11/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Stopping Ocean Sprawl

The oceans that surround the U.S. create more than 2 million jobs and over $128 billion in gross domestic product annually. And with the continent thoroughly developed, we are being drawn into developing more and more of the oceans, driven by the profits from tourism, recreation, and living resources that the oceans provide. As a result, it's beginning to look a lot like sprawl out there even without the telltale markers -- the housing developments, highways and parking lots -- that make up sprawl on land. Instead, "ocean sprawl" is a combination of offshore oil rigs, shipping lanes, wind farms and ever more ocean uses -- and it puts increased pressure on ocean and coastal resources already under enormous strain as a result of overexploitation, habitat degradation, coastal pollution and climate change.

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