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Public Meeting, July 22, 2004 Washington, D.C. Minutes

Sixteenth Meeting of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
Ronald Reagan International Trade Center Amphitheater
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.
July 22, 2004

Commissioners in Attendance:

Honorable James D. Watkins, (Admiral, USN (Ret.)) – Chair
Mr. Ted A. Beattie
Ms. Lillian Borrone
Dr. James M. Coleman
Mr. Lawrence Dickerson
Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, USN
Professor Marc J. Hershman
Mr. Paul L. Kelly
Mr. Christopher Koch
Dr. Frank Muller-Karger
Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg
Mr. William D. Ruckelshaus
Dr. Paul A. Sandifer

Meeting Attendees

A list of meeting attendees, including their affiliation where provided, is included in Appendix 1.



Admiral Watkins called the meeting to order at 8:45 a.m. He informed the audience that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the changes to the Preliminary Report that emerged from comments received from Governors, Tribal Leaders, and stakeholders. He also announced that the Commissioners would be asked for their consensus approval of a draft Final Report. After highlighting key components of the meeting’s agenda, he expressed how gratified the Commissioners have been at the enormous response received throughout the life of the Commission. He stated that, even after the momentous events on September 11, 2001 that occurred just six days before the Commission process began, many people were still compelled to contribute to the development of the Commission’s report. This, he remarked, was a testament to the survival of civic engagement and the democratic process.

He went on to briefly describe the fifteen public meetings hosted by the Commission that took place all over the country. At these meetings, he stated, the Commissioners learned first hand about the pressing issues facing the nation regarding the stewardship of ocean and coastal resources. He noted that documentation from the array of knowledgeable and committed people who testified at these meetings was used to develop the Preliminary Report, which embraces all of the major issues the Commission decided must be dealt with. This huge report, he emphasized, boils down to one simple, sobering reality: the oceans are in serious trouble, and we need to act quickly if we hope to reverse—or even contain—the damage.

He then introduced a video highlighting the content of the Preliminary Report, including its primary recommendations.

Video Presentation

Following the video presentation, Admiral Watkins remarked on the overwhelmingly positive response to the Preliminary Report from the Governors and from Members of Congress. However, he also indicated that, although the report received a high level of support from all parties, many had specific comments and suggestions for change. He noted that summaries of the comments from the Governors and stakeholders were available at the meeting and on the Commission’s website. He also said noted that the Governors’ comments would be available in full on the Commission’s website after the meeting, and that the stakeholder comments would be available on the website when the final report is delivered to the President. He characterized the changes made to the Preliminary Report on the basis of these comments as improvements, and indicated that the document put before the Commissioners today was comprehensive.

He then placed before the Commissioners the draft Final Report and asked unanimous consent that it be considered as read and that the Commission’s Executive Director, Dr. Tom Kitsos, be recognized so that he could outline the proposed changes to the Preliminary Report contained in the draft document. After receiving no objections from the Commissioners, he indicated that Dr. Kitsos should proceed.

Presentation of Proposed Changes to the Preliminary Report

Dr. Kitsos explained that the Commission had received comments totaling more than 600 pages from 37 Governors and 5 Tribal Leaders, as well as suggestions from over 800 public commenters, including experts in a wide-variety of ocean and coastal related fields. He noted that each comment received had been reviewed and considered in the development of the draft Final Report. He added that over 177,000 copies of the Preliminary Report had been downloaded from the Commission’s website.

He summarized the comments received by the Commission from the Governors, Tribal Leaders, and other stakeholders, noting that the Commission decided early on to embrace the participation of and comments from all stakeholders, not just those from coastal states as required under the Oceans Act of 2000.

He stated that, on balance, the Governors’ comments on the Preliminary Report were generally quite favorable and supportive of the major themes and recommendations contained in the report. He said that they provided valuable insights and perspectives on issues and concerns at the state and regional levels, and included examples of successful programs that could serve as models nationwide. 

He also indicated that the vast majority of public commenters thanked the Commission for its hard work, praised the report as comprehensive and balanced, and voiced their support for implementation of the recommendations. And while many were supportive of the report’s major themes and recommendations, he also acknowledged that a significant number of commenters highlighted areas of particular concern.

