Earlier today, the National Ocean Council released a new Implementation Plan for the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. We asked our colleague Morgan Gopnik, formerly a senior advisor to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, to summarize this new plan.
Today marks a momentous and long-awaited milestone for true ocean policy geeks: at noon the National Ocean Council released a draft Implementation Plan for the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes! If this announcement makes you yawn, you are not alone. But wait! This new Plan could be truly significant for anyone who cares about ocean ecosystems and resources or coastal communities. Let me explain.
As most readers of Southern Fried Science probably know, the last decade has produced many depressing stories about declines in ocean health: overharvested fish stocks, waning biodiversity, “dead zones,” invasive species, oil spills, etc. It has also produced a number of studies and high-level Commission reports suggesting solutions to these problems, most notably the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s “Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century,” released in September 2004. (Full disclosure: I served as Senior Advisor to the Commission.) The Blueprint provided lots of recommendations (212 in all) about controlling pollution, managing fisheries, protecting shorelines, and addressing other specific problems. But its major theme and most significant contribution was to emphasize the need to fundamentally change our approach to ocean management and governance.