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Inaugural Meeting, September 17-18, 2001, Washington, D.C.

Below are the draft minutes from the September 17-18 meeting of the Commission on Ocean Policy. Click here to download the minutes in portable document format. (pdf, 88kb).

First Meeting of the Commission on Ocean Policy
Department of Commerce Auditorium, Washington, DC
September 17 and 18, 2001

Commissioners in Attendance

Dr. Robert D. Ballard
Mr. Ted A. Beattie (teleconference)
Dr. James M. Coleman (teleconference)
Ms. Ann D’Amato (teleconference)
Mr. Lawrence Dickerson (teleconference)
Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, USN
Professor Marc Hershman
Mr. Christopher Koch
Mr. Paul L. Kelly (teleconference)
Dr. Frank Muller-Karger
Mr. Edward B. Rasmuson
Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg
Honorable William D. Ruckelshaus
Dr. Paul A. Sandifer
Honorable James D. Watkins, (Admiral, USN (Ret.))

Commissioners Absent

Mrs. Lillian Borrone – It was announced that Mrs. Borrone had been called back by the Governor of New Jersey to lead certain humanitarian efforts associated with the tragic events that occurred on September 11 in New York.


Welcoming remarks were provided on behalf of the President by the Honorable James Connaughton, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and by the Honorable Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

Taking of Oath

The Commissioners were sworn in by Beverly Holman, a notary public from the Department of State.

Election of Chair

The Commissioners unanimously elected Admiral James D. W tkins to be Chair of the Commission on Ocean Policy. The Chair led a round of introductions by the Commissioners.

Legal and Administrative Briefings

Mr. Dan Ross, counsel for the General Services Administration’s Agency Liaison Division, provided an overview of various ethical considerations and related responsibilities of the Commissioners. Mr. Chuck Howton, counsel for the General Services Administration’s Committee Management Secretariat, provided an overview of the Commission’s open meeting and record keeping responsibilities under those provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act that pertain to this Commission.

Commission Funding

The Chair announced that the briefing material provided to all Commissioners and the public adequately addressed this issue. Further discussion was not considered essential. The Chair noted that $4.5 million had been appropriated; that an additional $1.5 million was anticipated to match the authorized $6.0 million; and that necessary oversight, including monthly financial reports, would be provided by the General Services Administration (GSA). No further discussion ensued.


Administrative Discussions

The Chair led a discussion among the Commissioners on a variety of issues.

Ground Rules

It was suggested and accepted that public comment be allowed at the beginning of meetings or at times during meetings in a way that more closely tracked the issues being discussed.

The Chair suggested that the issue of what makes a quorum be put off until the organizational structure was established. He expressed his commitment to holding open public meetings and that executive sessions would be limited to matters of personnel or other matters permitted by law, such as matters of national security.

Personnel and Space

The Commission had received 73 applications for the Executive Director position and a team of the Commissioners had begun a review. In addition, the Commission would hold several Executive Sessions (as indicated on the agenda) to discuss the candidates. The net result of those sessions was to reach agreement on a group of six candidates that would be interviewed in the first week of October.

The Commission is seeking office space and will fill out its staff after hiring the Executive Director.

The Commissioners discussed the role of the Science Advisory Panel. A list of nominees has been presented to the Commission by the Ocean Studies Board. No action was taken.

Organization and Committee Structure

Admiral Watkins provided a proposed committee structure. It included three proposed committees: Governance; Investment; and Research, Marine and Environmental Operations. The “Turning to the Sea” model was proposed as the working overlay of ocean-related issues for all Committee and Commission work. The original proposal and reference documents are contained in Appendix 1.

During a professionally facilitated session, Commissioners were asked to share either their concurrence with the proposal or issues, points of discussion and alternative structures. That discussion resulted in the following committee structure adopted by the Commission:

  • Four Committees (Research, Education and Marine Operations; Stewardship; Governance; and Investment and Development) - See Appendix 2.
  • The Investment and Development Committee is established but would be activated on a later schedule, migrating members from other Committees.
  • The Committee Chairs would fine-tune and coordinate the scope of each Committee’s work
  • Crosscutting issues and key interfaces would be addressed by all Committees.


Commission/Commissioners Relations and Communications

The Commissioners were encouraged to speak publicly about the work of the Commission. There was agreement that Commissioners should not speak in terms of outcomes, forecasts or results of the Commission’s work at this time. It was agreed that the Commission should keep a record of all appearances made by Commissioners. Outreach to all interested groups was encouraged. Communications with the Congress and Administration should be coordinated with the Chair. A communications plan is being developed and the Chair stated that hiring of public affairs staff would be a priority.

Scheduling and Timing

It was suggested that time should be set aside at the next meeting to further discuss overall goals for the Commission. Presentations by and discussions with offices within the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government, as well as major Washington, D.C. regional entities who are national-level stakeholders in ocean matters addressed in the Ocean Act and Law will be a significant part of the next meeting. Information on the current state of Federal ocean-related programs should be sought from agencies in written form and not duplicated during these presentations.

The Chair provided a proposed schedule for the regional meetings. There was general agreement to hold the six regional meetings as described in the Act, plus a meeting in the Great Lakes area. To the extent practicable, all Commissioners would attempt to participate in these seven major public meetings required by the Oceans Act. The Commissioners would also conduct other meetings in the “seven” regions (with no less than three Commissioners). It was agreed that Commissioners should plan on a minimum of two days for the seven major meetings and, when possible, more time to conduct outreach while visiting any region.

Commissioners will submit calendars to the Chair so that common dates can be identified and participation maximized. Issues relevant to the regions should be highlighted both before and during these meetings and subsequently integrated with other ongoing business of the Commission. Commissioners from regions being visited should provide support and help coordinate relations between their regions and the Commission. There was general agreement that the first statutorily-mandated regional meeting will be held in January in the Southeast in Charleston, South Carolina with other Southeast sites added for smaller Commission meetings.

Additional Speakers Addressing the Commission

During the two-day meeting, the Commissioners were also addressed by the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator, EPA, and the Honorable Donald L. Evans, Secretary of Commerce. Both spoke of the importance of this Commission and looked forward to the Commission’s results.

Start Date for the 18-Month Commission

The Chair informed the Commissioners that he would, on their behalf, inform the appropriate leadership in both House and Senate that, unless they indicated otherwise, it would be the Commission’s assumption that start date for the 18-month effort was 17 September 2001, the day of the first meeting. This approach was accepted and a report target date for reporting out would then be Spring 2003.

Public Statements

Mr. Eli Weissman of the Ocean Conservancy provided views of the ocean conservation community and that community’s willingness to work with the Commission. The Chair suggested that Commissioners try to meet with these groups in October.

Dr. Charles Higginson, Executive Director of the Council on Ocean Law, recommended the Commission meet with various United Nations officials working on global ocean issues. He will provide a copy of an upcoming U.N. Director General’s report on global ocean issues to the Commission.

Mr. Justin Leblanc of the National Fisheries Institute urged the Commission to work with the commercial fishing and seafood industry and offered assistance in conducting outreach to these groups and individuals.

Dr. Bruce Molnia, staff for the House of Representatives Oceans Caucus, invited the Commissioners to meet with the four Co-Chairs of the Caucus and offered to provide information on what the Caucus has accomplished.

Dr. Gerhard Kuska of the Center for the Study of Marine Policy at the University of Delaware submitted comments for the record urging the Commission to include representatives from the social sciences on its science advisory panel, specifically representatives from the fields of political science, public administration, economics, law and others.

At the end of the public comment the meeting was adjourned.



Revised May 03, 2002 by Ocean Commission Webmaster
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