He then described the general changes made to the Preliminary Report in response to the comments, including:

  • The report has been revised to further emphasize the important role of states, and to clarify that the Commission favors a balanced, not a “top down” approach of shared responsibility to ocean and coastal issues. 
  • The report clarifies the Commission’s intent to embrace all coastal areas and decision makers, including the Great Lakes, U.S. territories, and tribes.
  • Many sections of the report have been revised to address the issue of climate change and its impacts on the oceans and coasts.
  • The importance of cultural heritage in connection with the ocean has been more fully recognized and addressed.
  • Discussions about the funding needed to implement recommendations have been consolidated into an expanded Chapter 30.

He remarked that no major changes were made to Part 1 of the report, which reviews the value and impacts on ocean and coastal resources; the development of ocean policy over the last several decades; and establishes the vision and guiding principles the Commission believes should guide the future of ocean policy.

He stated that several important changes were made to Part 2 of the report, which outlines a new governance framework, including a National Ocean Council, an Assistant to the President, and a President’s Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy. He added that Part 2 of the report also calls for greater federal coordination at the regional level, as well as the creation of voluntary, flexible regional ocean councils representing regional, state, territorial, tribal, and local interests. He stated that Part 2 also calls for more coordinated management in federal waters and the strengthening of the federal agency structure through a phased approach.

He indicated that Chapter 5 had been substantially rewritten to address state perception that the proposed regional process was too “top-down” and inflexible. He remarked that the chapter now emphasizes that regional ocean councils are intended to lessen bureaucratic roadblocks by achieving greater coordination, and should be guided by state and local needs, building on existing regional entities where appropriate. He also noted that the regional research section was modified to recommend that the Governors, not Congress, establish these programs and select an appropriate entity to ensure that useful information products are developed and distributed to decision makers. 

He remarked that the text in Chapter 6 on management in federal waters was modified to acknowledge that states and territories have a significant interest in activities in federal waters off their shores and should be participants in discussions about a coordinated offshore management regime. He added that the    discussion of marine protected areas was revised to clarify that the regional ocean councils and other stakeholders at regional, state, and local levels should be heavily involved in the design, planning, and evaluation of MPAs, although responsibility for implementation will remain with the responsible agencies.

He stated that Part 3 of the report on ocean education and public awareness calls for strengthening the nation’s ocean awareness by building a collaborative ocean education network, incorporating ocean education into the classroom, investing in higher education, including efforts to promote diversity, and expanding and coordinating programs to increase public awareness of ocean issues. He noted that Part 3 now clarifies the need for input from state education authorities in developing a national vision and strategy for ocean education. He added that the key role that marine labs, museums, tourism providers, industry, and others can play is now noted, as is the need to strengthen ocean education programs and opportunities for minority students. He also indicated that a new recommendation has been added to enhance the role of the National Sea Grant College Program in coastal and ocean education.

He continued by describing the few changes that were made to Part 4 of the report, which addresses a variety of coastal issues, including the management of coasts and their watersheds, protection against natural hazards, conservation of coastal habitat, management of sediments and shorelines, and support for marine commerce and transportation. He stated that the report now places additional emphasis on watershed management, recommending the creation of a clearinghouse for watershed best management practices; the coordination of grant and program funds to support such initiatives; and greater support of watershed management by the National Ocean Council and regional ocean councils. In addition, he noted that the recommendations now call on the Department of Agriculture to direct more of its considerable conservation program funds to the conservation and restoration of coastal habitat. Finally, he stated that text was added concerning the effects of upland activities on coastal sediment; recommendations were revised to specify that the Army Corps of Engineers should manage sediment using a regional, ecosystem based approach; and a proposal was made that Congress should require monitoring and study of the impacts caused by past Corps projects.

