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Obama Jumpstarts Action on Ocean

President Obama put protection of the ocean high on the nation’s priority list last week when he launched a new task force on ocean policy. Picking up where the Bush adminstration failed to act, he gave a short timeline for the multiple agencies charged with overseeing ocean health to get it together. Teri Shore photoRight now fishery managers who favor more fishing fleets are charged with protecting endangered sea turtles and marine sanctuary managers charged with protecting America’s ocean have little say over fishing. Marine biologists calling for marine protected areas are thwarted by industrial fishing groups that seek to fish out every last tuna and swordfish they can find in a deadly derby that is emptying our seas. Something is seriously wrong here.(Photo: Teri Shore)

Sea Turtle Restoration Project with the participation of our members and our ocean allies will raise our voices loudly and clearly during the public process over the next few months to make sure that sea turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine wildlife are put first — before the big bucks of commercial fisheries.

To start with, it’s long overdue for a marine reserve along the Texas coast for Kemp’s ridleys; Pacific leatherbacks need a permanent break from the gauntlet of long-line fishing hooks and deadly gillnets crossing their migration paths; and Pacific loggerheads will not survive any further foot-dragging by fishery managers to provide full protection as an endangered species.

Thanks President Obama for invigorating national ocean protection and calling for the best people in your agencies to lead the way and listen to the American people – most of whom love the ocean more than they might desire a swordfish or tuna plate. We look forward to engaging!

Here is Obama’s news release:

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 12, 2009
June 12, 2009
The oceans, our coasts, and the Great Lakes provide jobs,
food, energy resources, ecological services, recreation,
and tourism opportunities, and play critical roles in our
Nation’s transportation, economy, and trade, as well as the
global mobility of our Armed Forces and the maintenance of
international peace and security. We have a stewardship
responsibility to maintain healthy, resilient, and sustainable
oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes resources for the benefit of
this and future generations.
Yet, the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are subject to
substantial pressures and face significant environmental
challenges. Challenges include water pollution and degraded
coastal water quality caused by industrial and commercial
activities both onshore and offshore, habitat loss, fishing
impacts, invasive species, disease, rising sea levels, and
ocean acidification. Oceans both influence and are affected
by climate change. They not only affect climate processes but
they are also under stress from the impacts of climate change.
Renewable energy, shipping, and aquaculture are also expected to
place growing demands on ocean and Great Lakes resources. These
resources therefore require protection through the numerous
Federal, State, and local authorities with responsibility and
jurisdiction over the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.
To succeed in protecting the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, the
United States needs to act within a unifying framework under a
clear national policy, including a comprehensive, ecosystem-based
framework for the longterm conservation and use of our resources.
In order to better meet our Nation’s stewardship responsibilities
for the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, there is established an
Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (Task Force), to be led by
the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. The Task
Force shall be composed of senior policy-level officials from the
executive departments, agencies, and offices represented on the
Committee on Ocean Policy established by section 3 of Executive
Order 13366 of December 17, 2004. This Task Force is not meant to
duplicate that structure, but rather is intended to be a temporary
entity with the following responsibilities:

The Task Force shall develop recommendations that include:
a. A national policy that ensures the protection,
maintenance, and restoration of the health of ocean,
coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources,
enhances the sustainability of ocean and coastal
economies, preserves our maritime heritage, provides
for adaptive management to enhance our understanding
of and capacity to respond to climate change, and is
coordinated with our national security and foreign
policy interests. The recommendations should prioritize
upholding our stewardship responsibilities and ensuring
accountability for all of our actions affecting
ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources, and
be consistent with international law, including
customary international law as reflected in the 1982
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
b. A United States framework for policy
coordination of efforts to improve stewardship of
the oceans, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. The Task
Force should review the Federal Government’s existing
policy coordination framework to ensure integration
and collaboration across jurisdictional lines in meeting
the objectives of a national policy for the oceans,
our coasts, and the Great Lakes. This will include
coordination with the work of the National Security
Council and Homeland Security Council as they formulate
and coordinate policy involving national and homeland
security, including maritime security. The framework
should also address specific recommendations to improve
coordination and collaboration among Federal, State,
tribal, and local authorities, including regional
governance structures.
c. An implementation strategy that identifies and
prioritizes a set of objectives the United States should
pursue to meet the objectives of a national policy for
the oceans, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.
2. Within 180 days from the date of this memorandum, the Task
Force shall develop, with appropriate public input, a recommended
framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning. This
framework should be a comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based
approach that addresses conservation, economic activity, user
conflict, and sustainable use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes
resources consistent with international law, including customary
international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea.
3. The Task Force shall terminate upon the completion of its
The Task Force’s recommendations and frameworks should be cost
effective and improve coordination across Federal agencies.
This memorandum covers matters involving the oceans, the
Great Lakes, the coasts of the United States (including its
territories and possessions), and related seabed, subsoil, and
living and non-living resources.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right
or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in
equity by any party against the United States, its departments,
agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any
other person. Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to
impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the
Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary,
administrative, regulatory, and legislative proposals.
The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality is hereby
authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal