History was made in the US yesterday when President Obama signed an Executive Order to implement a National Ocean Policy that will provide a planning framework and governance structure to guide uses of the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. The new policy is expected to benefit marine ecosystems and fish, as well as the fishermen who depend on them. The National Ocean Policy emphasises an ecosystem-based management approach to stewardship of US coastal waters, maximising conservation practices and minimising harm to precious marine ecosystems that benefit coastal economies and fishermen.
The Marine Fish Conservation Network in the US has welcomed the move. “The MFCN staff and many of our member groups have worked long and hard for this policy and we are grateful to see such a strong commitment by the President to protecting and enhancing living marine resources,” says Marine Fish Conservation Network executive director Bruce Stedman. “There is still a great deal of work to make sure this plan is realised, but this is an excellent beginning.”
The Executive Order is effective immediately, and MFCN urges the Administration to take the first implementation steps soon, or the health of living marine resources will continue to decline. It is essential to implement a comprehensive plan for ocean uses, and MFCN commends President Obama’s Administration for its commitment to marine spatial planning. With clear, regional plans in place, the Great Lakes, coasts and oceans will be much better prepared for ever increasing multiple uses affecting them. The National Ocean Policy can ensure conflicts are kept to a minimum and that conservation of US waters is a priority, safeguarding marine ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them.