New Joint Ocean Commission Report Shares NRDC Healthy Seas Priorities for Obama Administration, Congress

Today, a bi-partisan group of leading citizens called on the Obama Administration and Congress to take swift action to protect the health of our oceans. The recommendations are contained in the report Changing Oceans, Changing World: Ocean Priorities for the Obama Administration and Congress. The report was developed by the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI), an initiative dedicated to implementation of the recommendations of two national ocean commissions, the independent Pew Oceans Commission and the congressionally established U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

In developing the report, JOCI sought input from ocean leaders, including NRDC. For example, in January, I participated in a two-day meeting in Annapolis hosted by JOCI where we provided our views on what the ocean priorities for this Administration and this Congress should be.

I am pleased that the report includes key ocean policy recommendations that NRDC supports and is already working to promote. For example, here are some:

  • The Administration and Congress should establish a national ocean policy, specifically that it is the policy of the United States to protect, maintain, and restore the health of ocean, coastal, and Great lakes ecosystems and enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies. Further, it should require that federal agencies administer U.S. policies and laws to the fullest extent possible consistent with this national policy.
  • The Administration and Congress should support regional, ecosystem-based approaches to the management of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and support ecosystem-scale scientific research to support these efforts.
  • The Administration should support expedited implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and management Act, with Congress ensuring that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has the necessary funding to effectively implement the Act's provisions.
  • The Administration should work to ensure that the Arctic Ocean is managed in a comprehensive, integrated, and science-based manner.
  • The Administration should fully implement the illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
  • As the Administration and Congress craft proposals to address climate change, a portion of any funds generated by the sale of carbon credits pursuant to a cap and trade or tax system should be dedicated to protecting, maintaining, and restoring ocean and coastal ecosystems, as well as promoting greater scientific understanding of the relationship between the oceans and climate change.

As then-Presidential Candidate Barack Obama said: "Oceans are crucial to the earth's ecosystem and to all Americans because they drive global weather patterns, feed our people, and are a major source of employment for fisheries and recreation. As president, I will commit my administration to develop the kind of strong, integrated, well managed program of ocean stewardship that is essential to sustain a healthy marine environment."

The Joint Ocean Commission report lays out a blueprint for such a strong program of ocean stewardship. NRDC is committed to working with this Administration and this Congress to bring this blueprint to life.