President Obama signs an Executive Order establishing our Nation’s first National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. Photo/

The Obama Administration released its final plan for translating the National Ocean Policy into on-the-ground actions “to benefit the American people.”

With significant public input from a wide spectrum of individuals and interests, the final Implementation Plan aims to coordinate and speed Federal permitting decisions; better manage the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources that drive so much of our economy; develop and disseminate sound scientific information that local communities, industries, and decision-makers can use; and collaborate more effectively with state, tribal, and local partners, marine industries, and other stakeholders. Without creating any new regulations or authorities, the plan will help the many Federal agencies involved in ocean management work together to reduce duplication and red tape and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.

Key goals of the plan include:

  • Providing better forecasting of ocean conditions and events to protect beachgoers and consumers from threats to their health and safety
  • Sharing more and better data about severe storms and sea level rise, which will help coastal communities prepare for threats
  • Supporting voluntary regional marine planning based on regional and local priorities
  • Improving the Federal permitting process to save time and money for ocean-based industries and taxpayers, while protecting health, safety, and the environment
  • Restoring important habitats that protect communities and support healthy ocean resources
  • Improving our capability to predict conditions and prevent negative impacts as activity in the Arctic increases

The final Plan incorporates suggestions from the significant public input received on the draft, including key support for local and regional capacity and self-determination, and the development of more and better information related to ocean conditions. The Plan specifies that regional stakeholders will determine the scope, scale and content of collaborative marine planning, that participation is voluntary, and that regional planning bodies will be established only in regions that want them. It also recognizes the broad interests in the Arctic in national security, domestic energy and natural resources, and environmental and cultural sustainability as it becomes more accessible due to climate change. Under the Plan, agencies will work together to address challenges in the Arctic region, focusing on data management, accurate mapping and charting, sea-ice forecasting, and readiness for environmental incident response.

The National Ocean Policy, established by Executive Order on July 19, 2010, created a National Ocean Council consisting of 27 Federal agencies and departments, providing a venue for agencies to work together cooperatively, share information, and streamline decision-making. The Council developed the Implementation Plan over the past two years with extensive input from national, regional, and local stakeholders from all marine sectors; tribal, State, and local governments; the private sector, scientists, and the public.

To read the Implementation Plan, please CLICK HERE.

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