National Ocean Council Blog

  • Supporting science-based decision-making in the Arctic Region

    Today, we are pleased to announce a significant step in ocean stewardship for the Arctic Region. Through ocean.data.gov, the National Ocean Council is making available a wealth of data for planning and management in the Arctic, including information on biological, physical, oceanographic, habitat, and human use in the region. By making information more easily and widely accessible to local decision makers and stakeholders, the United States will be best positioned to lead in an ever changing Arctic environment.

    The United States has broad interests in this region, from national security and territorial sovereignty to sustainable management of domestic energy and living resources, environmental protection, cultural heritage, and scientific research, all of which must be addressed in the context of rapidly changing conditions. The Nation, the State of Alaska, Tribal governments, and coastal communities are faced with critical decisions about how best to enhance natural resources and manage sustainable human activities in this region. The data and information made available through ocean.data.gov will help to inform future actions and decisions. 

    Right now and ready for use through ocean.data.gov, you will find information on Arctic fisheries, marine mammals, near-shore impacts, bathymetry, salinity, temperature, and much more. Ocean.data.gov is the National Ocean Council’s portal for data, information, and tools to support people engaged in planning for the future of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. This portal provides easy access to many tools for the implementation of ecosystem-based management including models to evaluate ecosystem services and visual tools to create maps of human use and marine habitat.  We are just getting started and look forward to hearing from you about additional data and tools to include.  

    A cornerstone of the National Ocean Policy is developing and implementing ecosystem-based management to promote more effective and sustainable stewardship of our Nation’s ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. This whole-system approach considers the full range of activities taking place within an ecosystem to understand how they impact each other, and to develop a responsible management plan that balances those interests. This effort to make Arctic data and information available is an initial step in implementing ecosystem-based management in the region. These domestic efforts will also support collaboration on ecosystem-based management with our international partners on the Arctic Council.

    We will continue to build this information resource by adding more data sets and tools in the near future. Please join the community, tell us what you think, and help us support you in your Arctic stewardship efforts.

    Deerin Babb-Brott is Director of the National Ocean Council Office

  • A New Leader in Protecting our Oceans and Coasts

    This week marks my first as Director of the National Ocean Council (NOC) Office, a role in which I'm tremendously honored to serve on behalf of the American people. Since its inception, the NOC has evolved into an engine for advancing stewardship of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes—resources that contribute not just to our Nation's economy, but also to our environmental health and overall public wellbeing. The task before the Council—to advance the sustainable use of our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources under President Obama's National Ocean Policy—could not be more important.

    The NOC has already made significant progress. In January 2012, the National Ocean Council released a strong, scientifically robust draft Implementation Plan to carry out the National Ocean Policy. The draft Plan reflects feedback from hundreds of stakeholders and members of the public. Additional comments being received and incorporated now will help us improve and develop the final Plan.

    I am looking forward to building on this progress by applying 22 years of experience in the resource management field, with a focus on coastal management issues and public involvement that culminated in leading the development of an ocean management plan for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I am also looking forward to working with the members and staff of the NOC and the agencies who are working hard to ensure healthy oceans. The expertise and capability of those directly supporting the NOC is extraordinary. But we can't do it alone. That's why collaborating and communicating with our partners and the public—including industries, environmental groups, states, tribes, communities, academia, and others—will remain a top priority for the Council as we move ahead.

    Again, it's an honor to be aboard.

    Deerin Babb-Brott is Director of the National Ocean Council Office

  • Another Step Toward Ocean Stewardship

    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

  • Praise for the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan

    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.”

    The National Ocean Council invites your input to inform development of the final Implementation Plan.

    Michael Weiss is Acting Director of the National Ocean Council

  • A New Tool for Ocean Planners

    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.

    Click here to read the blog post announcing ocean.data.gov.

    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

  • Opening Our Oceans With Data.Gov

    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.