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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

President Obama and Oceans Policy

The Obama Administration is holding and Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting in San Francisco on September 17, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco at Embarcadero Center. This second Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting in San Francisco, California is scheduled for September 17, 2009. The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force is led by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and consists of senior-level officials from Administration agencies, departments, and offices.

The Task Force is charged with developing a recommendation for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes. It will also
recommend a framework for improved stewardship, and effective coastal and marine spatial planning.

Other participants at the San Francisco meetig include: Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Peter Silva, Assistant Administrator for Water, Environmental Protection Agency, Kit Batten, Science Advisor to the Deputy Secretary, Department of Interior, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Herman Shelanski, Director for the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division, Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations

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The Center participated in an Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy on coastal community issues that was sponsored by the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, July 24. CEQ and EPA co-chaired the meeting. Four types of groups were invited to this meeting – environmental justice organizations, health organizations, environmental organizations that have a specific focus on coastal community issues, and academics with expertise in coastal issues and included:

African American Environmentalist Association, American Fisheries Society, American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, American Public Health Association, Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM), Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Clean Ocean Action, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Estuarine Research Center, Gulf Coast Restoration Network, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Santa Monica Bay NEP, Trout Unlimited, U of Puerto Rico, Dept of Geography, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

President Obama has issued a Presidential Memorandum that calls for the development of a national ocean policy and implementing strategies. The memorandum will establish an interagency task force that is to recommend within 90 days:

1) A national ocean, coastal and Great Lakes policy that, among other things, protects and maintains these important ecosystems.

2) A structural framework for coordinated implementation of the policy.

In addition, within 180 days the task force is to recommend a mechanism for effective marine spatial planning, which will help prevent "ocean sprawl" -- as more and more proposals are submitted for offshore energy and other developments in the ocean.

America needs a comprehensive national policy to protect our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes today and for future generations. Our oceans are governed by over 140 laws and 20 different agencies, each with different goals and often conflicting mandates. A national oceans policy can provide the coordinated vision we need to successfully tackle these challenges. Like a Clean Water Act for our water, or a Clean Air Act for our air - a national policy for our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes will establish a national framework for reviving these areas so vital to our environment and economy.

In 2003 and 2004, two national commissions, the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, called for the establishment of a national policy to better protect our nation's valuable ocean, coasts and Great Lakes. President Obama is showing leadership in taking important steps to develop such a policy.

The Center has been a member of the Marine Fish Conservation Network for many years. (NRDC)

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