April 29, 2013

Reef Check Spotlight: US Releases Implementation Plan for National Ocean Policy


Earlier this month, the Obama Administration released its final plan for putting the National Ocean Policy into action.

Established in 2010, the National Ocean Policy envisioned “an America whose stewardship ensures that the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes are healthy and resilient, safe and productive, and understood and treasured so as to promote the well being, prosperity, and security of present and future generations.” The policy states that Federal agencies will “ensure the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the health of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources, enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies, preserve our maritime heritage, support sustainable uses and access, provide for adaptive management to enhance our understanding of and capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification, and coordinate with our national security and foreign policy interests.”

In January 2012, a draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan was released and public comments on the plan were solicited, as well as input from stakeholders from all marine sectors. The plan identified key actions toward fulfilling the plan’s vision.

The final implementation plan released on April 16, 2013 focuses on improving coordination to speed Federal permitting decisions; better manage the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources that drive so much of our economy; develop and disseminate sound scientific information that local communities, industries, and decision-makers can use; and collaborate more effectively with State, Tribal, and local partners, marine industries, and other stakeholders. The Plan also ensures the many Federal agencies involved in ocean management work together without creating any new regulations or authorities.

“With increasing demands on our ocean, we must improve how we work together, share information, and plan smartly to grow our economy, keep our ocean healthy, and enjoy the highest benefits from our ocean resources, now and in the future,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and Co-Chair of the National Ocean Council, the interagency council established in 2010 to oversee the Policy’s implementation.

“Science is the foundation upon which sound management of ocean and coastal resources is based,” said John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Co-Chair of the National Ocean Council. “The President’s National Ocean Policy and the new implementation plan will help advance relevant science and its application to decision-making to strengthen the economies of our coastal regions while increasing their resilience and sustaining their resources.”

The oceans and coasts of the United States support tens of millions of jobs and contribute trillions of dollars a year to the national economy through tourism, development, commercial fishing, recreational fishing and boating, energy, shipping, and other activities. Competition for increasingly vulnerable ocean resources is growing, presenting challenges for Federal agencies that follow and enforce more than 100 ocean-related laws. The final Implementation Plan describes specific actions Federal agencies will take to address key ocean challenges, give states and communities greater input in Federal decisions, streamline Federal operations, save taxpayer dollars, and promote economic growth.

To read the Implementation Plan, visit www.whitehouse.gov/oceans.

“Obama Administration Releases Plan to Promote Ocean Economy and Resilience” Press Release
Department of the Interior National Ocean Policy webpage