Next, he described changes made to Part 5 of the report, which addresses water quality issues including coastal water pollution, vessel pollution, marine debris, invasive species, and the creation of a national monitoring network. He remarked that opinion on the recommendation to merge NOAA’s CZARA 6217 nonpoint source pollution program into EPA’s Clean Water Act 319 program was divided, and that revisions were made to the recommendation to specify that the National Ocean Council should review these programs, assess options for improving the implementation of enforceable best management practices and eliminating counterproductive financial disincentives, and make recommendations to Congress on enhancing nonpoint source pollution control efforts, including the possible consolidation of the NOAA and EPA programs.

Responding to comments on the need to expand the discussion about inter-regional and international transport of air pollution, he noted that the report now recommends that EPA and states develop and implement strategies to reduce sources of atmospheric deposition impacting water bodies, building upon plans such as the EPA Air-Water Interface Work Plan and intensifying cooperative international efforts.

He went on to note how the monitoring chapter had been revised to clarify that the nationwide monitoring network is intended to accommodate regional differences and to look beyond traditional water quality parameters to include sediment contaminant levels, atmospheric deposition, and biological conditions. 

He also stated that the invasive species chapter had been modified to place greater emphasis on using existing legal authorities to prohibit the importation of known or potential invasive species and address the spread of invasive species between ports within the United States. He added that the vessel pollution chapter now clarifies that pollution reduction efforts should be balanced between incentives and regulatory measures.

He then described changes made to Part 6 of the report, which addresses fisheries management and marine aquaculture, marine mammals and endangered marine species, coral reef protection, and offshore energy and other mineral resources. He noted that Part 6 also addresses the links between the oceans and human health, and how to maximize the oceans’ beneficial uses and reduce the negative impacts of marine microorganisms.

He stated that the Commission clarified several fisheries management issues, noting that Dedicated Access Privileges should be developed only after adequate public discussion, and that recreational saltwater fishing licenses are necessary for effective data gathering and should utilize existing programs where available.

He also indicated that the section on bycatch had been expanded, with additional text on its impacts on endangered species, such as sea turtles and sea birds, more explanatory language on the use of onboard observers, and a new recommendation to expand conservation engineering programs. He added that the chapter on marine mammals and endangered marine species was also revised to add more information on sea turtles and sea birds and existing conservation recommendations have been modified to encompass these species. The discussion of coral reefs was also revised, he said, to recognize the importance of state and territorial management and to assign responsibility for cold water corals to NOAA.

He also noted that a new section was added to the Oceans and Human Health chapter discussing how ocean and coastal management activities directly or indirectly affect human health, focusing on seafood safety and maintaining beach quality. He explained that a new recommendation in this section focuses on coordinating, implementing and improving existing programs related to contaminated seafood and coastal waters.

Next, Dr. Kitsos described changes that had been made to Part 7 of the report, which addresses the importance of increasing scientific knowledge, including basic and applied research, establishing an Integrated Ocean Observing System, enhancing ocean infrastructure and technology, and modernizing ocean data and information systems. He noted that a new box had been created that summarizes important research areas—basic and applied, ocean and coastal—as discussed throughout the report. He also stated that a section was added that highlights the role of the National Sea Grant program in addressing issues of local, state, and regional concern and recommends a significant expansion of the National Sea Grant College Program. He indicated that another new section and recommendation calls for reestablishment of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.

He remarked that the chapter on the Integrated Ocean Observing System was modified to clarify the need for NOAA, NASA and Ocean.US to jointly plan space-based Earth observation missions; specifies which functions should be transferred to NOAA and which should remain at NASA; and calls on NOAA to ensure smooth and sustained consolidation of satellite observations. He added that the chapter on enhancing ocean infrastructure and technology was expanded to address non-science technology and infrastructure needs, such as those related to enforcement, management, and education.

He went on to outline changes made to Part 8 of the report on international ocean policy. He stated that the chapter had been modified to recognize and support the role of international regional organizations and initiatives, such as those in the Great Lakes, Arctic, Pacific Islands, and Caribbean regions, in addressing ocean issues on a regional ecosystem basis. He also indicated that the chapter now notes the impacts of international trade agreements on ocean and coastal policies, and suggests that such agreements be consistent with U.S. ocean policy.

