National Ocean Council Blog

  • Take an E-Trip to Alaska to Discuss Issues Facing the Arctic

    Tomorrow from 2-3pm EDT you can join the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC) and Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for an interactive “Webinar” to discuss issues concerning the Arctic.  The Webinar will focus on initial efforts to develop a strategic action plan—called for by President Obama in his July 2010 National Ocean Policy—to address changing conditions in the Arctic.

    National Ocean Council staff member Dr. Mary Boatman and Dr. Cheryl Rosa of USARC will offer the preliminary outline being considered by an interagency team that is in the process of putting pen to paper for the Arctic strategic action plan.  Additionally, members of the public can offer their input on how best to address climate-induced and other environmental changes affecting the Arctic.

    Instructions to register for the Webinar and to participate are available here. For those unable to participate, an archive of the slide presentation and a podcast of the Webinar discussion will be available here shortly after its conclusion.

    This will be one of many such opportunities for the public to get involved in the implementation of our Nation’s first comprehensive National Ocean Policy, and your participation is encouraged!

    Andy Lipsky is an Ocean Policy Advisor at the Council for Environmental Quality

  • From Coast to Coast, Working Together for our Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes

    As the National Ocean Council (NOC) continues working toward implementing the first national policy for the stewardship of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes, our successes depend on effective collaboration and engagement with the people and communities that live, work, and depend on our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.  From the tribes of Alaska, to the city halls of North Carolina, to the state offices of Mississippi, members of our Governance Coordinating Committee (GCC) represent the diversity of interests that will help cut across political and geographic boundaries to harmonize planning and stewardship of our waters.  Earlier this month, this group of tribal, state, and local government officials from across the country met for the first time to begin this important work.  In the coming weeks we will highlight in their voices what their work and membership means to the people and the communities they serve.   As you can see from a few members’ initial comments below, the enthusiasm and commitment that this group is bringing promises great things to come.

    Dee Freeman, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

    “The work of the GCC and the National Ocean Council is groundbreaking.  Planning our course together as partners will lead to good and valuable decisions on the future of America’s coastal areas.  I look forward to the work ahead and the imperative relationships we will build together as partners.”

    Micah McCarty, Tribal Chairman & Marine Policy & Fisheries Advisor, Makah Tribal Council

    “The inaugural GCC meeting was an invaluable step towards fulfilling the need for regionally based and focused discussions on harmonizing existing laws and regulations of current uses of our nation's coastal waterways…It was especially encouraging to hear from such a diverse of group government representatives about very real and home-based perspectives on common concerns."

    Kevin Ranker, Washington State Senator

    “While we have much work before us, the diversity of skill sets and depth of experience of my fellow Committee members gives me faith that we are up to the task. I found the first meeting of the GCC productive and informative. I am honored to be part of this Committee and look forward to helping the Administration advance a National Ocean Policy that protects our oceans and the goods and services they provide for our coastal states.”

    Rick Weiss is Director of Communications and Senior Science and Technology Policy Analyst at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Sahar Wali is Director of Communications at the Council on Environmental Quality

  • Open for Comments: National Ocean Policy Strategic Action Plans

    As part of President Obama’s commitment to move toward the first comprehensive national policy for our oceans, the National Ocean Council (NOC) is responsible for developing strategic action plans to achieve nine priority objectives that address some of the most pressing challenges facing the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. 

    Engaging with the public is a key component for us in the development of these strategic actions plans.  That’s why today we are launching a public comment period to get your feedback and input on the development of these plans.  The health and productivity of our waters is critically important to our economy and for American families. This is your opportunity to help ensure we make the most of these precious resources by sharing your comments and ideas during the development of the plans that will implement a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes.  Comments will be accepted through April 29, 2011.

    Read about the nine priority objectives on pages 28-40 of the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.

    As you make your comments it is important to take into account:

    • The strategic action plans are built to address key issues  identified in the Final Recommendations of, which were adopted in the President’s Executive Order 13547;
    • The importance of integrating local, regional, and national efforts; and
    • The opportunities, obstacles, and metrics of progress relevant to each of the priority objectives. 

    The National Ocean Council plans to release the draft strategic action plans in the summer of 2011, at which time the Council will provide an additional opportunity for public comments.

    For more information, read the Federal Register Notice announcing this opportunity for public comment.

    To submit your comments, please visit the public comment website.

    Shere Abbott is Associate Director for Environment at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Mike Boots is Associate Director for Land and Water Ecosystems at the Council on Environmental Quality

  • Deputies Building on Great Momentum for Our Oceans

    Ed. Note: Shere Abbott and Mike Boots are Co-Chairs of the Deputies Committee of the National Ocean Council.  The Deputy Committee is charged with executing the National Ocean Policy objectives and includes 25 senior-level officials from Federal agencies, departments, and White House Offices identified in the Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force.

