Calls it, Positive First Step in Better Ocean Management
Arlington, Virginia – Monday’s announcement of a new U.S.
National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes
(National Policy) should be a turning point in the country’s management of its
coastlines and seas, and represents an important first step for improving global
ocean health. That was the reaction of Dr. Gregory
Stone today, Chief Ocean Scientist for Conservation International (CI).
“Simply put, this is a monumental moment in ocean management by the United
States, and a very positive step in the right direction for ocean health,” said
Dr. Stone. “It could not have come at a more critical time for our oceans, which
have been under siege from devastating, long-term threats that include the
depletion of fisheries, habitat destruction, toxic pollution, and rising
The new national ocean policy, outlined by the White House’s Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ), and authorized by Presidential executive order,
provides a framework for the establishment of a new National Ocean Council (NOC)
led by representatives from 24 federal agencies, and calls for the federal
government to consolidate management of its ocean resources under one, holistic
vision. It also proposes marine spatial planning practices which consider the
variety of ways Americans use the oceans, from tourism and leisure to industry
and fishing, and puts science at the core of decision-making.
Nine unique regional planning areas are designated around U.S. coastlines
said President Obama’s CEQ Chair, Nancy Sutley, who made the announcement in a
call with reporters.
Development of the new National Ocean Policy was launched in June of 2009,
when President Obama sent a memorandum to the heads of Federal agencies
establishing an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force led by the White House CEQ,
and charging that Task Force with proposing policy recommendations.
CI’s Senior Vice President for Science + Knowledge Dr. Andrew Rosenberg,
served as an advisor to the Task Force, and added his strong support to the
creation of the new National Policy.
“With science-based planning and decision-making at the core of the
President’s new ocean policy, it will now be possible to ensure that human
activities are managed in concert rather than conflict, as well as safeguard the
very ecosystems that we depend upon”, said Dr. Rosenberg, who was recently
appointed as a member of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel
(ORRAP), part of the new National Ocean Council structure.
Conservation International has been successfully piloting ocean planning
strategies similar to the proposed U.S. regional planning areas, with its global
program. In the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (ETPS), more than fifty
partners that include fishers, conservationists, businesses and all the nations
of the region, collaborate to ensure sustainable practices for the shared use of
an area which includes the Galapagos Islands.
Other Seascapes promote
good ocean governance in the Southwest Atlantic Abrolhos region off the coast of Brazil, as well as the Papuan
Head region of Indonesia, and Sulu-Sulawesi in the heart of the Coral Triangle between
Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines where the world’s highest concentrations
of marine biodiversity thrive. In all of these regions, the threats to ocean
health are being scientifically assessed, and cooperatively managed with
positive, measurable improvements.
“While we are concerned with protecting the ocean’s biodiversity, we also
recognize the many different people who depend on its wealth of resources for
their food security, transportation needs, climate protection and business
development”, said Dr. Stone. “The key is cooperative, long-term management.”
Just as better planning will go a long way toward improving the health of
America’s coast lines, it is equally valuable to recognize the vital linkages
between all of Earth’s oceans and seas. Threatened species like sea turtles,
tuna, and whales migrate vast distances between nations to feed, reproduce, and
maintain the ocean’s natural balance. Plastics accumulate from all over the
world and are often ingested by fish throughout the food chain. Global fisheries
continue to be nearly depleted, while industrial fishing fleets dump 84 billion
pounds of marine bycatch that is accidentally trapped, wounded or killed in
fishing gear, back into the sea each year. That amount represents more than all
of the United States’ collective, annual meat consumption.
CI’s Vice President for U.S. Government Policy, Peter Jenkins, said:
“Conservation International looks forward to seeing the Obama Administration
follow through on these recommendations, and turn policy into positive
conservation action. But just as coordinated national management is key to
success here in the U.S., the most important next step for the United States is
to look beyond its own shorelines, and engage more cooperatively with other
nations in the shared use of the high seas.”
Conservation International (CI): Building upon a strong
foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers
societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of
humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40
countries on four continents. For more information, visit www.conservation.org