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    U.S. oceans report says coastal areas in peril

    By Maggie Fox

    USA: April 21, 2004

    WASHINGTON - Pollution, overfishing and poor management have put North America's oceans in serious peril, but it is not too late to save them, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy said yesterday.

    It recommends setting up a special office at the White House to oversee a new, coordinated policy, doubling investment in scientific research and strengthening the ability of the government to police polluters and fisheries.

    "Our oceans and coasts are in trouble, and we as a nation have an historic opportunity to make a positive and lasting change in the way we manage them before it is too late," retired Navy Adm. James Watkins, who chaired the commission, told a news conference.

    "Too many years of inattention and lack of investment are threatening this national treasure," he added.

    "If the recommendations contained in our report are adopted, we will create sustainable oceans and coasts for many, many years."