News from the US: “on the need for a national ocean policy”

03 Nov 2009 – Ocean Conservancy EVP Dennis Kelso to Testify Before Congress on National Ocean Policy and Marine Spatial Planning
Momentum builds for a national plan to manage our ocean: Administration set to act next month; Congress should support this critical effort

Washington, DC— On November 4th, Dennis Kelso, Ocean Conservancy Executive Vice President, will join Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Nancy Sutley in testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the need for a national ocean policy. Mr. Kelso will emphasize the urgency and opportunity for Congress to move quickly to adopt an approach called marine spatial planning for balancing the many existing and emerging pressures on our ocean.

Momentum is building for a national plan to manage our oceans. In June, President Obama created the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to provide counsel on how to protect and use our ocean wisely, with a specific charge to develop a framework for marine spatial planning. That plan is due by December 9th. The Task Force has already created a National Ocean Council, which if it fulfills its mandate with the support of Congress, will make historic progress for the health of the ocean.

The conservation community is united in support of the Task Force’s work. Just this week, Ocean Conservancy, in coordination with seven leading environmental organizations, developed recommendations for improving ocean governance through marine spatial planning. The recommendations have been submitted to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

According to the letter, Ocean Conservancy and others in the conservation community call for a marine spatial planning framework that would “protect, maintain, and restore coastal, marine, and Great Lakes ecosystem health (as is stated in the National Ocean Policy), including protecting important marine ecological areas” and would foster sustainable development to the extent that it is consistent with this goal. The recommendations detail approaches to marine spatial planning, and who should have authority and involvement.

Mr. Kelso issued the following statement about the upcoming hearing and recommendations to the Administration:

“It’s time to change the way we manage our ocean. Our ocean is getting more crowded with each growing demand and we are putting great strains on fragile ocean ecosystems. Marine spatial planning will bring order to the ocean and provide a framework for balancing ocean conservation and other interests. The recommendations made to the White House Council on Environmental Quality and in my testimony will make marine spatial planning effective and efficient – they also call for a participatory process because there are a number of people who rely on the ocean.

“The ocean is our life support system – it provides much of the air we breathe and food we eat, and it regulates our climate. We need a comprehensive planning approach to managing our ocean, so that we can protect it for future generations while supporting our economy. These recommendations are a first step in making the vision of thriving ocean ecosystems and coastal economies a reality,” concluded Mr. Kelso.

Signatories in addition to Ocean Conservancy are Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Ocean Champions, Pew Environment Group, The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund.

Hearing Details:
The Future of Ocean Governance: Building Our National Ocean Policy
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 10:00 AM, SR – 253

President Obama’s memorandum creating the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force can be viewed here: