At a time when our nation continues to struggle with the heartbreaking devastation of BP's Gulf oil spill, good news for the future health of oceans and coasts has been delivered. Yesterday, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Like the Clean Air Act for our air and the Clean Water Act for our water, now, at long last, we have a policy for our oceans.
This simple act was anything but. With a stroke of a pen, the President made healthy oceans a national value, and laid out a vision of healthy, safe and productive coasts and oceans for ours and for future generations. This vision now becomes the operational mission of the 20 federal agencies that manage our oceans and coasts, and they will be required to coordinate their efforts under a mandate to protect, maintain and restore ocean health.
This paradigm shift seemed to happen so fast, but it was years in the making. On June 12th, 2009, Obama charged the Interagency Task Force to make recommendations for this policy and how to implement it, and to define a framework for coastal and marine spatial planning. The Task Force, led by CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, did incredible work over the course of the year, engaging a broad array of stakeholder groups and citizens, and delivering the well framed documents that were finalized today. However, the foundations of this milestone were established even earlier with the 2003 Pew Oceans Commission Report and the 2004 U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Report, which largely agreed and highlighted the need for a national ocean policy. Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) has been fighting for Oceans-21, a bill intended to turn the commission recommendations, including enactment of a National Ocean Policy, into law since 2005.
So, today's announcement is neither small nor sudden. It is a massive achievement built on years of passion and commitment. Ocean Champions applauds President Obama for his leadership. We recognize the good work of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, including Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco. We also salute the leadership shown by Congressman Farr and many others in building the ocean policy issue to the point where it was ready for Executive action. Today's action provides hope for a future with clean coastal and ocean waters, abundant wildlife, prosperous fisheries, and thriving coastal communities.
As you well know, establishing a National Ocean Policy has been a priority for Ocean Champions since our inception. Together we helped make it happen. Congratulations to all who worked hard for this important victory.
For the oceans,
The Ocean Champions Team
P.S. Please click here to thank President Obama for his leadership.