    This week, the National Ocean Council deputies met to move forward the implementation of the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and Great Lakes.  Building on the energy and enthusiasm from our initial meeting in September, and the Principals meeting in November, the deputies reviewed the final elements of the governance structure and the next steps to produce the action plans.

    The deputies considered nominees for the Governance Coordinating Committee, worked to establish two Interagency Policy Committees, and solidified the connection with the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel.  

    The Final Recommendations identified priority objectives for the National Ocean Policy. The Interagency Policy Committees will develop strategic actions plans to put these policy objectives into practice.  To ensure a comprehensive and transparent process, public involvement will be integral to shaping the direction of these action plans.  We will announce the first public comment period on our website soon, and we will provide several other opportunities to engage with us as these plans develop.

    We are also on track to implement comprehensive, integrated coastal and marine spatial planning and management in the United States.  We are currently planning a national workshop for next Spring, and reviewing guidance on the composition of the Regional Planning Bodies that will lead the regional efforts. 

    The President is committed to ensuring the health and productivity of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources for the benefit of all Americans. The Deputies Committee continues to work to make that goal a reality.

    Shere Abbott is Associate Director for Environment at the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Mike Boots is Associate Director for Land and Water Ecosystems at the Council on Environmental Quality

  • National Ocean Council Principals Hold Inaugural Meeting

    Tuesday marked an historic occasion for our stewardship of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources as 25 Cabinet Secretaries and senior officials from across the Federal Government gathered in the Roosevelt Room of the White House for the inaugural meeting of the National Ocean Council’s (NOC) Principal-level Committee. 

    The Committee is charged with implementing the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and Great Lakes, including coastal and marine spatial planning. Key functions of the Committee include setting national priority objectives, and providing direction for implementing the National Policy based in part on recommendations from the Deputy-level Committee, which had its first meeting earlier this year.

    During the meeting, the Council:

    • Reviewed the role of the NOC and the work ahead;
    • Approved the NOC Charter;
    • Approved operational items for establishing the Governance Coordinating Committee to formally engage state, tribal, and local authorities;
    • Approved the charter for the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) task force for it to continue to coordinate the collection of information to establish the full extent of the continental shelf of the United States in accordance with international law; and
    • Established Interagency Working Groups to address topics including information management, and communications and public and stakeholder engagement.

    The first Principals meeting of the NOC reiterated the Administration’s commitment to providing senior-level engagement in the implementation of the National Policy.  It also was a significant step toward making good on the President’s vision of ensuring the sustainability, resilience, health, security, and productivity of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources for the benefit of all Americans.

  • Ocean Council Moving Full Steam Ahead

    The last two months have been busy for the National Ocean Council (NOC).  Internally, staff has been building a governance structure that will support the Council as it works to ensure the stewardship of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.  At the same time, we have engaged in a variety of stakeholder outreach and planning efforts.  Our goal is to ensure a comprehensive, transparent process as we implement the President’s historic Executive Order.  

    As NOC co-chairs, we are excited about the great energy and enthusiasm that was on display at today’s inaugural Deputy Committee meeting, at which members discussed Deputy-level responsibilities and reviewed key action materials that will be vital to moving the NOC forward.  The Deputy Committee is charged with executing the National Policy objectives and includes 25 senior-level officials from Federal agencies, departments, and White House Offices identified in the Task Force’s final recommendations.  The meeting was productive and suffused with a real commitment to achieve the goals laid out in the Executive Order.

    Among the key organizational and outreach milestones the NOC has reached so far:

    • NOC staff, representative agencies, and offices have met and continue to meet with many of the stakeholders, experts, and interest groups previously engaged by the Ocean Policy Task Force.  This includes convening 16 roundtable briefings to describe the final recommendations and how they differ from those in the Task Force’s interim documents. 
    • Six of the eight dedicated NOC staff members have now reported aboard from their sponsoring Federal agencies.
    • We sent Governance Coordinating Committee (GCC) nomination request letters to state and tribal officials including Governors, state and local government organizations, federally recognized tribes, and national and regional tribal organizations.  This is the first step toward creating an 18-member GCC that will work with the NOC.
    • An interagency workgroup is designing a National Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Workshop. 

    All Americans are stakeholders in our Nation’s ocean and coastal resources. We look forward to implementing the President’s vision to make the most of these precious resources, and we will continue to use this blog as a tool to keep you apprised of our progress.

    Dr. John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Nancy Sutley is Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality