Jon White – From the President’s Office: 7-8-2016

Ocean Leadership ~

Perhaps the 4th of July sparked a little bipartisanship among Congress because they dove back into work this week, passing the Global Food Security Act with 85% of the House voting in favor. The bill has already passed the Senate by voice vote and now sits on the President’s desk. The Global Food Security Act, which has been three years in the making, would make “Feed the Future” (a global hunger and food security initiative) law. This will improve the lives of rural poor worldwide by increasing investment in more productive agriculture and better nutrition and would reduce corresponding threats to global and national security.  

When most people think of food security, they often only think of agriculture. Thus, words such as “ocean” and “aquaculture” are not found in the recently-passed bill. But food security is not just about agriculture and terrestrial food sources but marine ones as well. Our ocean provides food for the ever-increasing coastal population — fish account for almost 17% of the global population’s intake of protein — in some coastal and island countries it can top 70%. While the bill doesn’t specifically address ocean health as a part of food security, it does require the president to develop and implement a comprehensive global food security strategy with a whole-of-government approach. Components of the strategy must include a multi-sectoral approach to food and nutrition security; integrating resilience into food security programs; developing community and producer resilience to natural disasters; and harnessing science, technology, and innovation. These components all relate to the ocean, and we at COL will raise it as part of the national conversation on food security

While we talk about ocean and food security, we must also consider myriad impacts of ocean health on the ability of our ocean to feed the growing human population. Ocean acidification, warming waters, and sea level rise all threaten global fish stocks and ocean health, as well as coastal agriculture in many areas. We need to emphasize, to both policymakers and the public, the critical role of sound science in ensuring our ocean is healthy and sustainable and can provide for our world’s people. The members of COL are doing groundbreaking research and development in many areas related to this topic, including aquaculture, marine genomics, and ecosystem management. 

Next week, we’re going to try something new with our weekly newsletter – sending it to you on Monday afternoon. If you have any thoughts, questions, or concerns about this, please email us at policy@oceanleadership.org.

-Jon
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership

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