Officials of the Obama administration’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force released their interim report for a 30-day public review and comment period. The task force, 24 senior-level officials from a cross-section of administration agencies, departments and offices, proposed a comprehensive national approach to protect the ocean, U.S. coasts, and the Great Lakes.
“This Interim Report represents a wide spectrum of views and considerations, not just from within the federal government, but from members of the public, local officials, stakeholders and experts from coast to coast,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and head of the task force.
A June 12 presidential memorandum created the group and charged them with creating an implementation strategy to meet the objectives of a national ocean policy within 90 days. Within 180 days, the task force is charged with developing a recommended framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning.
The report proposes a national policy of stewardship with modifications to the existing governance structure. Under the proposal, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy would lead an interagency National Ocean Council to coordinate ocean-related issues across the Federal Government and the implementation of the National Ocean Policy.
The report prioritizes nine categories for action, including ecosystem-based management, regional ecosystem protection and restoration, and strengthened and integrated observing systems.
The task force will hold at least five more regional public meetings in San Francisco, Providence, R.I., Cleveland, New Orleans and Honolulu. The initial meeting was held in Anchorage, Alaska on Aug. 21. Expert briefings will continue while the Interim Report is available for review and public comment. It is online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/oceans. The task force is expected to provide a final report with all of its recommendations later this year.