Monday, November 17, 2008
GOP senators freeze marine sanctuaries plan President Bush's proposal to create a string of marine sanctuaries in the Gulf of Mexico, known as the "Islands in the Stream," has died at least for now after Republican senators opposed it, a sanctuary official said. The sanctuaries would have restricted fishing and oil drilling in nine coral banks and hard-bottom areas in a large loop around the gulf from Texas to Florida. Ecological research shows that the gulf marine ecosystem relies on a ring of deep-water reefs and banks connected by the clockwise motion of ocean currents in a loop from Belize to the Florida Keys. Billy Causey, southeast regional director for the National Marine Sanctuary Program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the proposal has been put on hold. He said this week that opposition from the senators and fishermen was too intense and that he received what he called "pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Interior" to put the proposal on ice. He declined to provide specifics....Hey Billy, was NOAA tring to time this with the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity going on in Valencia, Spain?