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President Obama signs an Executive Order establishing our Nationís first National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes

President Signing National Ocean Policy

 

Joe Vietri USACE, Kismet resident, is all excited: Itís National Oceans Month which he considers a big deal!

Americans want clean beaches, abundant seafood and wildlife, a robust economy and jobs and recreational opportunities from our ocean, coasts and the Great Lakes areas.  The National  Ocean Policy will effect everything from fishing to development and the environmentThe National Policy puts us on a path to achieving this

submitted by:

Joseph Vietri
Chief, Planning & Policy;
Director, National Planning Center for
Coastal and Storm Damage
US Army Corps of Engineers
North Atlantic Division

It is the Policy of the United States To:

  • Protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources;
  • Improve the resiliency of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems, communities, and economies;
  • Bolster the conservation and sustainable uses of land in ways that will improve the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems;
  • Use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes, and enhance humanityís capacity to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment;
  • Support sustainable, safe, secure, and productive access to, and uses of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes;
  • Respect and preserve our Nationís maritime heritage, including our social, cultural, recreational, and historical values;
  • Exercise rights and jurisdiction and perform duties in accordance with applicable international law, including respect for and preservation of navigational rights and freedoms, which are essential for the global economy and international peace and security;
  • Increase scientific understanding of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems as part of the global interconnected systems of air, land, ice, and water, including their relationships to humans and their activities;
  • Improve our understanding and awareness of changing environmental conditions, trends, and their causes, and of human activities taking place in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters; and
  • Foster a public understanding of the value of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes to build a foundation for improved stewardship

About the National Ocean Council

The National Ocean Council is a dual Principal- and Deputy- level committee.  Membership of the NOC initially includes the following, with additional officers designated by the Co-Chairs as needed:

  • The Secretaries of: State, Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security
  • The Attorney General
  • The Administrators of: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • The Chairs of: The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Directors of: the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), National Intelligence, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The Assistants to: the President for National Security Affairs, Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, and Energy and Climate Change
  • An employee of the United States designated by the Vice President
  • The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (NOAA Administrator)

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is the key forum for ensuring integration and coordination on priority areas within the NOC.  It will be a high-level, streamlined body of five members from OSTP, CEQ, one Chair each of the Ocean Resource Management Interagency Policy Committee (ORM-IPC) and Ocean Science and Technology Interagency Policy Committee (OST-IPC), and the Director of the NOC Staff.

Ocean Resource Management Interagency Policy Committee

The ORM-IPC will function as the ocean resource management body of the NOC, with an emphasis on ensuring the interagency implementation of the National Policy, national priority objectives, and other priorities defined or approved by the NOC. Chairs of the ORM-IPC will be designated by the NOC and the Committee will consist of Deputy Assistant Secretaries or comparable representatives, or appropriate senior-level representatives with decision-making authority from departments, agencies and offices represented on the NOC.

Ocean Science and Technology Interagency Policy Committee (OST-IPC)

The OST-IPC will function as the ocean science and technology body of the NOC, with an emphasis on ensuring the interagency implementation of the National Policy, national priority objectives, and other priorities for science and technology objectives.  Chairs of the OST-IPC will be appointed through the National Science and Technology Council procedures in consultation with the NOC, and the Committee will consist of Deputy Assistant Secretaries or comparable representatives, or appropriate senior-level representatives with decision-making authority from departments, agencies, and offices represented on the NOC.

Governance Coordinating Committee

On February 23, 2011, the National Ocean Council established the Governance Coordinating Committee (GCC), in consultation with appropriate state, tribal, and local governments and organizations, to serve as a key coordinating body on inter-jurisdictional ocean policy issues.  The GCC consists of 18 members from states, Federally recognized tribes, and local governments. Members include:

  • One state representative each from the Great Lakes Region, Gulf of Mexico Region, Mid-Atlantic Region, Northeast Region, South Atlantic Region, and West Coast Region
  • One state representative each from Alaska, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean 
  • Two at-large representatives from inland States
  • One state legislative representative
  • Three at-large tribal representatives
  • Three local government representatives from coastal states (i.e., two mayors and one county official)

GCC members will serve staggered one to two-year terms.  The current GCC members are:

Brian Baird, California (West Coast Region)
Assistant Secretary for Ocean and Coastal Policy, California Natural Resources Agency

