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Tragedy and hope. (From The President).

The Attack on America

Everything paused at CLF on the morning of September 11. Our entire staff sat around the television set, silently, and ever since, as we go about our important work, there are times during each day when our thoughts go to New York City and Washington, D.C. We mourn the lives lost, a great city devastated, a country perhaps forever changed. In the face of such tragedy, facing a future dominated by uncertainty, wondering about CLF's role in it all, we come to a single conclusion: we must follow the mandate you have given us. Protecting our environment will never be more important or more challenging than in the years to come. We intend to stay the course.

CLF's Marine Resources Project

This issue of Conservation Matters is focused on CLF's Marine Resources Project, an undertaking with roots in our first big case -- 1978's successful lawsuit to stop the federal government from oil and gas drilling on Georges Bank. Litigation had never been our specialty, and we were taking on the government and the oil industry. Some of our board members were hesitant about suing, but the suit eventually reached the Supreme Court and not a single barrel of oil has ever been extracted from Georges Bank. Our victory was a critical one for marine resources in New England; two magnificent resources were in jeopardy -- the Gulf of Maine, and Georges Bank itself.

The 1980s saw the Marine Resources Project focus on preventing sewage outflow from urban New England harbors. In 1983, outraged by constantly increasing discharges that made Boston Harbor the nation's dirtiest, CLF sued both the state of Massachusetts and the federal government. This helped bring about a court-ordered schedule for building a new sewage treatment plant, and earlier this year the Boston Harbor Project was completed. The harbor is cleaner than it's been in a century.

Elsewhere in New England in the 80s, CLF began a series of lawsuits aimed at cleaning up various other bodies of water. New Bedford Harbor had a serious sewage pollution problem. We reached an agreement with that old whaling town, requiring it to build a secondary treatment plant, and to implement a waste treatment program for local industries. That project is nearing completion. Portland was forced to upgrade its secondary treatment plant, which is now able to control the stormwater overflows that polluted Casco Bay. Salem replaced its old secondary treatment plant with a new one. Fall River's combined sewer overflows poured millions of gallons of untreated sewage into Mount Hope Bay each rainy day. A federal judge ruled that the city had to stop the discharges. It was supposed to invest $120 million in a massive underground pumping and storage system. Little has been done yet, but CLF is still on the case.

In the late 80s, New England's legendary groundfish stocks began to decline. In 1991, we filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service, for its failure to prevent overfishing. The number of days at sea allowed to fishermen were drastically cut. Three large areas on Georges Bank were closed to fishing. Now we're starting to see measurable increases in numbers of fish. I think CLF can take some of the credit.

The stocks still aren't nearly what they should be, yet pressure is mounting to open the closed areas. And a question arises: when the stocks are what they should be, how will we keep them that way? Many questions and many challenges remain for the Marine Resources Project, but my hopes for the oceans and bays of New England have never been higher.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Foy, Douglas I.
Publication:Conservation Matters
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Words:602
Previous Article:Eleven New Faces.
Next Article:Protecting our ocean heritage. (From The Marine Resources Project).
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