National Ocean Policy Outlines Vision for Marine Planning, Arctic

Tuesday, April 16 2013

The Obama Administration released its final plan for managing the nation’s oceans Tuesday. The National Ocean Policy has been in development for several years, and a draft stirred up controversy because of provisions related to marine spatial planning or ‘ocean zoning,’ as opponents have dubbed it.

The document released Tuesday explicitly states that regions can opt out of marine spatial planning, if they so choose. But that didn’t placate some legislators, including Alaska Representative Don Young. In a press release he called the policy a “red taped monstrosity.”

Anticipating the criticism, the authors of the plan emphasized that the policy doesn’t create any new regulation, or regulatory bodies. It does, however, have a number of suggestions for collaboration between federal agencies, particularly with regards to the Arctic.

That drew praise from environmental groups like Oceana. Vice President Susan Murray wrote in a statement: “With drastic reductions of sea ice allowing access to new places, it is imperative that we have the best scientific information, including local and traditional knowledge, to make informed decisions for conservation and development.”

The plan specifically recommends federal collaboration to improve communications technology, ice forecasting and spill response in the Arctic.

Ken Dawdy on Tuesday, April 30 2013:

I agree with the Obama administration's proposal.

PETER H FLOURNOY on Friday, April 26 2013:

No one doubts there needs to be better coordination between government agencies and their impact on the oceans, however, a top down approach with another federally managed agency doesn't seem the best way to do it. Perhaps enhancing the authority of the eight MSA Councils to include energy and military might make more sense.

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