Kathleen Leyden, Maine (Northeast Region)
Director of Maine's Coastal Zone Management Program

David Naftzger, Illinois (Great Lakes Region)
Executive Director, Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council

Lelei Peau, American Samoa (Pacific Islands Region)
Deputy Director, Department of Commerce for the American Samoa Government

Mark Robbins, Alaska (Alaska Region)
Associate Director, Office of the Governor

Paige Rothenberger, U.S. Virgin Islands (Caribbean Region)
Coral Reef Initiative Coordinator, USVI Dept. of Planning & Natural Resources

George Stafford, New York (Mid-Atlantic Region)
Deputy Secretary of State

Bill Walker, Mississippi (Gulf of Mexico Region)
Chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team and Executive Director of the MS Department of Marine Resources

Steve Crawford, Maine (Tribal Representative)
Environmental Director, Passamaquoddy Tribe of Pleasant Point, ME

Jacque Hostler, California (Tribal Representative)
Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Transportation and Land-Use Department, Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria

Micah McCarty, Washington State (Tribal Representative)
Tribal Chairman & Marine Policy & Fisheries Advisor, Makah Tribal Council

Kristin Jacobs, Florida (Local Government Representative)
County Commissioner - District 2, Broward County, Florida

Geraldine Knatz, California (Local Government Representative)
Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles

Joan Murphy, Illinois (Local Government Representative)
Cook County Commissioner, IL, 6th District

Kevin Ranker, Washington State (State Legislative Representative)
Washington State Senator

Additional GCC members will be announced as they are selected.  Click here to read the press release announcing the establishment of the GCC.

 

Share Your Ideas with the National Ocean Council at a Listening Session Near You

Posted by Andy Lipsky on May 26, 2011 at 03:06 PM EDT

Experts from the National Ocean Councilís 27 Federal agencies and offices have been busy drafting strategic action plans to achieve nine national priority objectives that address some of the most pressing challenges facing our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.  Having already received your initial comments before we got started, weíd now like to hear from you againóthis time with your thoughts on the strategic action plan outlines weíve developed. Thatís why weíre hosting a dozen Regional Listening Sessions at this still-early stage of the drafting process.  The strategic action plan outlines will be released in early June for a 30-day public comment period during which you will have the chance to chime in at one of the 12 Regional Listening Sessions or via the Web through a public comment portal.

Here are the dates and locations for the listening sessions:

  • DATE, LOCATION, VENUE
  • June 9, 6:00pm-8:30pm
    Washington, DC, Womenís Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery 
  • June 9, 4:00pm-9:00pm
    Barrow, AK, North Slope Borough Offices            
  • June 10, 4:00pm-9:00pm
    Anchorage, AK, Wilda Marston Theatre, Z. J. Loussac Library
  • June 13, 1:00pm-5:00pm
    Chicago, IL, U.S. EPA Regional Headquarters     
  • June 15, 5:00pm-9:00pm
    Jacksonville, FL, University of North Florida
  • June 16, 1:00pm-4:00pm
    Honolulu, HI, The Neal Blaisdell Center      
  • June 27, 11:30am-3:00pm
    Exeter, NH, Exeter High School                
  • June 27, 5:00pm-8:30pm
    Galveston, TX, Galveston Convention Center                       
  • June 27, 8:30am-5:00pm
    Ocean Shores, WA, Quinault Beach Resort and Casino    
  • June 30, 1:00pm-5:00pm
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA, TBD               
  • June 30, 10:00am-5:00pm
    West Long Branch, NJ, Monmouth University 
  • July 1, Time TBD
    Portland, OR, Portland State University

Identifying the critical actions our national stewardship requires will take cooperation across all levels of government and stakeholder communities. Stay tuned for more information on how to comment on these outlines, and we hope to see you at one of the listening sessions!

Andy Lipsky is an Ocean Policy Advisor at the National Ocean Council

Strategic Action Plans

The National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes prioritizes nine action areas to address some of the most pressing challenges facing these precious resources.  The Nation Ocean Council will prepare strategic action plans for each of these priority objectives.

Thank you to all who provided comments on the development of strategic action plans for National Ocean Policy's nine national priority objectives. The National Ocean Council's interagency writing teams will make use of your input as they draft these plans.

