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Obama Task Force Releases Second Part of Draft Ocean Policy

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Today President Obama’s Ocean Policy Task Force released the second part of its Draft National Ocean Policy that focuses on coastal and marine spatial planning. The 60-day public review and comment period on the new draft is now open.

After the close of the comment period on February 13, the Task Force will finalize its recommendations while incorporating revisions to the first part of the proposed new ocean policy (released in September 10, 2009)  and provide a final report to the President in early 2010. Read about the first part of the report.

Ocean activists around the U.S. will be rallying for a strong national ocean policy before the final is released. Sea Turtle Restoration Project urges all sea turtle and ocean lovers to celebrate Wear Blue for the Ocean Day on January 13. Read more on Facebook.

Under the draft plan, coastal and marine spatial planning would be regional in scope, developed cooperatively among Federal, State, tribal, local authorities, and regional governance structures, with substantial stakeholder and public input, according to the White House press office.  See the interim report.

For more details on the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, including the Interim Framework, and to submit your comments, please go to www.whitehouse.gov/oceans.

The White House stated that the Interim Framework includes a number of important provisions that would significantly overhaul the Federal government’s approach to coastal and marine planning, including:

· A New Approach to How We Use and Protect the Ocean, Coast, and Great Lakes. The Interim Framework is designed to: decrease user conflicts; improve planning and regulatory efficiencies and decrease their associated costs and delays; and preserve critical ecosystem function and services.  The Interim Framework describes how such plans would be developed and implemented, and provides timeframes and steps for phased implementation of the framework.

·  Moves us Away From Sector-by-Sector and Statute-by-Statute Decision-Making. While many existing permitting processes include aspects of coordinated planning, most focus solely on a limited range of management tools and outcomes (e.g., oil and gas leases, fishery management plans, and marine protected areas).  Comprehensive marine spatial spatial planning presents a more integrated, comprehensive, ecosystem-based, flexible, and proactive approach to planning and managing uses and activities.

·    Brings Federal, State, and Tribal Partners Together in an Unprecedented Manner to Jointly Plan for the Future.  The Interim Framework is not a top-down planning effort. Rather, it describes a new approach to Federal resource planning that is regionally based and developed cooperatively among Federal, State, tribal, and local authorities, and regional governance structures, through the establishment of nine regional planning bodies.

Places Science-Based Information at the Heart of Decision-Making:  Scientific data, information and knowledge, as well as relevant traditional knowledge, will be the underpinning of the regionally developed plans.

Emphasizes Stakeholder and Public Participation:  The planning process would be fully transparent and participatory – requiring frequent and robust stakeholder engagement throughout all steps of the process (i.e., development, adoption, implementation, adaptation and evaluation).