Trump Administration Cuts Nation’s Ocean Policy

President Trump’s decision to revoke our National Ocean Policy is a step backward. Today’s Executive Order eliminates the requirement to work hand in hand with coastal states and tribes to address major ocean threats.

President Trump’s decision to revoke our National Ocean Policy, Executive Order 13547, is an irresponsible move.

Our multi-billion dollar ocean economy employs millions of people and is growing rapidly. Here on the Atlantic Coast, we have massive new ships on the way as a result of the Panama Canal expansion, soaring demand for offshore sand mining to rebuild beaches, and new uses like offshore wind and aquaculture. And our ocean waters are home to a wide variety of wildlife, from critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and sea turtles, to dolphins and a rich array of fish.

Yet it’s a confusing world offshore. Dozens of state and federal agencies—many with overlapping and sometimes conflicting responsibilities—make decisions about ocean development.

We need agencies—federal and state—committed to working together. Collaborating early on, they can identify and resolve conflicts before there are problems. To promote responsible ocean growth that keeps our ocean life healthy and supports our families and businesses for multiple generations, we need more, not less, coordination.

And under the National Ocean Policy, ocean management has improved. For example, two regions have developed ocean plans based on science and stakeholder input to guide agencies’ work to advance responsible development. States from Maine to Virginia crafted these plans over several years, together with regional fisheries managers, tribes, and federal agencies—with extensive industry and public involvement. The regional plans set best practices for state and federal agencies to collaborate on pressing issues states want help to address, including sand mining and aquaculture.

Yet today, President Trump revoked the 2010 National Ocean Policy and issued a new Executive Order that no longer requires federal members to continue planning together with states and tribes for the future. There is no longer a requirement to work with states to provide for coordinated ocean protection and there is no longer a national policy to promote healthy ocean ecosystems.

The dialogue that has existed between the states and federal partners has been essential in helping advance true change that people in the regions want to see. I hope federal partners continue to show up and help advance states’ goals because we know for sure that putting our heads in the sand won’t help. We need federal and state agencies to work together and keep the waters off our shores healthy and drive our coastal economy for the long haul.