Ocean Policy Roundtable: What’s Marine Transportation Got To Do With It?

2018-10-04T15:43:00+00:00 October 1, 2018|

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What It Was

The Wilson Center Polar Initiative and U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System hosted an ocean policy roundtable event, “What’s Marine Transportation Got to Do with It?” to discuss the role that marine transportation currently plays in ocean policy and how that will evolve alongside the changing ocean. The roundtable featured a panel of experts with maritime transportation interests and expertise from the federal government, nonprofits (including COL’s President and CEO, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White), and other countries.

Why It Matters

Ninety-five percent of all the imports to the nation occur through ocean carriers, making marine transportation a vital component of the blue economy that touches virtually every aspect of American life — from clothes to food to cars. In June 2018, the president signed Executive Order 13840, “Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States.” The executive order directs federal agencies to facilitate the economic growth of coastal communities and to promote ocean industries to ensure the economic, security, and environmental interests of the United States.

Key Points

Mr. Deerin Babb-Brott (Principal Assistant Director for Oceans and the Environment, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) opened the event by talking about the executive order, stating that marine transportation played a key role in framing the focus on geospatial data, ocean science technology, and stakeholder engagement at the regional and national levels.

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, was one of the speakers on the panel. White began by describing the undeniable change that is happening in and around the ocean, from that of the climate to changes in technology, transportation and infrastructure.

Facilitating the economic growth of coastal communities while the coast lines are changing, promoting ocean industries that employ millions of Americans, advancing science and technology, feeding the growing population, transporting goods, expanding recreational opportunities, and enhancing our energy security all require marine transportation and must be embedded in ocean knowledge, science, and technology. To make scientifically informed policy decisions, White suggested that new capabilities in ocean observing and data collection, such as environmental DNA and ocean sound, should be utilized.

White stated the need for the Ocean Policy Committee (which is established in the executive order) to bring agencies together to solve these current and emerging problems. “The Ocean Policy Committee is going to be key as it deals with change, transportation and infrastructure, and science-based decision making,” he closed. “Being successful is having an ocean that is healthy, sustainable, and supports the increase in maritime transportation.”

The rest of the panel discussion touched on a number of issues, including maritime priorities and policies in Norway and Denmark, two nations that depend heavily on maritime transportation.


“The ocean is changing. It is changing in terms of, not just the sea level rise, not just the warming and changes in pH, but it is changing in terms of its chemistry and it’s changing in terms of the blue economy” — Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

“Understanding the ocean and understanding what’s going to happen with society, technology and transportation — the nexus of that is critical — and that’s why I believe the ocean policy and things that were talked about are key right now.” — Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Find Out More

Watch the full panel

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

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