Subject: Government:Weldon calls for White House C (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 11 Jan 1998 21:37:06 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu,  8 Jan 98 23:53:00 GMT 
Subject: Weldon calls for White House C

Weldon calls for White House Conference on the Seas

   WASHINGTON  Jan.  6 (States) -- U.S.  Rep.  Curt Weldon, R-Pa.,
Tuesday called on President Clinton to host a White House conference
on protecting the oceans while asking Congress to drastically increase
funding for ocean exploration.
   "It is a time for alarm," Weldon said at a Capitol Hill news
conference unveiling a 1,600-signature list of scientists calling for
international action to save the oceans.
   Weldon and the scientists, under an umbrella group, Marine
Conservation Biology Institute, said that overfishing and pollution
are major threats to oceans across the globe, including a practical
elimination of cod fisheries of Georges Bank off New England.
   Salmon have disappeared in certain oceans, along with other classes
of fish, which has only added to food shortages in some Third World
nations, they said.
   "These are all indications that something is going wrong in the
sea," said Elliot Norse, president ofthe institute and a former
official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
   Weldon noted that the federal government spends $1 billion a year
on oceanic research, but through nine different agencies and without
any coordination.  A law passed in 1997, written by Weldon and Rep.
Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., changes that by setting up a new office to
coordinate those efforts, but Weldon said more money is needed.
   "It's appalling to me that we spent more money studying the oceans
on Mars than the oceans on earth," he said, calling for the oceanic
budget to match NASA's budget.
   That would mean a $12 billion increase in ocean funding -- since
NASA's 1998 budget was $13.65 billion.  But, a NASA spokeswoman said,
more than $1.4 billion of that goes toward research on earth,
including ocean-based research.  Another $5.3 billion went toward
human space flights like the space shuttle and space station efforts,
while at least $2 billion went to un-manned space efforts.
   Either way, funding for NASA and ocean research combined doesn't
add up to 1 percent of the annual $1.7 trillion budget.  "It's
relatively speaking a fairly small budget," said Beth Schmid, NASA
   The scientists and Weldon called on Congress, and other global
legislatures, to eliminate government subsidies that encourage
overfishing, ban large fishing vessels known as trawlers, and cut
emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
   Weldon admitted that his fellow Republicans in Congress have not
been very receptive to such environmental initiatives, but he also
said the Clinton administration needs to raise the public profile of
the issue.
   "At least a White House conference on ocean concerns should be
called this year," he said.
   By Paul Kane