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Former Corcoran resident Mark J. Spalding has been appointed by the government of Bermuda to a three-year term on the Sargasso Sea Commission. Spalding is the president of the Ocean Foundation. Candidates to the commission are selected through a consultation process by governments that support the aims of the Hamilton Declaration.


The Sargasso Sea Commission was established pursuant to the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea, signed in March of 2014 by the governments of the Azores, Bermuda, Monaco, the United Kingdom and the United States. The commission aim is to encourage and facilitate voluntary collaboration toward the conservation of the Sargasso Sea. The commission’s charge is to exercise a stewardship role for the Sargasso Sea andkeep its health, productivity and resilience under continual review.


“I am honored to serve on the Sargasso Sea Commission, the first formal international body to promote the need for thoughtful conservation of the resources of this extraordinary region of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Spalding, a Corcoran High School graduate and Boswell Scholar. “I look forward to fulfilling the vision of the Hamilton Declaration, which emerged from the hard work of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, and important champions, such as Dr. Sylvia Earle and the late Richared Rockefeller.”


The Sargasso Sea is the only sea not bounded by a coastline; it is a gyre in the North Atlantic, bounded on the west by the gulf stream, to the north by the north Atlantic current, to the east by the Canary current and to the south by the north Atlantic equatorial current. All the current sweep their floating plant matter into the gyre—as well as whatever debris the currents have picked up in their flow. The Sargasso Sea serves as a home for part or all of the life cycle of a diverse array of ocean animals, from sea turtles to albacore, yellowfin and Bluefin tuna and of both the American eel and European eel, among others.


Sargasso is a genus of golden brown macroalgae (seaweed) and has numerous species throughout the world’s oceans. The Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean is home to two species which have become holopelagic—reproducing vegetatively and never attaching to the seafloor during their life cycle.


Spalding, a former professor and editor of The Journal of Environment and Development, focused on international law and marine policy for nearly a decade, is well-versed in the workings of national, regional, multilateral and international institutions with these topics in their portfolios. He brings specialized knowledge on high seas governance, ecosystem based fisheries management, maritime shipping issues, seabed mining and land-based sources of maritime pollution. His recent work has focused on human marine resource use and its impacts, including economic valuation of natural resources, ocean acidification, marine spatial planning and marine migratory species.


The Ocean Foundation is a unique community foundation with a mission to support, strengthen and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. For more information on the Ocean Foundation, check out their website at http://www.oceanfdn.org. The foundation is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

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