He then described changes and additions to Part 9 of the report, which discusses the cost involved in implementing the Commission’s recommendations and a proposal for funding such new efforts. He explained that all discussions of funding are consolidated into Chapter 30, which also includes cost estimates for every recommendation. He stated that the total cost to implement the new ocean policy starts at $1.5 billion in the first year, and rises to $3.9 billion in the out years. He said that the chapter had been modified and expanded to respond to concerns that the Ocean Policy Trust Fund might act as an incentive for additional offshore activities by making clear the Commission’s intent – that the Trust Fund and the sources of its revenue are not designed to either promote or discourage offshore uses authorized under existing or future laws or policies. He added that the process for coordinated offshore activities under a comprehensive management regime – outlined in Chapter 6 – would underpin decisions about permitted activities in federal waters and be independent of the Trust Fund. He noted that Congress will determine the structure of the Fund and its relationship with existing and future laws and authorities. 

Public Comment

After providing information on the public comment procedure, Dr. Kitsos welcomed two public commenters.        

Mr. Richard B. Fredericks – President of the American Salvage Association.

Mr. Fredericks offered comments on the issue of marine salvage and its relationship to vessel safety, environmental protection, and port security. He testified that the American Salvage Association represents a group of fourteen of the leading professional salvage companies that have responded to the overwhelming majority of the most serious marine casualties that have occurred in the United States and Canada over the past two decades. In this time of terrorist concern, he indicated that marine salvage, shipboard firefighting, wreck removal, and harbor clearance are especially important considerations. He stated that marine salvage no longer operates solely on the basis of the value of saved property. Now, he said, the factors affecting this change are the same factors that support the need for a national salvage policy, namely, environmental protection and port security concerns. Also, he noted that there is now an expanded community of responders to emergency events, and that a primary goal of the Association is to contribute to this new, expanded response capability in a coordinated manner. He warned that, without the support of a regulatory framework such as a national salvage policy, the current salvage structure and capability will fail. After offering specific suggestions for modifying two of the recommendations contained in the Preliminary Report (Recommendations 13-16 and 16-13), and proposing three additional recommendations be added to the Final Report, Mr. Fredericks thanked the Commissioners and commended them for their commitment to the oceans, for their efforts to protect the marine environment, and for their consideration of this issue. At the conclusion of his presentation, Mr. Fredericks submitted his written comments to the Commission.

Mr. James Sinclair – ShipREX International, Inc.

Mr. Sinclair stated that the purpose of his testimony was to promote a multiple use model for submerged cultural resources. He explained that, beginning in 2001, a group of like minded individuals and corporations have banded together in a trade organization known as ShipRex International to affect the way that people around the world interact with submerged cultural resources. He expressed that ShipRex believes that the application of admiralty law, the law of salvage, and finds by admiralty courts of competent jurisdiction is the best and most impartial method for administering issues dealing with submerged cultural resources. He stated that ShipREX would seek to have a voice in any legislation and international agreements affecting the rights of parties with an interest in the utilization of the underwater cultural heritage. He indicated that ShipREX seeks to end the negative rhetoric used against the private sector that distorts or misrepresents their endeavors. He also stated that ShipREX promotes cooperation among private and public parties with an interest in underwater cultural heritage and cited recent efforts involving the USS Monitor and the CSS Hunley as good examples of this cooperation. Unfortunately, he indicated that public funds will never be spent on the vast number of anonymous vessels that should be preserved. He urged the Commissioners to promote a multiple use model for submerged cultural resources.

Commissioner Discussion of Proposed Changes to the Preliminary Report

After thanking Mr. Fredericks and Mr. Sinclair for their comments, Admiral Watkins announced that the next step in the meeting would be to approve the Preliminary Report, as amended by the changes outlined by Dr. Kitsos. He stated that he would entertain a motion to approve the draft Final Report. A motion was offered by Commissioner Bill Ruckelshaus and seconded by Commissioner Lillian Borrone. Admiral Watkins then announced that the Preliminary Report, as amended, constituting the draft of the Final Report, was now open for discussion.

Admiral Watkins recognized the chairs of the three working groups so that they could give a brief overview and discussion of the report, including the proposed changes and any other related matter. First, he recognized the chair of the Governance Working Group, Bill Ruckelshaus.

