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From the November 1988 Makai newsletter (Vol.10, No. 11)
Hawaii's marine concerns have a new voice in Washington, D.C. Megan Bailiff, the University of Hawaii's 1988 recipient of the National Sea Grant Intern Fellowship, has been staffed in Senator Daniel lnouye's office where she is working to keep ocean-related issues a priority on Capitol Hill.
After receiving a master's degree in oceanography at UH, Bailiff was selected in a national competition for the 1-year fellowship.
“My experience as a Sea Grant Fellow is valuable because science careers often require federal funding, so it's helpful to know how the system works, who to talk to, what information is needed, and how to frame a particular interest in a way legislators understand. I've been learning this legislative process,” Bailiff said.
One of Bailiff's primary interests involves deep ocean mining legislation in the U.S. exclusive economic zone in the Pacific Ocean. The zone is an area of ocean measured from the mean low-water mark of an island's coastal area outward to 200 miles.
While ocean mining as an industry is still 20 to 30 years away, Hawaii has genuine ecological concerns regarding the protection of its waters. Bailiff points out the time factor is one of the major stumbling blocks in directing protective legislation since policymakers usually do not deal with in such broad time frames.
“Present federal regulations don't have much environmental impact and there are those who are not as concerned with protecting the environment as they are with exploiting its resources,” Bailiff stated.
In addition to ecological issues, Bailiff maintains Hawaii is also concerned with the effect ocean mining would have on recreational and commercial uses that are already well established industries in this area.
Bailiff's presence as a representative of Senator lnouye's office has impacted Hawaii's interests in ocean mining legislation which is in the House of Representatives. As a result, the Department of the Interior is now working with Hawaii for the first time to put forth protective legislation in regard to ocean mining.
As the first Sea Grant fellow from the University of Hawaii, Bailiff also offered some general observations concerning the first half of her Washington experience seen in contrast the academic setting. She also made a few recommendations which may guide future interns.
Bailiff admits that the environment is in desperate need of immediate attention. She claims that those creating legislation and making decisions on Capitol Hill are doing so from a sociological and economic standpoint rather than from an ecological one.
“Some understanding of how the environment will be affected by legislation is needed,” Bailiff concluded. With her Washington experience, science background, and someday a law degree, Bailiff feels that she can effectively meet that need.