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MRAA Leads MTAs in Opposition to National Oceans Policy

Wednesday, May 9, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matt Gruhn
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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas led a group of 14 national and state marine trades associations in strong opposition to the proposed National Oceans Policy developed by a White House Commission.

In a letter to the Chairman and ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, the group said a national oceans policy should be designed to stimulate job creation and economic growth, in addition to conserving our natural resources and marine habitat of our nation’s valued oceans and coastal regions. Because the newly proposed policy has the potential of doing great harm to marine commerce, recreational and commercial fishing, recreational boating, and waterborne transportation, the letter asked the Appropriations Committee to delay implementation of the newly designed ocean policies of the National Ocean Policy Council.

One of the major problems with the policy is the risk of unintended economic and society consequences due, in part, to the unprecedented geographic scale of the recommendations. Concerns are heightened because the policy has been cited as justification in a federal decision restricting access to certain areas for commercial activity without justification by scientific research or data.

Another problem is uncertainty abounds due to confusion of the policy, especially how it will be implemented and the role of the stakeholders and state governments. Even the policy says it may create a level of uncertainty and anxiety among those groups who rely on these resources.

In addition, the letter says scarce monetary resources should be allocated to existing programs and activities and are necessary for the economy to develop and properly function. During a time of constrained budgets, we are concerned that the federal agencies have been asked to prioritize the National Ocean Policy in the 2013 state budgets and existing resources should be re-purposed to follow the new policy. Instead of spending limited resources on existing programs, the policy is supporting further uncertainty and restrictions to support new government procedures and regulations.

What are the Recommendations of the National Oceans Policy? The implementation strategy of the National Oceans Council identifies nine objectives that our nations will pursue to address the pressing challenges facing the oceans and the Great Lakes.

  1. Adopt ecosystem-based management as a foundation principle to comprehensive management of the oceans and Great Lakes. (MRAA: This objective places habitat restoration and the environment ahead of the economy and jobs.)
  2. Implement comprehensive ecosystem-based coastal marine spatial planning and management. (MRAA: This objective does not consider the importance of businesses on the coasts to local towns and cities.)
  3. Increase knowledge to continually inform and improve policy decisions.
  4. Coordinate and support federal, state, tribal and local management of the oceans. (MRAA: This objective takes away the rights of local and state governments to determine their own priorities and land usage.)
  5. Strengthen resiliency of coastal communities and marine environments and their abilities to adapt to climate change.
  6. Establish integrated ecosystem protection and restoration strategies to meet the goals of the government.
  7. Enhance water quality
  8. Address environmental stewardship in the face of climate-induced and other environmental changes.
  9. Strengthen ocean observing systems, data collection platforms and mapping capabilities.

Read the letter here.