Commissioner Ruckelshaus thanked Admiral Watkins and remarked on the wisdom of organizing into working groups to address all of the issues before the Commission. He added how integrating the work of all the working groups resulted in a strong end result. He commented on the number of helpful comments received from the Governors and the public at large that were incorporated into the draft Final Report  that will be sent to the President and to Congress in the coming weeks.

He went on to describe how the Governance Working Group was tasked with developing recommendations related to governance, including the creation of regional ocean councils. He remarked that state reaction on this topic was intense and largely supportive. However, he also noted that more state involvement was called for and that some states cautioned against creating additional layers of bureaucracy. He replied that the role of states in the creation of regional ocean councils is crucial, and that the report has been changed to clarify this point. He added that the statute that created the Commission charged it with making recommendations for addressing the conflict and fragmentation that exists in the statutory base of agencies that address ocean and coastal issues. He stated that the purpose for creating the National Ocean Council and regional ocean councils is to bring better focus and coordination under existing regimes, and that the National Ocean Council should continue to improve coordination and pursue opportunities for consolidation. He concluded by stating that these recommendations would not be carried out without Presidential leadership and support, and that when this happens, the situation will begin to improve immediately.  

He then asked if any of the other members of the Governance Working Group would like to offer comments. Commissioner Marc Hershman remarked on Chapter 5 of the report, which addresses regional ocean governance. He stressed the importance of taking a regional approach and emphasized that this approach could involve several kinds of activities, whether it be creating regional ocean councils or building on the efforts and capabilities of the number of regional efforts that are already underway. Commissioner Lillian Borrone remarked that the regional chapter in particular was driven by the principles articulated by the Commissioners, including the principles of collaboration, regionalism, and coordination. Commissioner Andy Rosenberg seconded Commissioner Borrone’s remark about the importance of the principles, and also stressed the need to implement the flexible regional approach outlined in the report as soon as possible to make progress. Commissioner Chris Koch commented that the recommendations in the report are thoughtful, practical, and would improve obvious inadequacies in ocean governance. Commissioner Larry Dickerson seconded the comments made by Commissioners Borrone and Koch.   

Admiral Watkins thanked Commissioner Ruckelshaus and the other members of the Governance Working Group for their comments. He then recognized Commissioner Paul Sandifer, chair of the Stewardship Working Group. 

Commissioner Sandifer remarked that changes made to the Preliminary Report are consistent with the goals of the Stewardship Working Group. He stated that the Commission put forth thirteen guiding principles that set the stage for the Commission’s work. Three principles in particular, he remarked, guided the actions of the Stewardship Working Group: ecosystem-based management, science-based decision making, and sustainability. He commented that, although each of the working groups worked on separate issues, it became clear that Stewardship Working Group issues could not be fully discussed without also considering governance, research, and education. He expressed gratitude for the useful and provocative input received from the Governors and the public, and remarked that the draft Final Report is truly ready to be presented to the President and to Congress. He noted that the issue of living marine resources drew the most comments, and although some changes were made in response to these comments, the group feels that the report recommendations are where they need to be to recover and sustain fishery resources. He added that changes were made to improve and broaden the discussion on endangered species, marine mammals, sea turtles, and corals. He remarked that this is the beginning—and not the end—of the real work to be done to implement the Commission’s recommendations. He closed by thanking the Commission staff for all of their hard work.

He then asked if any of the other members of the Stewardship Working Group had additional comments. Commissioner Paul Gaffney expressed that emotions and politics run high in many living marine resource issues and that better science and information will lead to better decision making. He added how much he learned about the many airborne and terrestrial sources of impacts on ocean resources. Commissioner Paul Kelly recounted a time when Commissioner Gaffney defined stewardship as individual behavior and remarked that he considered this a theme of the entire report. He pointed out the need to be flexible in how ecosystem-based management is implemented, focusing in at the local level and using education to motivate individual behavior. Commissioner Frank Muller-Karger stated that he was very impressed with the breadth and depth of the report and pressed for action on the part of all interested parties to urge the Administration and Congress to carry out the recommendations in the report. Commissioner Andy Rosenberg expressed that it was his pleasure to introduce members of the working group to information about issues involving living marine resource management, and noted that historic difficulties surrounding this issue gives even more weight to the significance of governance and management concepts.  

