Scientists, fishermen and the environmental community are applauding this month’s release of a draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan by the National Ocean Council and the Obama administration.
The plan, released last week, lays out more than 56 actions the federal government will take to improve the health of the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.
“President Obama has displayed historic leadership in setting priorities to address the most pressing threats facing our oceans,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “Water is the lifeblood of our planet, and America’s treasured coasts and seas make up a significant part of Interior’s stewardship portfolio. Implementing this plan is a major priority for Interior and its agencies.”
Among other things, the draft calls for strengthening and integrating the nation’s network of ocean observing systems, sensors, data collection and management and mapping capabilities into a single national system, and integrating that system with international efforts. The council has already established http://www.data.gov/ocean as a prototype of the kind tool that could make information easily available to everyone from scientists and policymakers to teachers and their students.
It also calls for ecosystem-based management approaches to fisheries and other ocean resources. Where traditional management approaches typically focus on a single species or use, the draft notes, “ecosystems are complex, dynamic assemblages of diverse, interacting organisms, habitats, and environmental factors shaped by natural and human influences.”
Integrated information systems and ecosystem-based management were among the high-priority tools suggested by the West Coast Regional Ocean Research and Information Plan, developed in 2009 by Oregon Sea Grant and four other West Coast Sea Grant programs at the behest of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The new draft plan also calls for an investment in ocean literacy programs for America’s schools and universities,
The government is soliciting public comments on the plan through Feb. 27, 2012. To read the full plan and submit comments, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/oceans/implementationplan