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November 19, 2001 News Release:
U.S. Ocean Commission Holds Second Meeting -- Hears from Members of Congress, Community Leaders, Agency Representatives

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy started building the foundation for its recommendations on a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy as it met with Members of Congress, national organizations and federal agencies November 13 and 14, 2001 in Washington, D.C. This meeting, the second for the Commission, represented the initial step in a series of dialogues with the public on such wide-ranging issues as management of living and nonliving marine resources, ocean science and technology, and marine law and governance. Established by Congress in the Oceans Act of 2000, the 16-member Commission appointed by President George W. Bush is also charged with reviewing the cumulative effects of federal ocean-related laws and programs. The Commission’s first meeting in September was organizational.

U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC), a long-time proponent of ocean issues and leader in the passage of numerous ocean-related laws, addressed the Commission and highlighted fisheries management, ocean research and public education among the many complex issues facing the Commission as it proceeds with its review. U.S. Representatives Curt Weldon (R-PA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), and Robert Underwood (D-Guam), all heavily involved with ocean issues, also addressed the Commission, noting key topics to be considered and commending the Commission for involving Congress early in its deliberations.

Representatives from federal agencies, trade associations, conservation organizations, the scientific community and coastal states also testified before the Commission, specifying critical issues the Commission should review as it develops its recommendations and formulates its final report.

The Commission did decide to take immediate action on one specific topic: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Commission unanimously agreed to a resolution urging the U.S. to promptly and expeditiously move forward with ratification of the treaty.

The Commission will continue to gather information on ocean issues from a local/regional perspective through a series of nine regional meetings. The Commission agreed to a tentative schedule for these meetings in 2002, starting with Charleston, SC January 14-16. Meetings are also currently scheduled to be held in Tampa Bay in February, New Orleans in March, Los Angeles in April, Honolulu in May; Seattle in June, Boston in July, Anchorage in August, and Chicago in September. Additional Commission business included review of the work of the Commission’s three Working Groups on Governance; Research, Education, and Marine Operations; and Stewardship and the key issues to be addressed by each Working Group.

During the course of its 18-month deliberations, the Commission will examine a broad scope of challenging issues, including stewardship of fisheries and marine life; responsible use of offshore oil, gas and non-living resources; coastal storms and other natural hazards; ocean and coastal pollution; marine transportation; the role of oceans in climate change; oceanographic science and technologies; and international leadership and cooperation in marine affairs. The result of its investigation will be a report to the President and Congress detailing the commission’s findings and recommendations for reducing duplication, improving efficiency, enhancing cooperation, and improving the structure of federal agencies involved in U.S. ocean policy. The Act requires the Commission to “give equal consideration to environmental, technical, feasibility, economic, and scientific factors.” Within 120 days of delivery of the Commission’s report, the Act requires the President to submit to Congress proposals and responses to the Commission’s recommendations.

The last in-depth review of the nation’s ocean laws and policies was conducted in the late 1960s under similar legislation. That review led to the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the passage of major legislation governing fisheries and coastal management.



Revised July 03, 2002 by Ocean Commission Webmaster
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