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As we know, our marine world is full of acronyms, so it is helpful sometimes to shed light on particularly relevant ones to Oceana’s conservation work, such as “VMEs”. This stands for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, and describes deep-sea ecosystems that are unique, rare, fragile and are particularly sensitive to the impacts of  fishing activities, such as cold-water hard corals, soft corals, and their relatives; sponge aggregations; mud- and sand-emergent fauna, etc.

Last week the House Natural Resources Committee made a crucial move to keep illegal fish out of the United States market.  The committee voted unanimously to advance Congresswoman Bordallo’s bill, H.R. 774, the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015, which contains vital implementing legislation for the Port State Measures Agreement (PMSA). 

Sometimes years of work come down to one moment. This happened on Monday, when Oceana and the University of Chicago Abrams Environmental Law Clinic filed a petition with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting an investigation into Royal Dutch Shell’s disclosures about the company’s plans to drill for oil in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Shell’s plans for the Arctic Ocean are risky and expensive—potentially costing investors billions of dollars—and they take a gamble with the health of one of the most fragile and important ocean ecosystems in the world.

Last summer, I had a counterintuitive ocean moment. At the invitation of Hansjörg Wyss, I flew to Denver, connected to Idaho Falls, rented a four wheel drive pickup truck, and drove three hours north and east, deep into wide open Montana big sky country. My goal? To discuss with the Wyss foundation how saving the oceans helps protect terrestrial biodiversity.

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