OK, clearly the Bush administration is not making global warming a priority. But, in terms of protecting the ocean and its resources — there seems to be more being done than I thought. I recently began following-up on US ocean policy and spent some time browsing around the Council for Environmental Quality’s Committee on Ocean Policy website, which details the work being done by the US government to protect US waters. I was curious to see what work had been done by the US in response to the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. To my surprise, the US is addressing the issues as outlined in the report including resource protection, transportation, ocean resource use, science, education, mapping, and other topics.

To meet the challenges raised by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, President Bush issued an Executive Order on December 17, 2004, declaring that it shall be the policy of the United States to:

“Coordinate the activities of executive departments and agencies regarding ocean-related matters in an integrated and effective manner to advance the environmental, economic, and security interests of present and future generations of Americans; and facilitate, as appropriate, coordination and consultation regarding ocean-related matters among Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments, the private sector, foreign governments, and international organizations.”

At the top of the Committee on Ocean Policy hierarchy is the Interagency Committee on Ocean Science and Resource Management Integration (ICOSRMI), which has a broad mandate to:

Functions:

  • Coordinate and integrate activities of ocean-related Federal agencies and provide incentives for meeting national goals
  • Identify statutory and regulatory redundancies or omissions and develop strategies to resolve conflicts, fill gaps, and address new emerging ocean issues for national and regional benefits
  • Guide the effective use of science in ocean policy and ensure the availability of data and information for decision making at national and regional levels
  • Develop and support partnerships among government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, academia, and the public
  • Coordinate education and outreach efforts by Federal ocean and coastal agencies
  • Periodically assess the state of the Nation’s oceans and coasts to measure the achievement of national ocean goals
  • Make recommendations to the Committee on Ocean Policy for developing and carrying out national ocean policy, including domestic implementation of international ocean agreements.

Beneath the ICOSRMI are two subcommittees. One is the Subcommittee on Integrated Management of Ocean Resources (SIMOR), which includes functions such as:

  • Facilitate and coordinate the work of existing ocean and coastal interagency groups focused on the management of living and nonliving marine resources
  • Recommend the creation of new topical task forces as needed
  • Coordinate with government-wide environmental and natural resource efforts that have important ocean components
  • Identify opportunities for improvements in the application of science for ecosystem-based management of ocean resources
  • Identify priority research needs that can enhance management capabilities
  • Facilitate use of ocean science and technology, including ocean observations, in the implementation of ocean and coastal management and policies
  • Recommend assessments and analyses of Federal ocean resource management initiatives
  • Identify opportunities and articulate priorities for enhancing ocean education, outreach, and capacity building
  • Identify opportunities for the promotion of international collaboration in ocean resource management

The other subcommittee is the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (JSOST), which is currently developing the Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy designed to establish and realize priorities for ocean science and technology. The current draft document Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States: Research Priorities for the Next Decade, presents national ocean research priorities. This document was developed by the JSOST using input generated from a public workshop held on April 18-20, 2006 and input from public comment. The JSOST is currently planning a series of public regional briefings and town hall meetings to update the ocean community on the development of the national ocean research priorities and solicit feedback.

I highly encourage you to visit the Council for Environmental Quality’s Committee on Ocean Policy website. Tell me what you think about the US response to the report of the US Commission on Ocean Policy. For now, I’m encouraged by the implementation of their recommendations, but plan to delve more deeply into this when time allows to determine whether this work is being effective.