September 20, 2004 News Release
U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st
White House Must Respond
Within 90-Day Window
Calling for urgent and decisive action on a new national
ocean policy, the U.S. Commission on
Ocean Policy submitted its Final Report
to President Bush and Congress today.
The report, An
Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, calls for the establishment
of a new national ocean policy that balances use with sustainability,
is based on sound science and educational excellence, and moves
toward an ecosystem-based management approach.
by the Oceans Act of 2000, the President must now submit to Congress
his statement of proposals to implement or
respond to the Commission's
findings and recommendations within 90 days.
"It's no secret that our nation's oceans and coasts
are in serious trouble. It's also clear that as a nation
we must rise to the challenge today to reverse the damage to our oceans
and change the way we manage them before it is too late," said
Admiral James D. Watkins, USN (Ret.), Chairman of the U.S. Commission
on Ocean Policy. "Rising to this challenge will not be easy.
It will require strong leadership from the
President and Congress, great political will,
new fiscal investment, and strong public support. But, in the long
run, all Americans will benefit. "
Final Report contains 212
recommendations, and a consolidated analysis
of the costs involved in implementing the Commission's recommendations. Based
on the Commission's analysis, the total cost to implement a
new ocean policy starts at $1.5 billion the
first year, and rises to $3.9 billion in
the out years. Watkins stressed that the funding levels proposed
by the Commission represented a modest investment to protect what
is arguably one of the nation's greatest economic and natural resources.
"The oceans are among nature's greatest gifts to us," Watkins
told members of Congress as he delivered the Commission's Final
Report. "If Congress and the President follow the Commission's
lead, we can reclaim and renew that gift for ourselves, for our children,
and – if we do the job right – for those whose footprints
will mark the sands of beaches from South Carolina
to Alaska long after ours have washed away."
comprehensive review of U.S. Ocean Policy was conducted 35 years
ago by the Stratton Commission. Since then our nation's
oceans and coasts have changed drastically.
Ocean-related industries such as fisheries,
tourism, and maritime trade directly contribute more than $117 billion
annually to the American economy and support well over two million
activity in coastal watershed counties accounts for nearly 76 million
jobs and over $4.5 trillion annually, fully
one-half of the nation's
gross domestic product. More than 37 million
people, 19 million homes, and countless businesses
have been added to coastal areas.
developments, however, come with costs -- our water quality has been
degraded, our fisheries depleted, our recreational areas despoiled,
our wetlands drained, our own health and security endangered, and
the economic viability of our oceans and coasts compromised. Of the
259 major fish stocks (99 percent of total commercial landings), 20
percent are either overfished or experiencing overfishing. Every year,
more than 28 million gallons of oil from human activities enter North
American waters – over half of that coming from activities on
the land. Over 500 invasive species have become
established in coastal and marine habitats
of North America, including zebra mussels that clog the Great Lakes
and an alien pathogen that has decimated native oyster stocks in the
When Congress passed the Oceans
Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-256), it acknowledged both the costs and
the significance of the oceans and coasts to this country. Pursuant
to the Act, the President appointed 16
members from diverse backgrounds to the Commission. The Commission's
mandate was to establish findings and develop
recommendations for a new and comprehensive
national ocean policy.
The Commission began its work in September 2001, with a series of
nine regional meetings and 18 additional site visits in every coastal
region of the country and the Great Lakes. The Commission held a total
public meetings between 2001 and 2004, heard testimony from 440
experts, including many of the nation's top ocean scientists
and researchers, environmental organizations, industry, citizens and
government officials, and received written comments from countless
others. It was the most comprehensive and thorough review ever conducted
of the nation's oceans and coasts.
After significant thought, careful deliberations, and the consideration
of a wide range of potential solutions, the Commission released its Preliminary
Report on April 20, 2004. The report was then sent to the nation's
Governors and other stakeholders for review.
After receiving and reviewing comments
from 37 governors, five tribal leaders and more than 800 other
interested stakeholders, the Commission made changes to the Preliminary
Report. These changes
were discussed and a draft Final Report was approved at a public
meeting on July
An electronic copy of the pre-publication
version of the Final Report, along with the supplemental
reports, is available on the Commission website.
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Treibitz, (703) 276-2772 ext 11
David Roscow, (703) 276-2772 ext 21
Kate Naughten, (202) 418-3465