In Support of President Obama’s National Ocean Policy

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

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