May 13, 2010

NOAA Wants to Hear What You (and your Students) Have to Say

by Heather Falconer

The politics of environmental protection can be exhausting. As we often see, there is a cost-benefit analysis in every proposed change (look no further than the rationale for BP’s use of less effective dispersant in the oil cleanup). But the general public does get to have a say many times — whether or not they know it.

We often here people say that every time we make a purchase, we’re casting a vote for what we care about. Do you buy produce that has been shipped halfway around the world instead of what is grown locally? Do you eat seafood that is over-fished or not sustainable? Now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is taking this to another level. NOAA is looking to gather public opinion on ways to reduce the effect of commercial fishing on marine mammals worldwide.

So much of the  seafood that American’s consume on a daily basis comes from outside of American waters, where commercial fisherman are not required to adhere to the policies American fisherman do. If your class is interested in policy work, marine protection, or the environment in general, have them read the Federal Register announcement for what NOAA is proposing.  Then, draft a letter or email to NOAA and let them know the consensus.

Members of the public are invited to comment by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on June 29, 2010 via electronic comment at, fax (301-713–2313) or mail (mail to: Director, Office of International Affairs, Attn: MMPA Fish Imports Provisions, NMFS, F/IA, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910).

Image copyright Tom Curtis

Heather Falconer

Written by

Heather Falconer holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Arts and Environmental Science, as well as an MFA in Writing and an MLitt in Literature. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on rhetoric in/and/of science. Heather has worked internationally in academic publishing as both an author and editor, and has taught a wide range of topics – from research writing to marine biology – in the public and private educational sectors.