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Obama Establishes New National Ocean Council

July 20, 2010

President Barack Obama has issued an executive order establishing a new National Policy for the Stewardship of the Oceans–a move intended to help protect the ecosystems of oceans, seas, and lakes throughout the United States, according to various media reports Monday.

“The ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes provide jobs, food, energy resources, ecological services, recreation, and tourism opportunities, and play critical roles in our Nation’s transportation, economy, and trade, as well as the global mobility of our Armed Forces and the maintenance of international peace and security,” the President wrote in the executive order.

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and resulting environmental crisis is a stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are, and how much communities and the Nation rely on healthy and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems,” he added. “America’s stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes is intrinsically linked to environmental sustainability, human health and well-being, national prosperity, adaptation to climate and other environmental changes, social justice, international diplomacy, and national and homeland security.”

The executive order will set up a National Ocean Council “to guide marine and coastal usage that could result in new restrictions, for example, on where shipping lanes, wind farms or offshore drilling platforms can be located,” according to Ria Megnin of TheCalifornian.com.

The order also calls for steps to be taken to protect, maintain, restore, and improve the resiliency of aquatic ecosystems, adapt to a changing global environment and support sustainability efforts, and more. In order to accomplish these goals, Obama’s executive order calls for the establishment of a “a comprehensive and collaborative framework for the stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes that facilitates cohesive actions across the Federal Government, as well as participation of State, tribal, and local authorities, regional governance structures, nongovernmental organizations, the public, and the private sector,” as well as “accession to the Law of the Sea Convention.”

“Today, possibly more so than at any point in our nation’s history, we appreciate that health oceans matters,” Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the AFP on Monday. “Today, we extend our nation’s proud conservation ethic beyond our shores and into our coasts, oceans and Great Lakes.”

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