In early June, strategic action plan full-content outlines will be released for public review. These outlines will represent the initial thoughts of the interagency writing teams on actions needed to move forward in addressing the priority objectives. 

Please check back for notices of other opportunities to get involved in the implementation of our Nationís first comprehensive Ocean Policy.  We look forward to your continued participation and feedback.

Click here to read comments on the Strategic Action Plans.

The national priority objectives are:

1. Ecosystem-Based Management:  Adopt ecosystem-based management as a foundational principle for the comprehensive management of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.

2. Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning:  Implement comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based coastal and marine spatial planning and management in the United States.

3. Inform Decisions and Improve Understanding:  Increase knowledge to continually inform and improve management and policy decisions and the capacity to respond to change and challenges. Better educate the public through formal and informal programs about the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.

4. Coordinate and Support:  Better coordinate and support Federal, State, tribal, local, and regional management of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. Improve coordination and integration across the Federal Government and, as appropriate, engage with the international community.

5. Resiliency and Adaptation to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification:  Strengthen resiliency of coastal communities and marine and Great Lakes environments and their abilities to adapt to climate change impacts and ocean acidification.

6. Regional Ecosystem Protection and Restoration:  Establish and implement an integrated ecosystem protection and restoration strategy that is science-based and aligns conservation and restoration goals at the Federal, State, tribal, local, and regional levels.

7. Water Quality and Sustainable Practices on Land:  Enhance water quality in the ocean, along our coasts, and in the Great Lakes by promoting and implementing sustainable practices on land.

8. Changing Conditions in the Arctic:  Address environmental stewardship needs in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent coastal areas in the face of climate-induced and other environmental changes.

9. Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Observations, Mapping, and Infrastructure:  Strengthen and integrate Federal and non-Federal ocean observing systems, sensors, data collection platforms, data management, and mapping capabilities into a national system and integrate that system into international observation efforts

Priority Objectives

Implementation Strategy

The implementation strategy identifies priority objectives that our Nation will pursue to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.

Nine National Priority Objectives
 

  1. Ecosystem-Based Management: Adopt ecosystem-based management as a foundational principle for comprehensive management of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.
  2. Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning: Implement comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem based coastal and marine spatial planning and management in the United States.
  3. Inform Decisions and Improve Understanding: Increase knowledge to continually inform and improve management and policy decisions and the capacity to respond to change and challenges. Better educate the public through formal and informal programs about the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.
  4. Coordinate and Support: Better coordinate and support Federal, State, tribal, local, and regional management of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. Improve coordination and integration across the Federal Government and, as appropriate, engage with the international community.
  5. Resiliency and Adaptation to Climate Change and Ocean Acidification: Strengthen resiliency of coastal communities and marine and Great Lakes environments and their abilities to adapt to climate change impacts and ocean acidification.
  6. Regional Ecosystem Protection and Restoration: Establish and implement an integrated ecosystem protection and restoration strategy that is science-based and aligns conservation and restoration goals at the Federal, state, tribal, local and regional levels.
  7. Water Quality and Sustainable Practices on Land: Enhance water quality in the ocean, along our coasts, and in the Great Lakes by promoting and implementing sustainable practices on land.
  8. Changing Conditions in the Arctic: Address environmental stewardship needs in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent coastal areas in the face of climate-induced and other environmental changes.
  9. Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Observations, Mapping, and Infrastructure: Strengthen and integrate Federal and non-Federal ocean observing systems, sensors, data collection platforms, data management, and mapping capabilities into a national system, and integrate that system into international observation efforts.

Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does the Presidentís Executive Order do?

The Executive Order establishes for the first time a comprehensive, integrated National Policy for the stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.  It sets our Nation on a new path toward comprehensive planning for their preservation and sustainable use.  It also creates a new National Ocean Council to provide sustained, high-level, and coordinated attention to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes issues and to focus on actions to advance the National Policy.

The Executive Order adopts the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (Final Recommedations) and directs Federal agencies to implement them under the guidance of the National Ocean Council.  

Q: Does the National Policy constitute new regulations or restrictions?

The National Policy outlines the use of existing authority to strengthen ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes stewardship.  It aims to improve the coordination of ocean and coastal management efforts at all levels of government, restore the health of these resources, enhance the ocean and coastal economies, and promote sustainable uses and access.

