sept. 24

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Simoneaux: Job-hunting advice from one who’s done hunting

Past a certain age — say 50 — you’ll need to keep your wits and your humor at the ready.

Saunders: Ask around; you’ll hear praise for Trump on N. Korea

The leader of the nation most vulnerable to Kim’s aggression said he liked Trump’s speech.

Milbank: If he isn’t making us ill, Trump is making some crazy

A new paper discusses the Trump era and what mental health professionals are observing in patients.

Corporate tax reform won’t trickle down to workers

I see Congress is going to tackle tax reform, including cuts to… Continue reading

County Council, Dist. 5: Kelly’s knowledge needed on council

Recently the Herald chose to give a great deal of attention to… Continue reading

Why Snohomish County should shoot for Amazon’s HQ2

Editorial: Not that we have a real shot at it, but because of what else we might attract here.

Most Read