Today at noon I will witness the dawning of an important new council dedicated to protecting our precious and threatened Atlantic Ocean: the Governors' Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on Oceans (MARCO). Five Mid-Atlantic governors (from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia) are committing to work together to improve the health of this body of water that provides important jobs, revenue, and natural resources to each state. You can watch the signing ceremony live from New York City.
With the official signing ceremony (and expert briefings throughout the day on recommendations for moving forward), the Mid-Atlantic jumps to being a regional player on the ocean protection scene, on par with ecosystem-wide efforts by bodies like the West Coast Governors' Agreement.
And what better way to begin than by announcing important steps they plan to take together? The agreement indicates the states will work together to:
- Identify measures to protect the region's sensitive habitats, beginning with the 10 offshore canyons that stretch from New York to Virginia; a series of remarkable oasis of corals, fish, and marine mammals just off the Atlantic seaboard
- Work together to help encourage wind development in the most appropriate offshore areas and improve coordination for projects that affect each others' and the federal government's ocean jurisdictions
- Develop regional climate change adaption plans so that we have a coordinated process to identify and protect the states' vulnerable economic and environmental infrastructure.
- Join forces to encourage federal investment in wastewater infrastructure, which can significantly impact the health of the region's tourism and fishing industries through threats to water quality
- Engage the region's diverse marine interests as partners in advancing the Mid-Atlantic States' shared agenda by hosting a Mid-Atlantic Ocean Stakeholder Summit in late 2009
In the coming months the council will be taking important actions to advance these initiatives. There is much to be done, but working together and building on each others' efforts, we can protect and restore our shared backyard and economic engine - the Atlantic Ocean.