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Protecting Coastal Areas In Cuba And California

Photos circa 1919-1920 in Huntington Beach, California.

There is one practical reason why more people will learn how to swim in the open water in Cuba: Thousands of kilometers of low-lying coastlands where people live in the path of Caribbean hurricanes.

Tarea Vida (Project Life in English) was adopted in 2017 by Cuba’s Council of Ministers and headed by Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment.

The program has several goals:

* construction of new homes is banned in threatened coastal areas
* people are relocated from communities threatened by rising sea levels
* agricultural system moves crop production away from saltwater-contaminated areas
* coastal defenses, including restoration of degraded habitat, is bolstered

The Cuban government aims to spend at least $40 million on Tarea Vida this year. Italy pledged $3.4 million in November 2017 and a $100 million proposal will be submitted to the Global Climate Fund within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Seychelles in the Indian Ocean – where a new FINA Marathon Swim World Series is held in May — offered to collaborate with Cuba. But Tarea Vida is a plan to prepare and protect Cuba for anticipated climate changes over the next 100 years. Marine scientist Ocean Doctor’s David Guggenheim is impressed, “Cuba is an unusual country in that they respect their scientists, and their climate change policy is science driven.”

7 centimeters may not sound like much. But over the last 50 years, this increase of the average length of a man’s thumb has wiped out low-lying beaches and threatens marsh vegetation. But the future is yet to not rosy with a forecasted 85 cm increase by the year 2100.

That increase will lead to 24,000 square kilometers of land being submerged. Imagine a country that will lose several percent of land to the sea. It is enough to get the communities and government authorities involved and motivated to do something.

Tarea Vida wants to restore mangroves, protect coral reefs, undertake coastal engineering of jetties and wave-disrupting structures, and relocate low-lying villages. The first relocations in Cuba took place in October 2017 when 40 families in a fishing village were moved inland.

Meanwhile on the west coast in California, there are several oil rigs that are close to shore.

But the Department of the Interior has expanded drilling leases across 90% of the continental shelf around the United States, including the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and parts of the Arctic Ocean.

“When I was a kid, I remember walking in the sand and getting tar stuck on the bottom of our feet and in between our toes. I understand the need to drill for oil, but opening up the California coast for more oil drilling worries me,” said Steven Munatones.

Popular Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo represents New Jersey’s 2nd District [shown below] which includes the South Jersey shores where many open water swims and surf lifesaving competitions are head.

While the Congressman was an early supporter of candidate Trump and voted in line with President Trump 85.7% of the time, he drew the line in touting the party line when it comes to offshore drilling near New Jersey’s coastline.

In April, he reaffirmed his strong opposition to opening new parts of the Atlantic Ocean, including off the coast of Cape May County for oil and natural gas drilling – in direct contrast to President Trump’s executive order reversing the Obama Administration moratorium on exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.

I have long warned against drilling in the Mid-Atlantic region, which would put at risk some of the nation’s most sensitive coastal and marine resources, including those off New Jersey. Protecting these areas means a great deal to the local residents and coastal communities that rely on the cleanliness of our beaches and our tourism economy – a US$43 billion industry that supports more than 500,000 jobs.

Additionally, our robust commercial and recreational fisheries, some of the largest in the nation, generate over a billion dollars in revenue. I have been proud to the lead bipartisan opposition to efforts by Republican and Democratic Presidents to issue new drilling leases in these waters. The fight continues.”

LoBiondo and his Virginia colleague Don Beyer introduced legislation to halt permits for seismic airgun blasting on the Atlantic seaboard. Companies use seismic blasting in their surveying process, but the practice has significant, adverse effects on marine species.

LoBiondo introduced legislation which would prohibit drilling off the coast of New Jersey and sponsored a bill that would place a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and parts of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The economic impact and community impact of an oil spill along this coast would make the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s impact look like nothing,” says ocean advocate Bruckner Chase. “Image that oil washing into New York Harbor, Baltimore Harbor or coating the shore of every boardwalk town in South Jersey.”

Alex Gray of Oceana explains the proposed plans. “President Trump just used his executive power to fast-track approvals for seismic airgun blasting, a dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the seafloor, and has taken steps to open the Atlantic to drilling. He’s set on undoing the protections for the Atlantic and dolphins that we fought hard for and won under the last administration – solely to benefit the oil industry, at the expense of the rest of us.

Oceana’s grassroots campaign to stop offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting off the East Coast is fighting back. Our efforts are gaining steam – 125 municipalities, 1,200 elected officials, 41,000 business and more have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting.”

But President Trump is backed by many politically active and enthusiastically vocal Americans who staunchly believe as one veteran swimmer succinctly described, “Drilling for oil and mining employs millions of people and moves our economy.”

Copyright © 2008-2018 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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