During his final months in office, President Bush has the opportunity to build on his legacy of ocean conservation that will affect generations of Americans. The Bush Administration’s efforts to end overfishing, protect ecologically significant areas of the ocean and minimize fishing on iconic species are historic achievements for marine conservation.
Unfortunately, any attempt to build on this legacy is at risk because some of the fishery management councils, dominated by fishing interests, could undermine the nation’s primary ocean fisheries law if federal regulations are weak. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is in the process of developing guidelines for implementing some of the key conservation measures in our ocean fisheries law. Whether this Administration strengthens or weakens the law will determine whether President Bush can add to his legacy and be remembered as a steward of our oceans.