Wednesday, June 15, 2011

National Ocean Council’s “Ocean Policy Listening Sessions”

Attention Clean Ocean Action Wavemakers!

The new National Ocean Policy, declared by President Obama in his Executive Order on the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, created the new National Ocean Council (NOC).  The NOC, and the ocean policy experts from many federal agencies, will be holding a “listening session” in New Jersey to hear from people throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region on how the federal government should be managing the oceans.

This Mid-Atlantic Ocean Listening Session is a great chance to learn about what the National Ocean Policy means for our ocean, what the NOC plans on doing to advance this Policy, and how you can stay involved.   The event will be held at Monmouth University, in Long Branch, NJ, from 10am – 5pm.  More details on an agenda will be available soon.

The Listening Session will focus on 9 Strategic Action Plans developed for each of these areas of ocean policy:

1.       Ecosystem-Based Management – (managing the oceans holistically)
2.       Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning – (integrating all ocean uses to minimize conflicts)
3.       Inform Decisions and Improve Understanding – (improving the state of our ocean sciences)
4.       Coordinate and Support – (improving collaboration between federal, state, local, tribal groups)
6.       Regional Ecosystem Protection and Restoration – (make conservation of habitats a priority)
7.       Water Quality and Sustainable Practices on Land – (takes Ocean Policy onto land)
9.       Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Observations, Mapping, and Infrastructure – (coordinate and expand the many different ocean information gathering sources)

The National Ocean Policy Background

According to the White House’s Oceans Portal (, the National Ocean Policy (NOP) “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.”

Unlike many other federal initiatives, the NOP isn’t a new law or regulation – it is, at the most basic level, a plan for increasing coordination and collaboration between programs, offices, and departments that impact the oceans. 

The NOP is, and always was intended to be, a long-term project.  The initial stages of the process (where we are now) involve simply reaching out to the public, talking to the people, cities, counties, and states of the coastal region, and forming regional teams of experts to map out the who, what, and where of the oceans.

The National Ocean Council

The NOC, made up of many of the President’s lead advisors, agency administrators, and some Cabinet Secretaries and Undersecretaries, has a mission to “to provide sustained, high-level, and coordinated attention to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes issues and to focus on actions to advance the National [Ocean] Policy.”

Importantly for our region, the NOC will “facilitate the regional development and implementation of” plans by empowering a “Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Council” (made up of federal, state, tribal, and a few other representatives from Virginia to New York) to analyze the Mid-Atlantic’s ocean economy, ecology, and future and to prepare marine spatial plans that would, ideally, coordinate all ocean and coastal uses (boating, fishing, energy development, etc) in a way that minimizes conflict between users. 

Clean Ocean Action has submitted comments on the proposed Strategic Action Plans, and on the National Ocean Policy itself, and will be at the Mid-Atlantic Listening Session at Monmouth University on June 30th. 

For our Clean Ocean Action “NOP Listening Session” event page on Facebook, click here

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