National Ocean Council Blog
- Posted byon February 1, 2012 at 10:30 AM EDT
In another important step toward implementing President Obama’s National Ocean Policy, the National Ocean Council has determined it will formally include Regional Fishery Management Councils in regionally based coastal and marine spatial planning. The participation of the councils will ensure their valuable expertise is part of the collaborative effort to improve the health and stewardship of our ocean.
CMSP brings Federal agencies, States, Tribes and communities together to better manage the marine resources that Americans depend on for food, business, energy, security, recreation and a variety of other essential uses. The National Ocean Council will establish Regional Planning Bodies to carry out CMSP using an ecosystem-based approach that emphasizes better coordination across all levels.
In this collaborative spirit, and recognizing the unique and important role that Regional Fishery Management Councils play in fisheries management, the National Ocean Council will include members from each of the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils on the Regional Planning Bodies. These councils bring valuable expertise and knowledge about the array of marine fishery resources that are used on a region-specific basis to support local economies.
Each Regional Fishery Management Council will be asked to identify one of its Federal, State, Tribal, or local government voting members as its representative to the Regional Planning Body. In addition, each Regional Planning Body will form a standing technical committee that includes the scientific and technical experts from the councils to ensure their input is incorporated into the spatial planning process.
We look forward to working closely with the Regional Fishery Management Councils – as well as our other partners and the public – to ensure healthy oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes for all Americans.
Michael Weiss is Acting Director of the National Ocean Council
- Posted byon January 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM EDT
Today, the National Ocean Council released a draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan for public comment, laying out an action plan for addressing the most critical challenges facing ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. Here's what others have to say about the plan:
Jim Lanard, President, Offshore Wind Development Coalition
“We support the National Ocean Policy and believe that it can help bring clarity to the management of our oceans and advance the growth of the offshore wind industry. A National Ocean Policy will result in the protection of marine ecosystems and will ensure the orderly and economically - and environmentally-sustainable development of ocean resources, in a manner that respects and minimizes conflicts with existing users.”
Bill Ruckelshaus, Co-chair, Joint Ocean Commission Initiative
“The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council applauds release of the National Ocean Policy Implementation Strategy. This is a crucial step toward realizing a policy that will benefit not only the health of our oceans and coasts but our economy, our environment, and our nation’s security. We look forward to continued collaboration with the National Ocean Council in support of timely and effective implementation of the National Ocean Policy.”
Rick Bellavance, Owner and Operator, Priority Fishing Charters, Rhode Island
“Our ocean is critical to Rhode Island’s economy and way of life. We need all government agencies to work with fishermen and everyone else who uses the ocean to create a comprehensive plan that allows us to tackle big problems like climate change and ocean acidification while protecting and sustainably growing our coastal economies. Today’s announcement lays out a plan to do just that.”
Richard Nelson, Lobsterman, Friendship, Maine
“A healthy ocean is the foundation of New England’s coastal economy. We need to get everyone to the table—the government, scientists and people like me who make a living out there—and we need to make a comprehensive plan for the ocean so that new businesses like renewable ocean energy can develop while ensuring that existing industries like fishing can grow and flourish into the future.”
Molly McCammon, Executive Director, Alaska Ocean Observing System
“The National Ocean Policy and the draft implementation plan really highlight the important role our oceans play in the nation’s economy and global environment. I am especially pleased that the plan recognizes the importance of ocean observations, making data publicly available, and especially focusing on the issues facing the Arctic region.”
Tricia K. Jedele, Director, Conservation Law Foundation’s Rhode Island Office
“The implementation plan announced today gives us new approaches and tools for tackling the many challenges facing our ocean. This is a great opportunity for everyone who works or plays on Rhode Island Sound to work together to improve the health of our ocean ecosystems, clean up our beaches, and strengthen the economies of our coastal communities.”
Jack Clarke, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations, Massachusetts Audubon Society
“Mass Audubon supports the Obama administration’s initiative in planning for and managing America’s ocean waters. This is an important and necessary step as we work together to provide for our oceans’ environmental, economic and national security functions. We look forward to partnering with the federal agencies focusing on ocean management planning in the New England region.”
Berl Hartman, the New England Chapter Director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
“E2 welcomes the National Ocean Policy draft implementation plan as a major milestone to protect the health of our valuable ocean ecosystems and bolster our coastal economies. Our oceans and Great Lakes are incredible engines of economic development and jobs. Today’s draft plan moves us towards a coherent, coordinated policy that sets national priorities and provides data for better decisions.”
