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Ocean Conservancy: “President Obama Starts a Sea Change for Our Ocean”

President signs an Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy and marine planning framework; takes an historic step for a healthy environment and economy

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, the Obama administration has charted a new course for our ocean. President Obama signed an Executive Order today, which establishes a national ocean policy and creates a framework for protecting our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes through coastal and marine spatial planning. The Executive Order is based on recommendations developed by an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which was created by the Obama administration in June 2009.

"Our country has never had a unified policy to intelligently guide the management and use of our ocean. For generations, a piecemeal, sector-by-sector approach has put our ocean at risk. As the nation watches the BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy continue to devastate wildlife and coastal economies, President Obama has begun to chart a new course," said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy.

The Executive Order establishes a national ocean policy, and empowers local and state governments and stakeholders to work together in coordinating on ocean management through coastal and marine spatial planning.

"As demonstrated by the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, we need a smarter approach to managing activities and assessing tradeoffs in our ocean spaces. Coastal and marine spatial planning will allow for more transparent decisions about how to manage conflicting uses while maintaining and restoring the health of the ocean. Growing demands from traditional ocean users and new industries such as renewable energy, our ocean is getting more crowded and we are taking bigger risks with fragile ecosystems essential for life on our planet," continued Ms. Spruill. "Without proper planning to protect ocean ecosystems, our growing demands could threaten the health of the ocean that supports our economy, regulates our climate, and provides us with much of the air we breathe and food we eat. Coastal and marine spatial planning will provide a framework for conserving our ocean while determining the best way to site sustainable uses."

Responsibility for managing how we protect and use our coasts and ocean has been fragmented among state and federal agencies. The way the United States currently manages its ocean is fundamentally flawed. Designation of areas for specific uses has been handled in a piecemeal fashion. More than 20 federal agencies apply 140 laws in pursuit of their individual mandates, often in isolation from each other. Most planning is neither proactive nor based on shared goals, but rather reactive and driven by single sectors without a comprehensive vision. This action by the Task Force, and further action by President Obama, remedies these challenges by charging leaders to work together for better ocean management.

"We know now more than ever that our coastal economies depend on a healthy ocean. Fishing industries and recreation in the Gulf of Mexico are threatened because of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In fact, data on U.S. ocean industries reveals that more than two million jobs and over $128 billion in Gross Domestic Product come directly from ocean tourism, recreation, and living marine resources each year. Coastal and marine spatial planning is good for the environment and good for our economy. We commend President Obama's leadership and now call on our legislators to support the President's action through meaningful legislation that ensures the durability of this initiative," concluded Ms. Spruill.

Ocean Conservancy is the world's foremost advocate for the oceans. Through science-based advocacy, research, and public education, we inform, inspire and empower people to speak and act for the oceans. Ocean Conservancy is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has offices in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific, including Alaska, with support from more than half a million members and volunteers. www.oceanconservancy.org

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