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WWF Lauds Ocean Commission Report; Urges Swift Implementation

WASHINGTON -- William K. Reilly, chairman of the board of directors of World Wildlife Fund, issued the following statement today in response to the release of the preliminary report by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy:

"The report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy represents the most thorough and thoughtful official assessment to date of the degraded state of our oceans and the need for urgent action to save marine ecosystems and the fisheries they support from collapse.

"Globally, more than 2 billion people, including millions of Americans, depend directly on the world's oceans for their livelihoods. Yet their futures are in jeopardy because of over-fishing, coral reef destruction, toxic pollution and the many other ways in which we use -- and abuse -- a resource we can no longer afford to take for granted.

"The bipartisan, 16-member commission headed by retired Adm. James Watkins, former Secretary of Energy in the first Bush Administration, has done a remarkable job of defining the major threats to marine resources and ecosystems and of developing recommendations for policymakers at both the Federal and state levels.

"World Wildlife Fund applauds the Commission's call for a scientifically based, ecosystem approach to managing threatened fisheries and the creation of a new ocean policy framework, coordinated by a national council within the White House. Other critically important recommendations include ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty and adopting measures to help protect coral reefs, reduce by-catch and end over-fishing.

"It is now up to the White House and Congress to follow up on the Commission's recommendations. World Wildlife Fund calls on them to do so without delay.

"As a global conservation organization with the largest and most active marine conservation program, World Wildlife Fund will do all it can to support and assist implementation of the Commission's recommendations."