National Oceans Commission gets the go-ahead from US Congress

For the first time in more than 30 years, the US Congress passed legislation on the 25 July establishing a national commission charged with studying and re-evaluating the nation’s laws and policies regarding the oceans and coasts.

The government-funded commission, product of the Oceans Act of 2000, will now be created as soon as the president gives his signature. The commission will bring together ocean and coastal experts, policy makers, environmental groups, and industry representatives to take a comprehensive look at the US’s ocean and coastal policies. Although the federal government has existing programs under numerous agencies to address many of these problems, there is no co-ordinated plan to manage complex, overlapping issues.

“The time has come to make our oceans and their precious resources a national priority. We need to move beyond the issue-by-issue, crisis-management approach that typifies US ocean resource management policy to an integrated, ecosystem-level approach,” said Roger Rufe, President of the Center for Marine Conservation,

a US NGO, which campaigns to protect oceans and marine wildlife.

“Increasing coastal development, overfishing, polluted runoff, and degradation of coral reefs all signal the need for a more co-ordinated strategy to protect and manage our nation’s coastal and marine resources,” Rufe said, advocating the creation of the commission to tackle such issues.

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