President Barack Obama on Monday launched a new National Oceans Policy, designed to promote healthy eco-systems in coastal waters, seas and Great Lakes surrounding the United States.
Obama formalized recommendations of an ocean policy task force in an executive order, as his administration battles the worst environmental disaster in US history spawned by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and resulting environmental crisis is a stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are,” Obama said in the order.
The president also noted America’s stewardship of healthy oceans and Great Lakes along the border with Canada were linked to human health, national prosperity, international diplomacy and national and homeland security.
The order adopted the recommendations of an inter-agency task force on oceans policy, which would oversee expanding US uses of oceans and coastal areas and adopt new planning models.
Specifically, the order directs the government to improve resiliency of ocean and Great Lakes ecosystems and coastal regions and to use the best available science to make decisions about maritime waters.
It directs the establishment of a National Ocean Council to oversee marine planning and to promote long-term conservation and sustainable use of oceans.
The council would be charged with ensuring that overlapping state and government agency policy actions on oceans and the maritime environment are coordinated.
“Today, possibly more so than at any point in our nation’s history, we appreciate that health oceans matters,” said Dr Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Today, we extend our nation’s proud conservation ethic beyond our shores and into our coasts, oceans and Great Lakes.”