Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Draft US Ocean Policy - A Fresh Start?

Back in June, President Obama issued a memorandum that established an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which was designed to review the nation's oceans policy and make recommendations for creating and implementing a new approach to oceans and the Great Lakes. While the cynical response is that such task forces are all style and no substance, it was at least good to see that the Obama Administration thought ocean policy important enough to even consider making changes at a time when its agenda is already packed full with health care reform and climate change. The Task Force issued its draft report yesterday, as reported in the New York Times (a link to the report is included in the story).

The government agency heads and directors who make up the Task Force have produced a promising report. Especially since they recommend that ecosystem-based management should be the "foundational principle for the comprehensive management of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes." It's about time such an approach became commonplace - the idea that you can set catch limits for a fishery without examining the rest of the ecosystem is highly inaccurate. It belongs to an era when doctors endorsed cigarettes in ads.

Since the report is only an interim report, there's time for the public to read and comment on it. If you'd like to comment on, say, how the US shouldn't forget about the Antarctic as it sets its ocean policy priorities, go here.

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