The National Policy does not establish any new regulations or restrict any ocean uses or activities. It does not require new legislation in order to be implemented and does not supersede or alter any agency or departmentís existing authority.

Q: What will the National Policy mean for the American public? 
 
Americans want clean beaches, abundant seafood and wildlife, a robust economy and jobs and recreational opportunities from our ocean, coasts and the Great Lakes areas.  The National Policy puts us on a path to achieving this and will significantly advance our response to the long-term challenges and impacts of climate and environmental changes and non-sustainable use.  The actions will also further enhance the many vital benefits our Nation can derive from the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.

The Final Recommendations do not restrict or regulate any use or activity.  Rather, they lay out a multi-year process and begin a conversation with the American public and stakeholders about how the Nation can advance its environmental and economic interests through the growth of sustainable and productive ocean uses, and the preservation and restoration of these ecosystems.  By providing opportunities for robust stakeholder and public engagement during implementation of the National Policy and the development of coastal and marine spatial planning, the American public will be able to shape the future of their ocean, coasts and Great Lakes.  

Q: How would the new National Ocean Council and National Policy relate to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf or improve the response by the Federal Government to such disasters?

The Ocean Policy Task Force formed in June 2009, at the Presidentís request.  The result is that the United States will have, for the first time, a national policy aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes.

The National Ocean Policy is intended to help the United States think comprehensively about our ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources, and to make informed management decisions.  The Deepwater Horizon spill is a demonstration of how much we rely on healthy and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems in our daily lives.  A comprehensive, integrated, science-based national ocean policy is essential to helping us sustainably manage these resources.

Q: How is the Administration going to fund the National Ocean Council and the implementation of the National Policy?

The Presidentís Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request contains additional funding to advance priority activities identified in these recommendations, including coastal and marine spatial planning and geospatial modernization ($12 million), regional ocean partnership grants ($20 million), and integrated ecosystem assessments ($5 million).

The FY2011 Budget Request also includes investment across many Federal agencies for activities that support these recommendations, including: habitat restoration, water quality improvement, port and coastal security, improvements in marine transportation safety and efficiency, coastal and estuarine land protection, research and development of ocean sensor technology, catch-share based fisheries management, environmental tools to support resilient coastal communities, and ocean acidification research. 

The Administration is confident that making these investments will advance the economic interests of the United States and improve efficiencies across the Federal Government. 

Q: What did the Task Force gain through its public engagement process? Were there common themes?

The public meetings, roundtables, and website showcased a strong desire and enthusiasm among participants for a National Policy that provides clarity and direction for how the Nation will better care for the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes

Diverse interests were represented through the public engagement process.  Several key themes emerged and were incorporated into the Final Recommendations, including:  the importance of science-based decision making; support for improved transparency and public participation; avoiding new layers of bureaucracy and unnecessary costs; and support for ensuring that policies are adequately funded.

Q:  What is coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP)?

As defined in the Final Recommendations:

"CMSP is a comprehensive, adaptive, integrated, and transparent spatial planning process, based on sound science, for analyzing current and anticipated uses of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes areas.  CMSP identifies areas most suitable for various types or classes of activities in order to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses, and preserve critical ecosystem services to meet economic, environmental, security, and social objectives.  In practical terms, CMSP provides a public policy process to better determine how the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes are sustainably used and protected now and for future generations." (page 41)

Q:  What is the Framework for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning?

The framework for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) is a new, integrated and proactive approach to better determine how the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes are sustainably used and protected now and in the future.  It moves us away from the current sector-by-sector, statute by statute approach toward a management that can properly account for cumulative effects, sustain multiple ecosystem services, and explicitly evaluate the tradeoffs associated with proposed alternative uses.

The framework defines national goals and principles for CMSP and offers a roadmap for comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based planning that will address conservation, economic activity, national and homeland security, user conflict, and sustainable use.

Q:  Does the National Policy zone or restrict uses, such as recreational fishing, or curtail access?

The National Policy is not a map drawing exercise and does not contain a zoning plan or establish any restrictions on activities, nor does it restrict access.  Rather, the framework for CMSP describes a process for developing and implementing coastal and marine spatial planning in the United States

CMSP is a multi-year process for the development of coastal and marine spatial plans (CMS Plans) that will include extensive stakeholder and public participation.  The CMSP process will enable improved coordination with the conservation activities of recreational users, who have a long history of actively participating in the stewardship of these resources. 

