I am excited to share two wonderful pieces of news that offer great hope for the health of our oceans.
Later today, President Obama is expected to sign an executive order establishing –- for the first time ever -– a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts and Great Lakes that makes protection and restoration of our coasts and oceans the top priority for all federal agencies that manage marine resources.
The executive order will also create a National Ocean Council made up of senior administration officials to implement the new policy.
The announcement reflects more than a decade of talking with –- and listening to –- ocean experts and user groups across the United States, and reviewing thousands of citizen comments (including many submitted by Aquarium members and supporters). It draws on the longstanding recommendations of two separate blue-ribbon panels, including the Pew Oceans Commission on which I served.
The President’s announcement comes just days after a significant ocean protection bill cleared a key committee in the House of Representatives. Among other things, the bill, known as the CLEAR Act, would help safeguard the oceans from catastrophic events like the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster by authorizing substantial reforms of federal offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing programs.
The Aquarium has long supported these approaches, and worked hard to see them through. Last month when I was in Washington, DC for Capitol Hill Ocean Week, I advocated for exactly this kind of thoughtful, far-reaching response to the Gulf oil disaster.
There’s still a lot of work to be done so that our oceans reap the full benefit of these exciting, and promising, developments. We have come a long way –- and with your help and support we’ll get closer to our goal of a future with healthy oceans.
-- Julie Packard, Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium