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Capital Report


April 2016 Issue

Ocean Champions Endorses
Congressional Candidates

Ocean Champions, which works to build political power for the oceans by helping to elect pro-ocean candidates to the U.S. Congress, announced its endorsement for Jimmy Panetta in the 20th district of California.

A Monterey native, Panetta currently serves as a prosecutor for the Monterey County District Attorney’s office and serves on the advisory council for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. His previous work includes assisting with hydrographic research aboard a NOAA ship off the coast of Alaska.

Ocean Champions also endorsed Katie McGinty from Pennsylvania for U.S. Senate. McGinty began her career on Capitol Hill, working with then-Senator Al Gore on science and technology policy and then as his top environmental aide. A chemist by training, she brought innovation and technology to protecting the environment, strengthening the landmark Clean Air Act and shaping early strategies to take on climate change.

In 1993, she followed Vice President Gore to the White House, where she was the first woman to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality. McGinty drove an agenda that delivered historic gains in renewable energy, ecosystem protection and ensured clean air and water. She was active in the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 and in the Clinton Administration’s actions to protect and rebuild fisheries and marine habitats.

BOEM Gets Three Wind
Energy Lease Requests

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has received three unsolicited wind energy lease requests from two potential developers: two lease requests from AW Hawaii Wind, LLC and, most recently, one from Progression Hawaii Offshore Wind, Inc., NOIA reported.

Each developer proposes an offshore floating wind energy facility with a capacity of approximately 400 MW. The energy generated by the projects would be transmitted to Oahu by undersea cables.

BOEM is preparing to publish a Call for Information and Nominations to initiate the competitive planning and leasing process.

Canada, US Aim to Cut
Phosphorus in Lake Erie

Canada and the U.S. have adopted targets to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie.

Algae occur naturally in freshwater systems. They are essential to the aquatic food web and healthy ecosystems. However, too much algae, linked to high amounts of phosphorus, can lead to conditions that can harm human health and the environment.

Through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the U.S. committed to combat the growing threat of toxic and nuisance algae development in Lake Erie and agreed to develop updated binational phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie.

The 2015 harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie was recorded as the largest bloom this century.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds
Polar Bear Habitat Protection

A federal appeals court upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s designation of more than 120 million acres as critical habitat in Arctic Alaska for imperiled polar bears, ECO magazine reported. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a 2013 lower court decision that opposed the habitat designation.

Without this protection, scientists predict more than two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will be gone by 2050.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Association and the state of Alaska had challenged the U.S. Interior Department’s 2010 critical habitat designation of some 187,000 sq. mi. of sea ice, barrier islands and coastal areas in Alaska. The argument was that the protections for polar bear habitat will impede oil drilling in the Arctic.

The Endangered Species Act prohibits federal agencies from authorizing activities that will destroy or harm a listed species’ critical habitat.

Arctic sea ice, a polar bear habitat, hit a new record low this January.

US Coast Guard AIS Regs
Now in Effect

ACR Electronics advises commercial operators and leisure boat owners to be aware of new U.S. Coast Guard AIS regulations introduced in U.S. waters March 1. The new mandate, which increases the number of commercial vessels required to install AIS, is set to improve navigational safety for everyone as the amount of vessel traffic information and data available to AIS users at sea expand.

Installing AIS Class A or Class B transceivers will enhance safety on board. Commercial owners affected by the regulations risk a fine if they don’t comply.

AIS is particularly important for anyone on the water at night or during times of poor visibility or squally weather. AIS detection and identification of other boats and checking of their course and movements help determine the level of danger. Knowing the names of boats is also a great advantage, enabling the possibility of a direct call in an emergency.

Developed to enhance the safety and security of maritime transportation, the new AIS mandate requires a wide range of U.S.-flag and foreign-flag commercial vessels operating along U.S. coasts in ports, rivers, lakes and seas to install and operate a U.S. Coast Guard type-approved AIS transceiver.

Owners or operators affected include those who are existing AIS users or who operate vessels including: commercial self-propelled vessels of 65 ft. or more in length or, for towing vessels, 26 ft. or more and more than 600 hp; passenger vessels certified to carry more than 150 passengers; vessels that move or carry certain hazardous cargo; and vessels that engage in dredging in or near a commercial channel.

Most commercial vessels need AIS Class A devices installed, but certain vessels, including fishing industry vessels, dredges and small passenger vessels that operate outside U.S. Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Areas or at speeds less than 14 kt., can use the considerably less expensive Class B device.


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