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Ocean Conservancy Closing V.I. Office

Oct. 2, 2008 — The national environmental organization Ocean Conservancy is closing its Virgin Islands office sometime in the next month, spokesman Tom McCann said Thursday.
"We've shifted our focus," McCann said.
The Ocean Conservancy will now concentrate on climate change, particularly in the Arctic, McCann said.
"What drove the decision was the emerging threat of climate change," McCann said.
Aquaculture also will be part of the new focus, he added.
Economic factors played a part in closing the V.I. office, the only Ocean Conservancy office located outside the U.S. mainland.
"It's more of a shift toward the mainland, and it's an unfortunate reality that you can't do everything," McCann said.
The Virgin Islands office, based on St. Croix, is the only office the Ocean Conservancy will close.
The organization, previously called the Center for Marine Conservation, opened on St. John in April 2001. Several years ago it moved to St. Croix.
Nick Drayton, an environmentalist with a long resume in similar programs, has been the program manager from the Ocean Conservancy's beginnings in the Virgin Islands. He was not available for comment.
McCann said closing the office on St. Croix and elimination of Ocean Conservancy vice-president Jack Sobel's position were difficult decisions for the organization.
"It's not about the personalities," McCann said.
He was effusive in his praise of the programs Drayton spearheaded, including publication of "The State of the Reefs of the U.S. Virgin Islands," published in 2005 during a multi-day celebration that included a visit by acclaimed oceanographer Sylvia Earle and conference at Coral World.
Additionally, the Ocean Conservancy was a major factor in the development of the East End Marine Park on St. Croix and the sponsor of a Youth Summit at the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station on St. John.
The International Coastal Cleanup, usually referred to locally as Coast Weeks, will continue, McCann said. The Ocean Conservancy is the umbrella organization but the cleanups are organized locally around the world and in the Virgin Islands.
McCann hopes that other environmental organizations that worked hand-in-hand with the Ocean Conservancy's Virgin Islands office will pick up some of the work.
At least one of those partners was "shocked" to learn the office was closing.
"You really have to have personal contact," said Randy Brown, director of Clean Islands International. Clean Islands operates VIERS.
Brown said the Ocean Conservancy's presence in the Virgin Islands was as important as the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an office on St. Thomas.
Bruce Potter, president of the Washington, D.C-based Island Resources Foundation, called closing the St. Croix office a serious blow for the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.
"Nick's done a lot to focus attention on reefs and the loss of reefs," Potter said.
Speaking about Drayton's work with the territory's youths, Potter said he doesn't understand the rationale of eliminating a positive program.
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Oct. 2, 2008 -- The national environmental organization Ocean Conservancy is closing its Virgin Islands office sometime in the next month, spokesman Tom McCann said Thursday.
"We've shifted our focus," McCann said.
The Ocean Conservancy will now concentrate on climate change, particularly in the Arctic, McCann said.
"What drove the decision was the emerging threat of climate change," McCann said.
Aquaculture also will be part of the new focus, he added.
Economic factors played a part in closing the V.I. office, the only Ocean Conservancy office located outside the U.S. mainland.
"It's more of a shift toward the mainland, and it's an unfortunate reality that you can't do everything," McCann said.
The Virgin Islands office, based on St. Croix, is the only office the Ocean Conservancy will close.
The organization, previously called the Center for Marine Conservation, opened on St. John in April 2001. Several years ago it moved to St. Croix.
Nick Drayton, an environmentalist with a long resume in similar programs, has been the program manager from the Ocean Conservancy's beginnings in the Virgin Islands. He was not available for comment.
McCann said closing the office on St. Croix and elimination of Ocean Conservancy vice-president Jack Sobel's position were difficult decisions for the organization.
"It's not about the personalities," McCann said.
He was effusive in his praise of the programs Drayton spearheaded, including publication of "The State of the Reefs of the U.S. Virgin Islands," published in 2005 during a multi-day celebration that included a visit by acclaimed oceanographer Sylvia Earle and conference at Coral World.
Additionally, the Ocean Conservancy was a major factor in the development of the East End Marine Park on St. Croix and the sponsor of a Youth Summit at the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station on St. John.
The International Coastal Cleanup, usually referred to locally as Coast Weeks, will continue, McCann said. The Ocean Conservancy is the umbrella organization but the cleanups are organized locally around the world and in the Virgin Islands.
McCann hopes that other environmental organizations that worked hand-in-hand with the Ocean Conservancy's Virgin Islands office will pick up some of the work.
At least one of those partners was "shocked" to learn the office was closing.
"You really have to have personal contact," said Randy Brown, director of Clean Islands International. Clean Islands operates VIERS.
Brown said the Ocean Conservancy's presence in the Virgin Islands was as important as the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an office on St. Thomas.
Bruce Potter, president of the Washington, D.C-based Island Resources Foundation, called closing the St. Croix office a serious blow for the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.
"Nick's done a lot to focus attention on reefs and the loss of reefs," Potter said.
Speaking about Drayton's work with the territory's youths, Potter said he doesn't understand the rationale of eliminating a positive program.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.