Selected tag(s): Oceans Policy

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.

Never miss a post! Subscribe to EDFish via a email or a feed reader.

Posted in Uncategorized / Also tagged , , , | Read 1 Response

EDF Applauds NOAA’s New Catch Share Policy and Introduces the Catch Shares Action Toolkit

Amanda Leland, Oceans Program - National Policy DirectorA policy released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) charts an historic new course for the nation’s fish stocks, giving hope for the recovery of struggling fishing communities and depleted fish resources. With the new policy, NOAA is seeking to correct decades of failed management that has resulted in economically-depressed, unsafe, and unsustainable fisheries around the country.

The policy promotes greater use of catch shares, and we at EDF applaud NOAA for promoting this innovative fisheries management approach proven to improve fishermen’s lives and livelihoods and restore fish populations. NOAA’s policy builds upon the significant work of fishermen, fishing communities, scientists, fishery managers, and conservationists to design and implement catch shares in fisheries around the country.

Catch shares work for fishermen and fish populations because they include science-based annual catch limits, accountability measures to ensure compliance with those limits, and effective enforcement. At the same time, catch shares give fishermen greater flexibility for how to run their businesses, which improves economic performance.

NOAA’s new policy does not mandate catch shares for fisheries but rather makes important changes in strategy and operations, providing incentives and support for fishery managers who pursue catch shares. In particular, the draft policy:

  • Promotes the consideration and adoption, where appropriate, of catch share programs in federal fisheries.
  • Removes technical and administrative impediments to catch shares.
  • Provides technical and other support to those regional fishery management councils that choose to pursue catch shares.
  • Enhances outreach, education and assistance to stakeholders.
  • Promotes the development of technical guidance on specific program design elements.
  • Supports adaptive management through new research and performance monitoring of catch share programs over time.

The policy has been released in draft form but will take effect immediately. NOAA will take public comments for the next 120 days.

Today, as NOAA announces their new policy, EDF introduces the Catch Shares Action Toolkit to provide a resource for supporters of catch shares and encourage them to take action by telling NOAA and others that catch shares fishery management is the right policy to protect and restore the public’s ocean fishery resources, and increase profitability, wages, and safety for fishermen.

The toolkit features videos of fishermen sharing their stories about the failures of the current management system and why they support catch shares programs. The toolkit also encourages catch share supporters to engage in the dialog about catch shares through commenting online to NOAA and news articles, spreading the word about the benefit of catch shares to their friends, and submitting their own stories.

Today over 50 federally-managed stocks are overfished or experiencing overfishing. Under current management, meeting a Congressionally-mandated deadline to end overfishing by 2011 will mean ever-shorter fishing seasons and long-term closures for many prized species which will have a devastating impact on coastal communities. Catch shares allow continued fishing even while fish stocks recover.

We encourage all catch share supporters and those who want to learn more about this solution for our struggling fisheries to visit our new Catch Shares Action Toolkit.

Posted in Uncategorized / Also tagged , , , , , | Read 10 Responses