Management decisions will be made under existing statutory authority to promote cross-sector, compatible uses of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources in a sustainable manner.  This will help ensure healthier oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, to the benefit of all recreational activities and the communities and economies that rely on them.

Q:  Why do we need coastal and marine spatial planning?

Americaís rich and productive coastal regions and waters support tens of millions of jobs and account for trillions of dollars of the national economy.  They also host a growing number of commercial, recreational, scientific, energy, and security activities, and provide a wealth of natural resources and ecological benefits.  Human uses of the ocean are expanding at a rate that challenges our ability to manage significant and often competing demands.

We need a more integrated, comprehensive, ecosystem-based, flexible, and proactive approach to planning and managing uses and activities.  Without this, we risk more user conflicts, increased costs and delays from planning and regulatory inefficiencies, and the potential loss of critical economic, ecosystem, social, and cultural services for present and future generations.

Q:  Who will be in charge of CMSP?

The National Ocean Council will facilitate the regional development and implementation of CMSP.   Regional CMS Plans will be developed outside of Washington D.C., by regional planning bodies consisting of Federal, State, tribal, and other representatives.

Q:  How will the Administration and National Ocean Council implement a transparent and comprehensive public participation process in developing strategies for the National Priority Objectives and for Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans?

Robust public and stakeholder engagement is essential to the success of a CMSP process.  Including a broad range of interests throughout the planning and implementation of CMSP is necessary to strengthen understanding of challenges and opportunities, and will better inform the process and its outcomes.

As the National Ocean Council (NOC) develops and revises strategic action plans for the priority objectives, it will ensure substantial opportunity for public participation.  The NOC will reach out to these interested parties through its Governance Coordinating Committee comprised of state, tribal, and local government representatives, the NOCís stakeholder advisory body, and by other means.  Final plans, revisions, and reports of how well plan performance measures are being met will be made publicly available.  In addition, a major responsibility of each of the regional planning bodies established for coastal and marine spatial planning will be to ensure strong public participation.

Q:  How would CMSP work?

The framework for CMSP lays out a multi-year process for the flexible development and implementation of CMSP, facilitated by the National Ocean Council.  Nine regional planning bodies (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Great Lakes, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, West Coast, Pacific Islands, and Alaska/Arctic) will be established that include Federal, State, and tribal representatives from each region.

Regional planning bodies will work together to develop CMS Plans for their respective regions.  In developing CMSP, the regional planning bodies will need to incorporate certain essential elements, as described in the framework (e.g., identify regional objectives; engage stakeholders and the public; consult scientists and technical and other experts; analyze data, uses, services, and impacts).

Q:  Will CMSP require Congressional authorization or provide new authorities?

CMSP will be developed and implemented under existing authorities.  CMSP will not vest the National Ocean Council or regional planning bodies with new or independent legal authority to supersede existing State, Federal, or tribal authorities. 

Q:  How will the Framework for CMSP affect laws such as the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act?

CMSP will build upon and significantly improve existing Federal, State, tribal, local, and regional decision-making and planning processes.  The intent is to design a more comprehensive way to manage multiple uses of the marine environment in a sustainable manner, minimize conflicts among uses and with the environment, and facilitate compatible uses.  CMSP is intended to provide a stronger framework for application of existing laws and agency authorities, but is not intended to supersede them. 
 
Q:  What happens next? When and how does the National Ocean Council become established?

The National Ocean Council will hold its first meeting in late summer 2010 to begin the immediate work of implementing the National Policy.  After an initial period to organize itself and its component advisory bodies, the National Ocean Councilís interagency policy committees will develop strategic action plans for the priority objectives within six to twelve months of the Councilís establishment. The National Ocean Council will also begin to immediately implement the phased approach, as outlined in the Final Recommendations, to develop and implement Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in the United States.

Q:  How can local citizens participate in the implementation of the National Policy?

There will be numerous opportunities for the public to participate in the implementation of the National Policy, especially in regards to the development of regional coastal and marine spatial plans.  Stakeholder and public participation will be sought through a variety of mechanisms that may include, but are not limited to: workshops, town halls, public hearings, public comment processes, and other appropriate means.