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June 10, 2004 Press Statement

Statement of
Admiral James Watkins, USN (Ret.)
Chairman, U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
on the Release of the Administration's
Organic Act for the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy is pleased that one of its top priorities for this congressional session – an Organic Act for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation’s lead ocean agency – is the focus of legislation developed by the Administration and transmitted to Congress today by U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. Our shared goal is to give NOAA its own unambiguous statutory basis for existing, and the clear mission and goals that will make it a stronger, more effective, science-based and service-oriented ocean agency.

As stated in our Preliminary Report, which was released on April 20, 2004, the Commission believes that a NOAA Organic Act is a critical first step toward streamlining and coordinating NOAA’s many responsibilities and integrating the ecosystem-based approach to governance and management called for by the Commission. A strengthened NOAA is also one of the four key components of the Commission’s Governance Framework.

Reform of national ocean policy needs to start this year, while it is still possible to reverse distressing declines in marine resources, seize exciting opportunities, and sustain the oceans, coasts and their valuable assets for future generations. We can’t wait another five or ten years to make changes or it will be too late. So this proposal by the Administration, as well as legislative initiatives being developed in Congress, adds positive momentum to badly needed changes in the way we govern our precious ocean resources.

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The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released its historic Preliminary Report on April 20, 2004. The report included a comprehensive blueprint for national ocean policy for the 21st century and workable solutions that balance use with sustainability for America’s oceans, Great Lakes and coastal areas. For more information, go to:

Kate Naughten 202/418-3465



Revised July 19, 2004 by Ocean Commission Webmaster
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