February 6, 2007

Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Gives United States D+ in “Research, Science and Education”

Formed in early 2005, the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) is a collaborative, bipartisan effort of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and Pew Oceans Commission to catalyze ocean policy reform. The Joint Initiative is guided by a ten-member Task Force, five from each Commission, and led by Admiral James D. Watkins (U.S. Navy, Ret.) and the Honorable Leon E. Panetta. Starting in 2005, the JOCI issues a yearly report card assessing the progress of the nation in implementing the recommendations on ocean policy and research made in recent reports to Congress.

One of the areas that the report card assigns a grade to is “Research, Science, and Education”. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and Pew Oceans Commission call for an integrated and coordinated framework of governmental and non-governmental partners contributing to the transition toward ecosystem-based management. In 2005, JOCI assigned the grade of D to “Research, Science, and Education”. The main reason cited for this grade was the lack of sustained and dedicated funds to support research including the intensive long-term monitoring and data collection efforts that are required to move towards ecosystem-based management. In 2006, JOCI assigned the grade of D+ to “Research, Science, and Education” category. The minimal progress in improving the grade was again attributed to the lack of appropriate funding to address research priorities.

Regardless of which party or Administration has been in charge in Washington long-term sustained funding has and continues to be difficult to secure for ocean research. It is clear from the JOCI report cards as well as their comprehensive report to Congress that non-governmental partners will be a crucial part of a successful transition to ecosystem-based management. Reef Check is directly partnering with resource managers like, the California Department of Fish and Game, to provide data to improve resource management and help them transition to a more holistic ecosystem-based management (EBM) practices. The more quality scientifically robust data, like the data collected by Reef Check’s California Program, they have the more rapidly the transition to EBM will progress.

You can get more information about the JOCI at http://www.jointoceancommission.org/