Rep. Ed Markey, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee
“President Obama's ocean plans provide a framework for coastal communities to address some of the most pressing challenges to ensure healthy oceans, coasts and Great Lakes for present and future generations. Right now our oceans and Great Lakes are as active as they are vast, teeming with competition to fish, ship goods, train our Naval forces, harness wind energy, and conserve vital species and recreation locations. This plan will strengthen regional efforts to promote efficiency and collaboration in sharing these resources.”
Michael Weiss is Acting Director of the National Ocean Council
- Posted byon December 6, 2011 at 1:45 PM EDT
Today the Administration launched ocean.data.gov, a new portal that gives all Americans transparent access to the same data and information that Federal agencies have about our oceans and coasts. The portal collects all of the latest Federal ocean data and planning tools in one place, and makes them available to the public to serve as a one-stop hub for anyone who wants to use it—from fisheries management councils, to businesses, to state and local governments, to regional planners, to you.
Here's what members of the ocean and coastal community have to say about the new tool:
"The new Ocean.Data.gov website brings together a huge amount of previously difficult to access data in one place. It will become an essential source of information for managers of coastal resources and communities, researchers, students, and interested citizens who are seeking to understand the US coastal ocean, one of our nation’s most valuable natural resources."
Andrew A Rosenberg, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Conservation International
"I envision using the site as a resource for updating data for which I don’t have direct access such as distribution of fishing effort and survey catches. This portal will allow me to ensure I have the best available information when helping to develop fishery management plans."
James Armstrong, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council
"Supporting the health of our oceans will require that we breakdown silos and ensure that all stakeholders and agencies are working with open and clear collaboration--as I called for in my bill Oceans 21. This portal is a great step forward in that direction. I want to commend the Obama Administration for taking action to better coordinate data collection and communication, which will ultimately result in increased efficiency and improved conservation of our marine resources."
Congressman Sam Farr, Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus
"This portal may very well be an outstanding tool for states and federal agencies to utilize to make sure information is readily available to the public at a single, easy to access and navigate through site."
Bill Walker, Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team and Executive Director of the MS Department of Marine Resources
"The new National ocean data portal allows diverse American ocean stakeholders a one-stop shop for easy access to the ocean data and information produced by multiple agencies. It’s a great start with its built in features that offer the opportunity to join a community to advise government on how to make it better, and how to ensure that our ocean continues to provide the goods and services that people want and need."
Jay Odell, Mid-Atlantic Marine Program Director, The Nature Conservancy
"The National Ocean Council is finally breaking through some of the barriers that have prevented this kind of seamless data sharing in the past."
Doug Myers, Director of Science, People for Puget Sound
"The National Ocean Data Portal provides for the first time a single access point to coastal and marine data hosted by the various federal agencies. It will be immediately useful to ocean managers and industries, and provides a model for other regional and state information networks."
Nick Napoli, Director of Marine Planning Programs, Seaplan
"This is the best data portal I have seen yet. This portal provides valuable one-stop shopping for ocean data and a useful hub to build relationships with other members of the community."
Justin Manley, Senior Director, Business Development, Teledyne Benthos
Jay Jensen is Associate Director for Land & Water Ecosystems at the White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Posted byon December 6, 2011 at 11:24 AM EDT
Today, we are pleased to announce the release of ocean.data.gov, the newest community on Data.gov. This effort is the result of two important initiatives of the Obama Administration: the development and implementation of the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes and the creation of Data.gov to make Federal data more accessible to the American people.
Since President Obama signed the Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy, the Administration has been working steadily to implement this policy. One cornerstone of the policy is the Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, a science-based, regional planning process conducted jointly with states and tribes that guarantees the public and stakeholders a voice in decisions affecting the ocean. Making the science that is available to the Federal Government accessible to all ocean users is a key to the success of this initiative. That’s why the National Ocean Council has teamed with the Data.gov initiative to create an open and accessible website that houses and references a wealth of information and tools available to support ocean planning efforts.
- Posted byon October 4, 2011 at 2:05 PM EDT
Editor's Note: This blog introduces readers to three members of the National Ocean Council's Governance Coordinating Committee: Kristin Jacobs, Broward County Commissioner; Dee Freeman, Secretary, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker.
As a Florida resident and Commissioner in Broward County, I am acutely aware of the economic benefits of our diverse coastal and marine resources. Tourism, recreational and commercial fishing, diving, port-related activities, are all of vital importance to the economics of our region. The numbers are staggering. In southeast Florida, reef-related activities alone generate $3.3 billion in annual recreational expenditure, $4.4 billion in local production, and $2 billion in resident income while supporting 70,000 jobs. Statewide, oceans and coasts generate nearly $562 billion in cash flow and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Port and cruise activity generate additional benefits with five major cruise ports in Florida. Located in Broward County, Port Everglades generates approximately $18 billion worth of business activity and approximately 200,000 jobs statewide. As our reliance on marine and coastal resources continues to grow, it is essential that we develop a comprehensive plan that allows for continued uses, provides for emergent needs, and protects the integrity of our rich coastal and marine resources. We simply cannot afford any other approach.
