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Neglected Oceans Need Help Fast

The Pew Oceans Commission, made up of 18 scientists, says the U.S. has a "frontier mentality" when it comes to our oceans, which includes ignorance, neglect and short-term planning (sounds like the way the government handles everything else as well). We know from Linda Howe's recent Dreamland report that big fish are being fished to extinction, all over the world, but this is just one of the problems.

Commission chairman Leon Panetta says we "have reached a crossroads" because of overfishing, coastal development, pollution, nutrient runoff, and the ability of alien species to establish themselves off U.S. coasts. More than 175 alien invaders live in San Francisco Bay alone, killing off the native fish there, and almost a million farmed Atlantic salmon have escaped into the wild since 1988. These fish are often genetically-modified to grow quickly, and they're killing off the native fish.

Another major danger has to do with climate change. Warmer oceans bleach and kill coral and rising sea levels damage wetlands.

We've passed "a hodgepodge of narrow laws on a crisis-by-crisis?basis?," according to the commission. "Every eight months, nearly 11 million gallons of oil run off our streets and driveways into our waters?the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill."

We've always counted on our oceans?now we need to learn to take care of them.

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