Obama administration reveals Bedrock Ocean Policy details — and they’re strong

Hailing from Hawaii and Illinois, President Obama knows oceans and the Great Lakes firsthand. And before his first year is out, he could quietly revamp the way our nation manages and protects these resources, all with the stroke of a pen. Today the Administration brought us significantly closer to making environmental history.

Here are a few details: It proposes establishment of a high-level National Ocean Council co-chaired by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to oversee implementation of the policy. It also lays out a detailed work plan for that Council, including calling for the development of strategic action plans (within 6 to 12 months) to address priority issues such as ocean resilience and adaptation in the face of climate change and ocean acidification; regional ecosystem protection and restoration; water quality improvement, particularly from land-based sources; and changing conditions in the Arctic.

These priorities are right on point, and the plan of action is strong.

If adopted, the recommendations in this report will guide the federal government’s actions across a range of issues. From overfishing and pollution, to warming temperatures and acidification — a national ocean policy and plan of action will strengthen the government’s ability to tackle each and every one of these challenges. And it helps us be smart about the way we use our ocean resources. Right now, our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes are governed by more than 140 laws and 20 different agencies, each with different goals and often conflicting mandates. We cannot continue to let chaos manage the way we rule our seas — this policy will help restore order.

Take ocean acidification for example — an issue where NRDC has been on the frontlines (and actually just released a new documentary called Acid Test, narrated by Sigourney Weaver and shown on Discovery’s Planet Green in August). What does a national ocean policy do to address this challenge? While most people know that the most important step in protecting our seas from the effects of acidification is to cut carbon dioxide pollution — they may not know the second step is to make it as healthy as possible so it can be more resilient to the effects. Just like a healthy person is better able to handle an illness, a healthy ocean is better able to withstand additional stress. This policy is the prescription they need.

Sarah Chasis, Huffington Post, 17 September 2009. Full article.

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