Sound Ocean Policy Builds the Marine Economy

Editor's Note: This post introduces readers to Michael Keyworth, Chairman of Legislative Affairs for the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association.

Bluefun Tuna

(Photo Credit: NOAA)

We are fortunate that the Obama Administration and the business community in Rhode Island understand the value of our rivers, Bay, and Coast. We know from experience that for a business to be successful and sustainable, it must be clean and green. That is why environmental regulation and policies, from the local to state to federal levels, need to make sense for these businesses. While we recognize the importance of good, strong environmental laws, they have to be practical, feasible, clear, and fair. They must also produce effective and measurable results.

All of us in Rhode Island are connected to the water in some way. Our many marine industries—from boatbuilding, service, and repair, to marinas and public boating facilities—play a vital role in the regional economy, and in supporting the many different ways people use and enjoy the ocean and coastal environment.

Founded in 1964, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) represents all aspects of the marine industry. Our member companies and organizations are dedicated to the growth in recreational boating and the creation of jobs for our industry in an environmentally friendly, safe and responsible way.

It is with these principles in mind that RIMTA rolled up our sleeves and participated in the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), which recently became the first federally-approved plan of its kind in the nation. The Plan represents a strong effort to do coastal marine spatial planning through an open and public process based on good science and direct observations drawn from the participants.

Respecting the balance between the stakeholders' interests is essential to success. Every perspective is valuable and deserves to be heard. We were impressed to see nearly every one of the stakeholders take a constructive attitude aimed at solutions and results. We've learned that when industry groups work closely with the environmental organizations, universities, and other non-governmental organizations, it makes a powerful alliance.

Federal ocean policy can only work if it is sensible and helps build our economy. Rhode Island is unique, but aspects of our experience can help inform the President and the federal agencies as the national ocean policy takes shape. When it comes to the ocean and our public waters, it is critical that we get it right the first time, and we are grateful to the Obama Administration for recognizing its importance.

Michael Keyworth is Chairman of Legislative Affairs for the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association

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