Energy & Environment

The Trump Administration Is Advancing Ocean Exploration

4 minute read

America’s oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes are national treasures, providing beauty and recreation, along with valuable resources that enhance our health, security, and economic prosperity. America’s oceans and coastlines contribute greatly to America’s economy, supporting 154,000 ocean-dependent businesses, $373 billion of economic activity annually, 2.3 million jobs, and $162 billion in wages.

Advancing understanding of our oceans and coastlines has been a top priority for President Trump, particularly as it relates to further mapping the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (U.S. EEZ) –an area surrounding the United States that is larger than the areas of all fifty states combined. The U.S. EEZ contains a vast amount of natural resources, such as critical minerals, energy, and marine-derived pharmaceutical compounds, and is home to countless ecosystems on which the health and productivity of the oceans depend.

Only 40 percent of the EEZ has been mapped, and considerably less has been fully explored and studied to identify the natural resources that could benefit our Nation. The undiscovered potential is priceless. Knowledge of our oceans will support advancements in tourism and recreation, maritime commerce, healthy and sustainable fisheries, improved understanding of ocean characteristics and marine life, resilient coastal communities, and other national interests.  Recognizing the importance of this critical resource, President Trump has taken bold action to dramatically increase our understanding of the marine environment to support the conservation, management, and balanced use of our extraordinary ocean resources.

In November of last year, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Federal government to develop a national strategy to map and explore the U.S. EEZ, a strategy to map the coast of Alaska, and recommendations to facilitate permitting for ocean exploration and research. Today, as Co-Chairs of the Ocean Policy Committee, we are proud to release strategies and recommendations requested by the President that will guide the national ocean mapping and exploration enterprise, unleashing a new era of knowledge and innovation and ensuring continued U.S. global leadership in ocean research.

The National Strategy for Ocean Mapping, Exploration, and Characterization provides a roadmap to coordinate Federal action and further our understanding of the U.S. EEZ. This roadmap will advance key goals, including completing mapping the deep water by 2030 and the nearshore waters by 2040 and exploring and characterizing priority areas of the U.S. EEZ. It also will aid in developing and maturing new and emerging science and technologies, and building public and private partnerships to support these activities.

The Alaska Coastal Mapping Strategy, developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Alaska Mapping Executive Committee, and the State of Alaska, advances the modernization of ocean and coastal maps. Because Alaska lacks current mapping data, this work is critical to a state that has a coastline longer than all other states’ coastlines combined. With an economy closely linked to coastal and ocean waters, accurate, up-to-date mapping will support economic growth, resource management, and the safety and security of Alaska’s coastal residents.

Ocean and coastal exploration, mapping, and research activities frequently require multiple environmental reviews, consultations, permits, and other authorizations under Federal laws and regulations. In order to reduce duplication, increase coordination across Federal agencies, save taxpayer dollars, eliminate waste, and protect marine resources, President Trump directed the Ocean Policy Committee to recommend actions that increase the efficiency of the permitting process for ocean exploration activities. The Recommendations for Increasing the Efficiency of Permitting for Ocean Exploration, Mapping, and Research Activities identify opportunities to promote clarity and consistency in the Federal permitting processes, examine approaches to increase efficiency, and evaluate ways in which new and emerging science and technology can streamline the permitting process.

June is National Ocean Month, and under President Trump’s leadership, high priority is placed on advancing our knowledge of America’s unexplored oceans and coastlines. Through increased mapping, exploration, and efficient permitting, the United States is poised to harness cutting-edge science, new technologies, and partnerships that will benefit our economy, enhance national security, and promote conservation and stewardship of our oceans.