This is why I celebrate President Obama’s National Ocean Policy, his establishment of coastal marine spatial planning as a priority, and his emphasis on a process that is inclusive and holistic. This effort has the potential to substantially advance regional and state initiatives that have already identified coastal and marine spatial planning as a priority, but which stand to benefit from federal leadership and example. In the state of Florida, for example, the value of this approach has been recognized by the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council, charged with coordinating the state’s research for more effective coastal management. The Council, representing broad stakeholder interests, recommended ocean management using marine spatial planning as a framework for decision making recognizing that this approach serves to protect and expand the state’s ocean and coastal economy. We should seek these same benefits at the federal level and work to ensure compatibility of management activities across broader spatial scales, while enhancing the benefits of management activities implemented regionally. The environmental and economic rewards for our nation will be realized for generations to come.
Kristin Jacobs is Broward County Commissioner and a member of the National Ocean Council’s Governance Coordinating Committee
Stewardship of North Carolina's natural resources, protecting its environment, and growing its economy have been corner stones of progressive state policy for generations in the Tar Heel state. In 1974 the Coastal Area Management Act was enacted, beginning one of our most important journeys in planning and acting on NC's future - an effort that continues to this day. Similarly, President Obama's executive order creating the National Ocean Council is a welcome effort to bring a national focus on ocean policy. I am extremely pleased the president's effort involves state, local and tribal involvement from the start.
Understanding and nurturing our unique coastal ecosystems, fostering tourism, developing our ports, and addressing disaster resiliency from hurricanes are at the heart of such planning. NC is now using its coastal management policies and tools, under the leadership of Gov. Beverly Perdue, to embrace new initiatives surrounding wind, current, wave, tidal and other renewal energy policies that offer great promise for our economic and environmental future.
In North Carolina we assist local government in our coastal counties with land use planning to preserve NC's unique coastline and guard our nation's security by protecting the military bases in our state from encroachment due to development. Clearly, coastal marine spacial planning for our ocean waters will be needed to continue protecting our ecosystems, preserving areas for wind energy projects, protecting training areas for the military, managing our fisheries, and meeting our obligation to protect endangered species.
As a North Carolinian, I am pleased to be a part of the president's NOC initiative representing Gov. Beverly Perdue and her mission to protect the environment while growing our economy and creating jobs. I invite the Congress to support these efforts that pave the way forward for our nation to protect, nurture and grow our coastal resources.
Dee Freeman is Secretary of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources and a member of the National Ocean Council's Governance Coordinating Committee
The National Ocean Policy appropriately implements the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy through mechanisms that will strengthen – not weaken – the role of states, tribes, coastal communities, and ocean resource users in developing ocean management policies. Because existing uses from fishing to shipping are so important to our state – and because new uses such as wind, wave and tidal energy production must also be accommodated with these existing uses – it is more important than ever that coastal states and ocean resource stakeholders have a place at the table to help develop the policies and plans that will guide federal agencies in the management of the nation's ocean resources. The National Ocean Policy sets out a logical pathway for such work, and appropriately contemplates comprehensive marine spatial planning as a key element in this pathway using a bottom-up approach that allows states to lead their destiny.
Kevin Ranker is a Washington State Senator and a member of the National Ocean Council's Governance Coordinating Committee
- Posted byon October 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM EDT
Last year, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy that improves stewardship of ocean resources and prioritizes work to address the most pressing challenges facing the oceans. As demands on our oceans continue to grow, the National Ocean Policy brings common-sense collaboration to the management of our marine resources and economies. It will help protect our ocean resources to allow future economic growth and ensure Americans continue to benefit from vital uses of the ocean for commerce, recreation, national security and other activities essential to our economy and quality of life.
The current lack of coordination both within the Federal Government and among Federal, state, and local bodies is inefficient, ineffective, and results in conflict and delays that are bad for business, and bad for our country. The National Ocean Policy fixes this with a regionally based planning process that brings everyone to the table and ensures stakeholders and the public have a voice in decisions that impact our oceans. It is a smart, practical policy that has been called for from groups as varied as fishing, renewable energy, conservation and national and homeland security interests.
Now, some in Congress are seeking to maintain the inefficient and conflict-ridden status quo by spreading inaccurate and misleading information about the National Ocean Policy. Here is the truth about the National Ocean Policy and what it will do for Americans.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Needs Congressional Authorization.
