Long Awaited Presidential Response to U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Report

On December 17th, the Administration responded to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Report, which has been a long, bi-partisan process. The initial response by the president is encouraging, and the public and lawmakers eagerly await strong presidential leadership on oceans.

The Administration recognizes the oceans are in trouble and an action plan is necessary. A highlight of today's response was the President's issuance of an Executive Order that establishes a Cabinet-level Committee on Ocean Policy to better coordinate the federal government's ocean activities, a major recommendation of the Commission's report. Also, an opinion piece in the News-Sentinel today by James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality states that the Administration supports measures that protect coral reefs, supports ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention and will pursue ecosystem-based plans that include market-based mechanisms.

"We are pleased with the Administration's first steps towards protecting the oceans and look forward to working with them," said David Festa, Environmental Defense Ocean Program Director. "The status quo is bad for the oceans, and progress now depends on the energy the Administration puts into implementing change."

As part of their new Oceans Alive campaign, which calls for a "Teddy Roosevelt of the Oceans", Environmental Defense has appealed to President Bush to offer his vision for the oceans.

"The president has an opportunity to do for oceans what Teddy Roosevelt did for land," said Festa. "Establishing a Committee on Ocean Policy and supporting market-based incentives for fishing is a great start."

Environmental Defense has strongly urged President Bush to advocate fundamental ocean reform measures that will:

  • Use protected areas and other tools to protect fragile ocean and coastal habitats;
  • Use market-based incentives and science-based management to transform failing fisheries;
  • Curb runoff that pollutes the oceans and harms wildlife;
  • Maintain the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling;
  • Establish strong environmental standards for aquaculture;
  • Enforce conservation laws;
  • Double federal funding for ocean science, exploration and education over the next 5 years; and
  • Improve coordination of ocean protections programs by creating a Cabinet-level interagency National Oceans Council.

"By the time Americans head to the beaches next summer, we thope to see continued leadership from the Administration," said Festa.

To learn more about Environmental Defense's Oceans Alive campaign, visit www.oceansalive.org. Visitors can:

  • View Environmental Defense's letter to the president calling for a "Teddy Roosevelt of Our Oceans";
  • Send a message to the president urging him to take leadership for oceans;
  • Learn more about why oceans are in trouble;
  • Send Oceans Alive postcards to friends and family to spread the word;
  • Learn more about sustainable seafood that is good for the environment and your health and download the Seafood Selector.

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