Admiral Watkins thanked Commissioner Sandifer and the other members of the Stewardship Working Group for their comments. He then recognized Commissioner Jim Coleman, chair of the Research, Education, and Marine Operations Working Group. 

Commissioner Coleman acknowledged the Governors, and members of NGOs, industry, academia, the public for their comments on the Preliminary Report, and indicated that their input was used by the working group to revise the report chapters on science, education, and marine commerce. He noted that there were a fair number of substantive changes that strengthened the findings and recommendations in the report, as well as several minor factual and technical changes. He said that he hoped that the President and Congress would take the important messages in the report seriously and implement the recommendations. He mentioned specifically the section in the report on the Integrated Ocean Observing System and the broad support it received from the Governors and other stakeholders. This response, he stated, is indicative of how important this ocean and coastal observing and forecasting tool is to the nation. He remarked on how science and education are the requisite underpinnings for the wise governance and stewardship of our ocean and coastal resources and that they are critical to the formulation of ocean policy and laws, the establishment of an ocean literate society, and the development and implementation of ecosystem-based management. In conclusion, he expressed how the Commission’s report represents a monumental, cohesive, and coordinated blueprint for a national ocean policy for the 21st century.

He then acknowledged Commissioner Ted Beattie and indicated that the other two members of the working group were not able to attend the meeting. Commissioner Beattie stressed how educating the public about ocean and coastal issues is absolutely critical. He noted the present opportunity to convey these issues to the public on both a formal and informal basis. He also pointed out that there were calls from the Governors of Great Lakes states to include more in the report on Great Lakes issues.

Commissioner Coleman then commended Admiral Watkins for his leadership and guidance. Admiral Watkins thanked Commissioners Coleman and Beattie for their comments before offering his remarks as chair of the working group on investment and implementation. He stated that he is impressed with the chapter on funding needs in the report that includes information on how much the Commission has determined it would take to implement the recommendations in the report. He indicated that this information was based on hard data and expert advice and comments. The total cost of implementing the recommendations, he stated, is $1.5 billion dollars in the first year, rising to $3.9 billion dollars in the out-years. He noted that this is a very modest investment in light of the seriousness of the issues and the broad scope of needed actions. To keep things in perspective, he noted, the recent mission to Saturn cost $3.3 billion dollars. He stated that as much attention should be devoted to our own planet. He stressed that there is widespread agreement that the oceans are in trouble and that the President and Congress need to seriously invest in ocean and coastal programs. He indicated that we are in a tough budget climate, but that we must move forward on critical, long-term investments for our country to maintain its leadership role in worldwide ocean issues.   

He then asked if any of the other members of the Investment and Implementation Working Group would like to offer comments. Commissioner Ruckelshaus noted that the Commission had been asked by Congress to make a good faith effort to cost out the recommendations, and that he believes the costs indicated in the report are reasonable, especially considering the seriousness of the problems. Commissioner Sandifer seconded the comments made by Commissioner Ruckelshaus and remarked that the Commissioners had been told to be specific about what the recommendations would cost. He also indicated that the report does not prioritize the recommendations. Commissioner Coleman also commended the chapter on funding needs and reiterated that the value of the nation’s oceans and coasts far outweigh the costs of taking steps to sustain them. He emphasized how everyone should urge Congress to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

Admiral Watkins acknowledged the contributions of the twenty-six members of the Commission’s Science Advisory Panel, indicating that their input in the development of the report was very specific and valuable. He then recognized Commissioner Gaffney, who wished to make a follow-up statement on the testimony of one of the public commenters, Mr. Richard B. Fredericks. Commissioner Gaffney recommended that the Commission take the comments offered by Mr. Fredericks on salvage issues into consideration in the process of making final changes to the report. Admiral Watkins then concluded the discussion of changes recommended by the Commission for the draft Final Report.

