The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative released its 2012 U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card, praising state and regional efforts to implement the National Ocean Policy that is critical to our national security, coastal economies and the health of our ocean resources. While commending solid steps taken by the administration to begin implementation, it highlights that overall, implementation has fallen short of expectations and Congress has not shown leadership on the issue.
At the press conference, which took place during Capitol Hill Oceans Week, the Joint Initiative urged the Senate to take action on the Law of the Sea Convention and called for national leadership to ensure that we can effectively manage the ocean resources that sustain our nation.
“Implementation of the National Ocean Policy is critical to both our national security and to the health of our oceans and our economy,” said Bill Ruckelshaus, co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. “We cannot let partisan politics threaten our ability to adequately manage ocean resources to improve ocean health and support numerous businesses and jobs around the country.”
While the Joint Initiative acknowledges significant efforts in creating the new policy and important initial strides in implementation, it issued a C for national support and leadership on ocean management, an F for failure of the Senate to provide its advice and consent to the president to join the Law of the Sea Convention, and a D- for the lack of federal funding provided to fully implement this critical national policy. In addition to issuing grades in a total of five key categories, the report card makes 15 recommendations to the administration, Congress and the states on how to improve these grades going forward.
“This report card is an important barometer for tracking progress to date on implementing the National Ocean Policy,” said John Podesta, chair of Center for American Progress and Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council member. “When fully implemented, this bipartisan policy will pave the way for investment in sensible development and economic growth and protect some of our most treasured natural resources.”
The Joint Initiative urged Senate leaders to push for the U.S. to join the Law of the Sea Convention. Renowned military and national security experts, diverse business leaders including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, and scientists and environmental advocates support the international treaty. “In this era of hyper-partisanship, ensuring that the U.S. has a leadership role in determining the use and management of international ocean resources should be something everyone agrees on,” said Norman Mineta, co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative.
According to the report card, states and regions lead the way in improving ocean management, receiving an A- grade. Regions highlighted include the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Pacific Northwest. The report card praises states for working in difficult budgetary times to address shared ocean issues, to leverage limited resources and prepare for the ocean economy of the future.
To review all of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative’s recommendations, as well as the full list of grades in each category of ocean policy reform, click here.