President Obama signed an Executive Order Monday that establishes a national ocean policy and creates a framework for protecting federal waters, coasts and the Great Lakes through coastal and marine spatial planning.
The Executive Order is based on recommendations developed by an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which was created by the Obama administration in June 2009.
In the past, the U.S. has managed its coasts and ocean in a piecemeal fashion. More than 20 federal agencies apply 140 laws in pursuit of their
individual mandates, often in isolation from each other, according to the group Ocean Conservancy. As a result, planning
is neither proactive nor based on shared goals, but rather reactive and
driven by single sectors without a comprehensive vision. Ocean Conservancy said Obama’s order could remendy the situation, charging leaders to work together for better ocean
"Coastal and marine spatial planning will allow for more transparent decisions about how to manage conflicting uses while maintaining and restoring the health of the ocean," said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy. "Growing demands from traditional ocean users and new industries such as renewable energy, our ocean is getting more crowded and we are taking bigger risks with fragile ecosystems essential for life on our planet.”
The executive order creates a new National Ocean Council to coordinate the work of numerous federal agencies involved in conservation and marine planning.
The spatial planning process will limit recreational and commercial activities to designated zones that will be overseen by new regional organizations, under the auspices of the National Ocean Council.
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