FACTS: The National Ocean Policy does not alter any government authorities and does not require new legislation to be implemented. It uses existing authority to help Federal agencies foster communication and improve coordination on the nearly 100 different laws, policies and regulations affecting the oceans.
MYTH: The Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) Initiative Imposes 'Ocean Zoning.'
FACTS: The National Ocean Policy in no way restricts any ocean, coastal, or Great Lakes activity, nor does it impose ocean zoning through CMSP or any other component. CMSP is a tool that provides transparent information about ocean use, guarantees the public and stakeholders a voice in decisions affecting the oceans, and creates an inclusive, bottom-up planning approach that gives states and regions the ability to make informed decisions about how best to use the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. Only the Federal agencies are required to follow the regionally developed CMSPs. Tribal, state and local governments will benefit by having a regional CMSP blueprint to follow, and their participation in CMSP is voluntary.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Threatens American Jobs.
FACTS: America's ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes regions support tens of millions of jobs and contribute trillions of dollars a year to our national economy. Nothing threatens these jobs and economies more than delays that result from poor coordination, ineffective planning, and increasing conflicts among growing numbers of ocean users. The National Ocean Policy will help protect these jobs by improving the health and sustainability of the ocean and through a clearer, more stable and predictable decision-making path. It will ensure sustainable economic growth through common-sense, collaborative planning that creates predictability and fosters an improved climate for investment.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Creates More Bureaucracy.
FACTS: The truth is just the opposite. Currently, all parties are left to independently navigate and interpret approximately 100 laws, regulations, and policies affecting the ocean, a system that is inefficient at best. The National Ocean Policy improves coordination at all levels of government, provides for more informed decision-making, and establishes proactive and cooperative planning among Federal, state, tribal, and local authorities for the first time. The result will be less waste and conflict, more efficiency, and savings for American taxpayers.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Increases Likelihood for Litigation.
FACTS: The National Ocean Policy will reduce the likelihood of litigation and resulting delays that threaten jobs and hamper economic growth. Our current regulatory and permitting structures are sector by sector and typically poorly coordinated. The result has been uncertainty for industry, unseen "show stoppers" in the permitting process that discourage up-front investments, user conflict and confusion, and costly litigation. The proactive and collaborative approach of coastal and marine spatial planning will reduce conflict, provide transparency and predictability for economic investments, and result in cost savings and faster project implementation for businesses.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Will Impose New Costs on Taxpayers.
FACTS: The National Ocean Policy will in fact save taxpayers money by reducing Federal waste, inefficiency and delay. Currently, Federal departments and agencies independently implement a maze of about 100 laws, policies, and regulations related to the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. This has resulted in conflicting priorities, duplication, and ad hoc decision-making that frequently ends in litigation. The National Ocean Policy tackles this hidden and costly maze, and brings everyone to the table to better coordinate and integrate their work. It also helps us prioritize efforts and resources to address the most critical issues facing our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. Hindering an agency's ability to implement the National Ocean Policy will maintain the status quo of ad hoc decision-making, increased conflict, and higher costs.
MYTH: The Regional Planning Bodies will have no representation by the people, communities, and businesses that will actually be impacted by the regulations.
FACTS: Contrary to this assertion, a cornerstone of collaborative, regionally based CMSP is stakeholder and public participation, and science and information based decision-making. Regional planning bodies include state and tribal representatives that provide essential input from American communities. The National Ocean Policy also requires the regional planning bodies to regularly engage the public and stakeholders at every stage of their planning and decision making processes. Claims that the policy cuts out the public are misinformed as governance to date has been and will continue to be inclusive.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Will Have Far-Reaching Inland Impacts.
FACTS: The National Ocean Policy's CMSP does not mandate inclusion of inland activities, nor does it change any laws or regulatory authorities. Because water flows downstream, pollution that occurs hundreds of miles away can result in frequent beach closures, fish kills, and areas of pollution. Regional planning bodies, which include state and tribal representatives, may choose to evaluate inland impacts on ocean resources. The National Ocean Policy does not prohibit this, but any attempt to link the policy with inland regulations is purely speculative and misleading.
MYTH: The National Ocean Policy Will Create Regulatory Uncertainty.
FACTS: The National Ocean Policy does not impose any new regulations or alter any existing Federal authorities. In fact, by prioritizing efforts and resources to address critical issues, bringing all levels of government together, and improving coordination among Federal agencies, it provides more predictability and fosters a more stable climate for investment. As with any new initiative, there is the potential for uncertainty until it becomes familiar. The National Ocean Policy proactively addresses this potential through open, regular and transparent engagement with stakeholders and the public to dispel misinformation and answer any questions.
Taryn Tuss is Deputy Communications Director at the Council on Environmental Quality
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