Selected tag(s): Obama

President’s Budget Includes $28 Million for Catch Shares

President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2013 budget earlier today, and we are pleased to see that it includes $174 million for sustainable fisheries work by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The appropriation will fund the science and management needed to support the commercial fishing industry that’s responsible for 1 million jobs and yields more than $32 billion in income every year.

The president’s budget includes $28 million for the National Catch Share Program, a critical part of the nation’s strategy to return its fisheries to abundance and keep fishermen on the water.  It is the same level adopted by the Congress last year.  We applaud the president and Congress for their support of catch share programs and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that important fishery management functions have adequate funding and fishermen have all the tools they need, including catch shares.

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Obama to Announce Final Recommendations of Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and Creation of a New National Ocean Council

Diane Regas, Vice President - EDF Oceans Program

Diane Regas, Vice President - EDF Oceans Program

I am eagerly anticipating an event at the White House this afternoon; I am headed over for the official announcement of the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.  I hear that the President will sign an Executive Order to implement the recommendations later this week and create a new National Ocean Council.  Once that’s done we will have a new policy to protect our oceans while making use of their abundant resources, and the structural changes in the government designed to make that policy a reality.

Some will probably look at this as a government re-organization, and ask, “When do those re-organizations matter?”  You might be tempted to answer “never”, but that’s not true.  When President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency the result was cleaner air to breathe, cleaner water to drink and greater safety from toxic pollution for everyone in this country.  None of those results happened overnight—some of them even took decades.

Today’s announcement by President Obama’s advisors could have the same positive impact on our oceans as Nixon’s EPA announcement had on our health and environment.  And like getting cleaner air and water, much of the work Obama has laid out for the oceans will take decades.  The leaders of this effort—especially CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, Drs. Jane Lubchenco and John Holdren—will be able to look back decades from now and take credit for an important turning point for the oceans.

Because of their vision, the new National Ocean Council will take on the biggest problems our oceans face:  how do oceans and coastal communities adapt to climate change?  How do we restore ecosystems so that the oceans are healthy and produce healthy seafood?  How do we address practices on land that are polluting the oceans, creating vast dead zones?  How do we protect the fragile Arctic from the ravages of climate change?

I hope you are as eager as I am to see progress—I want these problems solved tomorrow.  But solving big problems right takes longer than that, so I applaud the Administration for taking the time to get the science right, and for creating a place at the table for important stakeholders like commercial and recreational fishermen and native communities.  The plans announced today mean every region of our oceans will finally get an integrated, comprehensive blueprint for how to get the most out of the oceans—and make sure the oceans are healthy in long run.

When our children and grandchildren head out to catch their dinner from an abundant ocean and can take their catch home to a house powered by sustainable ocean energy, they’ll have the National Ocean Council to thank for it.

Diane Regas is VP for Oceans at the Environmental Defense Fund and was one of the original co-chairs of the Subcommittee for the Integrated Management of Ocean Resources in 2005.

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Task Force Seeks to Harmonize Government Policy for the Oceans

Amanda Leland, EDF Oceans Program - National Policy DirectorThe Obama administration took a big step towards harmonizing the policies of the federal government as it relates to oceans.  With 140 federal laws and more than 20 federal agencies and commissions covering the oceans, you can imagine how difficult it can be to keep everything straight. 

The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force issued its report yesterday outlining a new unifying national ocean policy to advance environmental, economic and others goals.  The next step is for the Task Force to report on how the operations of the government might change to better implement this policy consistent with federal law.   

 This new national ocean policy was a core recommendation of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. The task force’s report is an important and welcomed step but the bigger picture is perhaps more exciting.  The report signals that the Obama administration is focusing on the oceans, raising it to the highest levels government.  There is much more to be done for the oceans, but this is a terrific step.

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