Panel calls for new approach to federal ocean management

By Bridget Macdonald | Medill News Service

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s Ocean Policy Council is calling for a coordinated approach to restoring fragile ocean areas, many of which have been damaged by decades of piecemeal management decisions by the federal government.

According to Larry Crowder, a professor of marine biology at Duke University, dividing ocean management among multiple agencies has taken a heavy toll on marine ecosystems and economies. “There were 20 different federal ocean science agencies trying to enforce 140 different ocean laws.”

Comparing the work of ocean agencies to that of doctors evaluating patients, Crowder said that collaboration is essential. “We need to get all of the ocean specialists in the same room before we can ask: How are we going to treat Long Island Sound?”

The administration’s Ocean Policy Council will unite a variety of interests as it works to finalize recommendations for a new ocean management plan by Dec. 9.

The Ocean Policy Task Force released an interim report on Sept. 10, saying the new approach must take into account “environmental sustainability, human health and well-being, national prosperity, adaptation to climate and other environmental change, social justice, foreign policy, and national and homeland security.”

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