U. S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Democrat on the House Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, released the following statement today regarding the release of President Bush's "Ocean Action Plan," based on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's final report.
The independent U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released its formal report in September that examined national ocean and coastal policies and made recommendations on issues including fisheries management, pollution prevention, oceanography and marine transportation. As required by law, last week President Bush released his "Ocean Action Plan," the Administration's plan to implement and respond to the commission's recommendations. The most significant portion of the president's plan calls for the establishment of a cabinet-level committee on ocean policy that will work to coordinate state, federal and tribal actions on ocean and fisheries policy.
"While it seems like the President is leaning in the right direction with his Ocean Action Plan, I am disappointed that it is broadly written and does not contain a specific mandate of long-term conservation of our oceans and marine resources. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy recommended dramatic changes to our system of ocean governance, and we need to have the political will to make necessary reforms.
"It remains to be seen whether the Administration and the Republican Congressional leadership will take the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy seriously and if they are willing to put their money where their mouths are. It's clear that making serious changes in oceans policy will require an infusion of federal funding and we cannot continue to make empty promises when it comes to our oceans and coastlines.
"I am ready to help steer these changes through the Congress and to make sure that the President and Congressional appropriators realize the importance of environmental programs to ocean health. Critical clean water and non-point source pollution programs have received insufficient funding in recent years, and reversing this trend is vital to keeping our oceans healthy.
"I am also glad to see that the President emphasized the Integrated Ocean Observation System, which will provide significant data on oceans, climate, and marine life. Rutgers University's Long-term Ecosystem Observation (LEO) system is a significant player in this program and will continue to be a vital part of ocean observation systems as they develop."