Consideration of a Motion to Approve the Draft Final Report   

Admiral Watkins announced that he would entertain a motion to vote on the pending motion to approve the draft Final Report. Commissioner Rosenberg responded by calling for a roll call vote on the motion of Commissioner Ruckelshaus to approve the draft Final Report composed of the Preliminary Report and the changes proposed thereto. Admiral Watkins stated that Commissioner Rosenberg has requested a roll call vote on the pending motion of Commissioner Ruckelshaus. Commissioner Gaffney seconded the motion and Admiral Watkins declared that the motion had been moved and seconded. He then called for a vote on the pending motion to vote to approve the final Draft Report; the motion was approved by a voice vote.

Admiral Watkins then asked Dr. Kitsos to call the roll. Dr. Kitsos started with the chairman and called the names of the rest of the Commissioners alphabetically. All Commissioners present at the meeting responded with an “aye” vote. He explained that the Commissioners not present at the meeting had submitted proxy letters to the chairman giving there “aye” vote to approving the draft Final Report. At the conclusion of the vote, Admiral Watkins stated that there were sixteen “aye” votes and no “nay” votes. He said that the motion was agreed to and that the draft Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy was approved.

Commissioner Sandifer offered a motion to acknowledge the staff on the record for their hard work. Commissioner Rosenberg seconded the motion and it was approved by a voice vote.

Admiral Watkins then asked unanimous consent that the staff be authorized to make all technical, conforming, and other necessary changes to prepare the final document for printing and submission to the President and Congress. With no objections from the Commissioners, he stated that it was so ordered.

Commissioner Kelly asked for unanimous consent that the title of the Final Report be An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. Admiral Watkins thanked Commissioner Kelly for bringing the topic of the title of the Final Report to the Commission’s attention and asked if there was any objection among the Commissioners to the unanimous consent motion offered by Commissioner Kelly. Hearing no objections, Admiral Watkins announced that it was so ordered that the title of the Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy be An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century.

Admiral Watkins then announced the beginning a short signing ceremony, after which all of the Commissioners present at the meeting signed a document representing the draft Final Report.

Closing Remarks

Admiral Watkins began his closing remarks by thanking the members of the Stratton Commission for their seminal report and the members of the Commission’s Science Advisory Panel for their participation in the process. He then recited a quote by Winston Churchill made after a series of Allied victories in North Africa in November of 1949:

         “Now is not the end.

         It is not even the beginning of the end.

         But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”  

Admiral Watkins remarked on how elated and honored he was to be a part of this noble effort and expressed gratitude to his fellow Commissioners for their extraordinary efforts, which were fully bipartisan and not driven by self-interests. He also indicated that he thought the Commission had impressed on members of the environmental community that they were fair and balanced. He indicated that the Final Report would be delivered to the President and Congress after final editing and technical changes had been made and the report was printed. He stated that, in the 90 days after receiving the Final Report, the President was required to consult with state and local governments and other non-federal interests prior to submitting his response. He encouraged everyone to become involved in the process of trying to elicit positive responses to the report and expressed hope that this conversation becomes a lifetime habit. He noted that the effort of the Commission pales in comparison to what needs to happen next. He also noted the recent introduction of a number of ocean policy and research bills in Congress. He said that reform of national ocean policy needs to start this year and accelerate next year and the year after, while it is still possible to reverse distressing declines, seize exciting opportunities, and sustain the oceans and coasts for future generations. By rising to the challenge, he stressed, America can protect the ocean environment, create jobs, increase federal revenues, enhance security, expand trade, and ensure ample supplies of energy, minerals, food, and life-saving drugs. He emphasized that the nation’s ocean and coastal assets are worth hundreds of billions of dollars to society and even more to the Earth and its complex ecosystems. This amount, he stated, indicates not only how important the oceans and coasts are, but also how stressful human activity is on ocean, coastal, and upland areas. He emphasized how ecosystem-based management has been the hallmark of the work of the Commission and that this approach requires major changes in the way we govern. He stressed that the capacity to implement this approach is here today.  

After completing his concluding remarks, Admiral Watkins adjourned the sixteenth public meeting of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.



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