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July 19-21, 2004 - Washington DC

Bobbi Reed, federal contracts specialist for the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, participated in the three-day "Blue Vision Conference 2004" held in Washington DC July 9-11, 2004. Also attending the event was Dr. Quenton Dokken, the Foundation's executive director.

by Bobbi Reed, Gulf of Mexico Foundation
This summer, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation joined more than 250 scientists, environmentalists, activists, and concerned citizens at the Blue Vision Conference 2004 in Washington DC, discussing ways to protect and restore our oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

The conference emphasized the recommendations of two recently completed Ocean Commission reports: the US Ocean Commission Report and the Pew Ocean Report. Both reports came to many similar conclusions regarding our oceans: that our oceans are at risk and that we must act now to restore them to productivity and health.

A recurring theme at the conference was the need for better governance, as well as an ecosystem-based management approach that encourages stewardship rather than exploitation. A speaker at the conference, Paul Sandifer, a member of the US Oceans Commission, said that the report has generated interest from citizens, with more than 160,000 copies of the full commission report having been downloaded from the Internet. He pointed out that fisheries and living organisms were citizens' most urgent concerns during the public hearings held on the report.

"Seaweed Rebels," a nickname given to conference participants, were urged to support the recommendations of the Ocean Commission reports and to lobby for passage of legislation to enact some of those recommendations. 

Participants were encouraged to provide support for NOAA by working for passage of the Organic Act to ensure that NOAA has a clear, national framework, and to lobby for full funding of NOAA. Other key pieces of legislation that need support include the Cruise Ship Bill (S. 2271 and HR 4101), and the Fishery Management Reform Act.

Dr. Quenton Dokken, Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, visited several congressional offices during the week in Washington to express the Foundation's support for ocean-related legislation, including NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program (CRP) and EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program.

Education and outreach are key factors in improving our oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. It is imperative that the public comes to understand how those bodies of water affect each of our lives and how our lifestyles in turn affect the oceans. Grass roots and advocacy organizations are essential for educating the public and creating a new ocean ethic.

The Blue Vision Conference was convened by David Helvarg, author of “Blue Frontier—Saving America’s Living Seas,” and founder of the Blue Frontier organization. Sponsors included the Pew Charitable Trusts, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Ocean Conservancy, the Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, and Marine Fish Conservation Network.

To continue the momentum of the conference towards building a “blue movement,” participants have been added to the Seaweed Rebel listserve, created to keep lines of communication open and to provide a forum for sharing ideas and supporting each other’s organizations. Blue Vision is considering hosting regional meetings next year, and the Gulf of Mexico Foundation would be in an excellent position to provide assistance and sponsorship for the Gulf of Mexico region.

Gulf of Mexico Foundation
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