Obama Administration Releases Plan to Implement National Oceans Policy

The Obama Administration has released its final plan for the
National Oceans Policy, one that the administration says will promote ocean
economy and resilience. White House officials said on April 16 that the plan
focuses on improving coordination to speed federal permitting decisions and
better manage ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources that help drive the
nation’s economy. The plan will ensure that federal agencies involved in ocean
management work together to reduce duplication and red tape and use taxpayer
dollars more efficiently, White House officials said.
President Obama created the National Oceans Policy by
executive order on July 19, 2010. The international oceans advocacy organization
Oceana applauded the plan, saying it builds on earlier reports by the
Interagency Arctic Working Group and US Geological Survey in calling for
integrated science to guide decisions involving the nation’s ocean resources.
It also makes important commitments that will further the identification and
protection of important ecological areas. “For the Arctic in particular, with
drastic reductions of sea ice allowing access to new places, it is imperative
that we have the best scientific information, including local and traditional
knowledge, to make informed decisions for conservation and development,” said
Susan Murray, Oceana’s deputy vice president, Pacific.
“Oceana is further encouraged to see the Obama
Administration commit to implementing ecosystem based management, identifying
important ecological areas, and improving spill response and preparedness,” she
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said the oceans policy plan
incorporates some of his key recommendations. Among changes critical for Alaska
in the new plan, said Begich, is one that makes explicit that participation in
planning is entirely voluntary. “If Alaska or any state wishes to opt out, it
can,” Begich said. “No regional planning body would be formed if a state in the
region doesn’t want it.”