Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 2:19 am | Fair 55º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: Principles for Responsible Offshore Energy Exploration

Before new offshore energy development gets the nod, fishermen are angling for a change to CAST.

Sportsmen's groups are not opposed to the development of offshore energy resources but say they won't abide repetition of past mistakes.
Sportsmen’s groups are not opposed to the development of offshore energy resources but say they won’t abide repetition of past mistakes. (Capt. David Bacon photo)

I’m bringing you excerpts from an article by Jared Mott of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which discusses anglers’ concerns and wishes with respect to new offshore drilling ...

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Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
A broad coalition of recreational anglers called on lawmakers about to consider offshore energy leasing and development to employ its “CAST Principles,” a set of core tenets designed to promote the conservation of marine fisheries.

The Angling 4 Oceans Coalition, which aims to shape important coastal fisheries laws, advanced the principles as the House Natural Resources Committee gathered for the first in a series of hearings on offshore energy development.

“We’ve seen horrible and avoidable population declines in fish and wildlife populations following the most recent energy development boom in the Intermountain West,” said TRCP president and CEO George Cooper. “Our coalition supports developing offshore energy resources, but it will not tolerate the senseless repetition of past mistakes.”

The “CAST Principles” are:

Conservation

Conservation concerns must top all others. A network of conservation areas — places simply too valuable to drill — must be established before offshore energy leasing and development proceed. Those places crucial to the vitality of fish populations, recreational anglers and coastal economies should be placed off-limits to leasing. Concurrently, the Minerals Management Service, the agency responsible for overseeing offshore development, must adopt and adhere to a new standard operating procedure that strives to balance the concerns of all ocean users.

Allocation

Allocations of the royalties paid to the federal government by industry for offshore energy development must be used in ways that benefit fish and wildlife resources, including expanded marine research and fisheries management initiatives, via state and federal programs.

Science

Science-based, adaptive management strategies that respond continually to emerging information should be required for all offshore energy development projects. These strategies should begin with species inventory, include population monitoring and analysis, and carry through to the mitigation phase. Where gaps in data exist, they must not be used to justify development. Rather, they must serve to highlight areas where additional study is immediately necessary.

Transparency

Transparency must characterize the management of all public trust resources. Not only does this mean that the decisions affecting our shared aquatic species must be made in a manner that allows public oversight, it also means that public comment must be addressed and integrated during the decision-making process.

“We have learned that oil and gas can be developed responsibly, and there is no need to sacrifice the renewable resources of our oceans to do it,” said James T. Martin, conservation director of the Berkley Conservation Institute.

“We need to be precautionary and adaptive in our approach and that is what the CAST principles are all about. We look forward to working with the Interior Department to develop these strategies.”

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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