Tell the Obama administration to develop strong plans to protect our oceans

I encourage everyone to take advantage of a unique opportunity to set the course of our oceans’ health for generations to come.

Our ocean is facing innumerable threats – from overfishing and pollution to ocean acidification and invasive species – and it needs urgent attention. One major step forward toward protecting our ocean resources came last July when President Obama established America's first-ever National Ocean Policy. Like a Clean Air Act for our air or a Clean Water Act for our water, we finally have a bedrock environmental policy for our oceans. The President also set up a National Ocean Council (made of existing federal agencies) to work together to ensure that we have a coordinated effort to protect and restore our ocean resources.

This new National Ocean Council was tasked with developing strategies to fix some of the most pressing challenges facing our oceans' health. And they are asking for the public’s help.

The council just released outlines of the steps that federal agencies plan to take to address these priority issues, and is accepting public comments on these outlines through July 2nd. They are also hosting listening sessions across the country.

The stories that you share at these meetings and the comments you send in will help shape the course of this new National Ocean Policy for years to come.

It is not too much to say that healthy oceans are essential to our very survival. They provide the food, jobs, and recreation that we rely on. They create the air we breathe. And healthy oceans are a vital part of a healthy U.S. economy. The majority of this economic strength comes from recreation, tourism and fish and ocean wildlife, all of which need clean beaches, clean water, and healthy coastal habitat.

We need to ensure that the final plans developed from the Council’s outlines prioritize protection, maintenance and restoration of ocean ecosystems and include specific, short-term actions that agencies will take to improve ocean health. The plans should require that important ocean areas like the mid-Atlantic canyons and seamounts will be protected from harmful activities. Certain areas of the ocean host important habitat for endangered species or serve as critical areas for spawning, breeding and feeding; these places must be protected.

Please take a minute to send in comments and to RSVP for a listening session in Hawaii, New Hampshire, TexasWashington, California, New Jersey, and Oregon. Thank you for helping shape our oceans’ future!

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