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April 20, 2004 Video Summary

U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Releases Preliminary Report for Review by Governors and Public:
Video Summary of the Preliminary Report

This video summarizes the major themes and highlights of the Preliminary Report by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.

To download the video use the links below.

Quicktime 320x240, 33 Mb
Quicktime 240x160, 17.5 Mb
Windows Media 320x240, 31.8 Mb
Windows Media 240x160, 16.8 Mb

Narrative of the Video Summary
of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s Preliminary Report
April 20, 2004
Video Title: An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century

Narrator Speaking:

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the oceans to all life on this planet...or to human beings who are rejuvenated and inspired by their majesty and power...or to the economy of the United States. Thirty five years ago, the last comprehensive review of U.S. ocean policy was conducted. Since then the number of people living in America's coastal areas and the economic significance of those areas, and of oceans, in general, have dramatically increased.

So have the demands on them -- demands whose cost is measured in, among other things, depleted resources, over exploitation of many fish stocks, lost habitat, decreased resiliency of ocean and coastal ecosystems, and pervasive water contamination problems.

When Congress passed the Oceans Act of 2000, it acknowledged both those costs and the significance of the oceans to this country's well being--economic and otherwise. Pursuant to that Act, the President appointed the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy made up of 16 members from diverse backgrounds.

Its Chairman is Retired Navy Admiral James D. Watkins -- former Chief of Naval Operations, former Secretary of Energy, and the founder of the Consortium of Oceanographic Research and Education.

Admiral James D. Watkins, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Speaking:

"Our job was to establish findings and develop recommendations for a new, comprehensive national ocean policy. And we did. They are laid out .in this preliminary report -- a pre-cursor to our final report to be released later this year.

An integral part of our job was receiving testimony -- oral and written -- from hundreds of people across the country. Generally, they didn't come to us, we went to them, to where they lived and worked, to where they knew the situation. And wherever we went, we made site visits so we could not only hear what they had to say, but see what they were talking about.

Fundamentally, the message we heard boiled down to this: the oceans and coasts are in trouble and we need to change the way we manage them.

Perhaps most important, people must grasp the vital role oceans play in their lives and livelihoods and the profound impact they, themselves, have on the oceans and coasts.

What's now obvious is that ocean resources are not limitless. Nor are ocean waters capable of continual self-cleansing. The point is this: it's up to us to find ways to use and enjoy the ocean in a sustainable way. And that, at its core, is what the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's report is all about.

Narrator Speaking:

Collecting information provided the raw material for the Commission's work. Careful thought, deliberation, and the consideration of a wide spectrum of potential solutions led to a vision for the future made up of bold, far reaching recommendations for reform -- reform that must be implemented now while it is still possible to reverse distressing declines, seize exciting opportunities and sustain the oceans and their assets for future generations.

It should be emphasized that the Commission, as mandated by the Oceans Act, balanced environmental, technical, economic, and scientific factors in making its recommendations.

The overarching theme of the Commission's recommendations is ecosystem based management -- managing ocean and coastal resources to reflect the relationships between all ecosystem components, including human and non-human species, and the environments they inhabit.

This approach requires the federal government to align along ecosystem boundaries to better support state, local, and regional ecosystem efforts. These local and regional efforts such as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound require better support from the federal government.

A new national ocean policy framework must be established to improve federal leadership and coordination to enable agencies to address the ocean, land and air as one inter-connected system, and to enhance opportunities for state, territorial, tribal, and local entities to develop common regional goals and priorities, improve responses to regional issues, and increase coordination.

Policies and decisions about ocean and coastal resources need to be based on the most current, credible, unbiased scientific data. Getting such information requires new investment in the infrastructure to support data collection and research and the means to effectively translate scientific findings into useful, timely information for policy managers, educators and the public.

Education about the oceans is also imperative --for today's decision makers to better understand them, for the general public to develop a sense of stewardship for them, and to prepare a new generation of leaders to confront issues dealing with them.

A strong, effective national ocean policy must be underpinned by high quality education reaching every segment of the population.

With a foundation in place defined by improved governance, stronger scientific information, and enhanced education, the Commission went further, identifying many specific challenges and suggesting actions to address them.

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy considers the following actions absolutely critical:

  • Establishment of a National Ocean Council chaired by an Assistant to the President with a Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy;
  • Strengthening the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and improving the federal agency structure;
  • Developing a flexible, voluntary process for creating regional ocean councils, facilitated and supported by the National Ocean Council;
  • Doubling U.S. investment in ocean research;
  • Implementing the national Integrated Ocean Observing System; and
  • Increasing attention to ocean education through coordinated and effective formal and informal programs.

In addition to these broad national goals, there are critical actions that need to be taken with regard to specific ocean and coastal issues.

Economic growth, strong communities and healthy coasts and watersheds must be maintained by strengthening coastal and watershed management and creating more viable links between them.

Existing and emerging uses of federal waters should managed in an integrated way. At the same time, conflicts between different activities must be avoided and the impact of these activities on the environment must be minimized by creating a coordinated offshore management regime.

Water pollution--particularly from non-point sources--has to be reduced. It can be--by establishing measurable water pollution reduction goals, strengthening incentives and technical assistance, and improving coordination between overlapping agencies.

Three decades of over fishing, excessive bycatch, and habitat degradation can be ended by refining the existing fishery management system through greater reliance on science, a more ecosystem-based approach, fine tuning Regional Councils, and exploring the use of dedicated access privileges.

American participation in the international community should be strengthened by acceding to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea--the primary legal framework for addressing global ocean issues.

And, there must be a stable funding stream to support new federal and state responsibilities for oceans and coasts. Such support can come from establishing an Ocean Policy Trust Fund consisting of unallocated outer Continental Shelf oil and gas bonuses and royalties plus revenues from new uses of offshore waters.

Admiral James D. Watkins, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Speaking:

Implementing these recommendations--and others--will contribute significantly to a future in which the promise of America's oceans and coasts is realized. This is a crossroads moment, a moment of historic opportunity to make positive and lasting changes in how we, as a nation, manage our ocean and coastal resources.

We can create an improved ocean policy that balances use with sustainability, is based on sound science and educational excellence, and moves toward an ecosystem-based management approach, with a coordinated system of governance, and active regional, state, and local participation. This will require political will, investment, and the support of the public. But the benefits to this country -- and its citizens -- will far exceed the cost and effort.

Closing visual is URL for Ocean Commission website and the phone number for the office:

For information (202) 418-3442.



Revised May 20, 2004 by Ocean Commission Webmaster
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