This is a guest blog post from Jennifer McCann, Director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Coastal Resources Center and Director of Extension Programs for Rhode Island Sea Grant.
In Rhode Island and beyond, coastal communities are working on plans to manage the ocean’s resources in ways that generate new industries, support job creation, and provide food and services to an ever-increasing population.
This film is the first in a series that explores this effort with ocean practitioners from around the world and provides an overview of economic issues related to ocean planning. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share the remaining three films in the series, which focus on offshore renewable energy, fisheries and the environment.
This is a guest post from Richard Nelson, a lobsterman from Friendship, Maine
With a background as a lobsterman in the small midcoast town of Friendship, ME, I decided a couple of years ago to follow and become involved in those aspects of the National Ocean Policy that affect me as both a fisherman and concerned individual.
The goals of the planning, as set forth by the National Ocean Council, are to find ways to support sustainable ocean uses that contribute to the economy, while at the same time protecting, maintaining and restoring the ocean ecosystems. This would involve creating a regional plan to reduce conflicts among fishing, offshore energy, shipping conservation and recreation.
I am hopeful that this process will involve a group made up of oceanographers, fishermen, conservation groups, tugboat operators and others with either a tradition of, or aspirations toward, ocean use. The input of the federal officials, state planners and agency heads as well as the tribal representatives that are all official members of the regional planning bodies is certainly important, but it is critical that some form of direct participation is extended to those whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, such as me. Given that regional planning has the backing of most of the major conservation groups, the scientific community, ocean renewable energy and other industries, all seeking to start the process off in a somewhat similar direction, now is the perfect time and place to shape the format of the ocean planning process. We need to directly include stakeholders and make sure that they have a real seat at the table, rather than engaging in the old model of top-down management which would, in my mind, lead to a future of second guessing, protestations and eventually an “occupy oceans” mentality.
As we begin this process let us take advantage of the opportunity to start ocean planning off right. This is the point at which you might ask, “Well what do you suggest?”
July 19, 2010: President Obama signs the Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy. Credit: whitehouse.gov
During this week two years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was still dominating the news. And as our staff surveyed the Gulf, inspecting the impacts of gushing oil, it was already becoming clear that systemic problems with how decisions are made in the ocean contributed to this disaster.
So when on July 19th, 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy, it was a bright spot shining through the murky waters. The Ocean Policy and the National Ocean Council it created will use a set of common sense principles to protect important marine habitat, help clean up our nation’s beaches and foster emerging industries and jobs. It’s a way to untangle the web of existing ocean regulations and protect coastal communities and the economy. This policy wouldn’t have stopped the oil disaster, but it could provide a better path forward for a thriving, healthy ocean that also meets our economic needs. Continue reading »