Last year President Barack Obama announced the first National Ocean Policy and the creation of a National Ocean Council tasked with its implementation, pursuant to Executive Order 13547. Contrary to attempts by House Republicans to color the policy as restrictive “ocean zoning,” a comprehensive, collaborative approach to managing our ocean resources will help prevent multiuse conflicts, increase efficiency, and ensure ocean economies continue to support American jobs and a high quality of life. The National Ocean Council should be given the necessary support to implement the National Ocean Policy for the benefit of American jobs, economic growth, and security.
A keystone recommendation of the National Ocean Policy, or NOP, is support for implementing a process known as coastal and marine spatial planning, or CMSP. The concept behind CMSP recognizes that as new potential uses of ocean space become increasingly viable, our exclusive economic zone—the area of ocean space extending out to 200 miles from our shores—will grow more crowded. Thus, in order to ensure efficient prioritization of these uses and to reduce conflicts, it makes sense to solicit input from stakeholders upfront rather than allowing a first-come, first-served land grab mentality to dictate how our invaluable ocean resources will be managed.
Contrary to the president’s political opponents’ efforts to portray this policy as a hyper-regulatory economic anchor, the principles contained in the NOP actually pave the way for a more efficient, forward-thinking approach that will benefit both new and existing uses of ocean space. Meanwhile, the status quo supported by House Republicans is a cart-before-the-horse approach that will eliminate certainty, reduce likelihood of private investment, and delay development with an endless stream of lawsuits.
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