(Washington, D.C.) – In response to the release of the Executive Order Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, released the following statement.
“The ocean has much to offer, but only through better understanding of this precious resource that covers 71 percent of our Earth’s surface can we sustain and advance economic, national, homeland, food, and energy securities. Our unparalleled ocean science and technology community can and must be utilized to enable a healthy and productive ocean that thrives as a source of employment, energy, commerce, food, and recreation for billions around the globe.
The new policy calls the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes ‘foundational to the economy, security, global competitiveness, and well-being of the United States.’ While I agree with that statement, it is important to remember that this foundation depends upon ocean knowledge, science-based decision making and management, sustainable use, and effective partnerships among ocean stakeholders. Growing America’s ocean economy and security without maintaining a seaman’s eye toward ocean health and sustainability is akin to building a ship without a keel. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) looks forward to working with federal agencies and the administration to ensure that, in the implementation of this policy, science-based decision making ensures the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes are secure, healthy, clean, resilient, and sustainable.
COL and its members from academia, industry, and aquaria fully support the prioritization of partnerships as indicated in this new policy. To wit, our March Public Policy Forum clearly confirmed the need for extensive collaboration in science-based management of the ocean, but the challenge is vast — in addition to state and local governments, there are 16 federal agencies involved in ocean science, technology, or marine research; more than 600 businesses engaged in ocean observation and forecasting; in excess of 400 postsecondary institutions offering ocean-related degrees or certificates; and over 45,000 nonprofits focused on ocean and coastal activities. I look forward to building and enabling more partnerships moving forward, including through the use of vehicles such as the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. I find it hard to imagine a case where coordination on these matters, such as sustainable fishing and aquaculture, energy development, and maritime commerce would not be appropriate.
As this new policy is implemented, COL stands ready to work with federal agencies, the administration, and other partners to ensure increased ocean knowledge and collaboration will advance interests in line with these priorities while ensuring a healthy and productive ocean. We continue to support the vision of the late Admiral James D. Watkins, who, in his 2004 testimony before Congress and in the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report envisioned a future where
‘the coasts are attractive places to live, work, and play, with clean water and beaches, easy public access, sustainable and strong economies, safe bustling harbors and ports, adequate roads and services, and special protection for sensitive habitats and threatened species. Beach closings, toxic algal blooms, proliferation of invasive species, and vanishing native species are rare. Better land-use planning and improved predictions of severe weather and other natural hazards save lives and money.’”