Washington, D.C.—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, and this morning the Natural Resources Committee convened a hearing on this policy. Contrary to attempts by House Republicans to color the policy as restrictive “ocean zoning,” the issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress, “National Ocean Policy Ensures Economic Growth, Security, and Resilience,” shows that a comprehensive, collaborative approach to managing our ocean resources—as embodied by this policy—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. The benefits of the National Ocean Policy, as elaborated on in this issue brief include:
- Comprehensive NOP will increase government efficiency, enable sound management of government resources, and spend taxpayer dollars wisely.
- National Ocean Policy will preserve the health of oceans and the local economies they support.
- National Ocean Policy answers a national security and economic imperative.
- Coordination begets efficiency; its absence leads to chaos.
America’s oceans are effectively our last frontier. And while they comprise federally managed space, the bulk of their users live and work in adjacent coastal areas. Thus our exclusive economic zone presents a unique regulatory challenge. We have seen how the policies of the past—a first-come, first-served race to plant a flag—lead to chaos and delay. Lack of certainty means a lack of financing. A lack of financing means a lack of economic growth. And a lack of growth means a lack of jobs. Until we can create a process that brings all stakeholders to the table to air grievances and share solutions, we will continue to stagger along in a series of fits, starts, and lawsuits that will leave America’s ocean industries falling farther and farther behind our international counterparts. Support for the National Ocean Policy is support for the future of America’s ocean industries.
To speak with experts on this issue, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202-481-8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.