[Senate Hearing 108-946]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 108-946
THE PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE U.S. COMMISSION ON OCEAN POLICY
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
APRIL 22, 2004
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SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South
CONRAD BURNS, Montana Carolina, Ranking
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine Virginia
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
PETER G. FITZGERALD, Illinois BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada RON WYDEN, Oregon
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia BARBARA BOXER, California
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire BILL NELSON, Florida
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
Jeanne Bumpus, Republican Staff Director and General Counsel
Robert W. Chamberlin, Republican Chief Counsel
Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Gregg Elias, Democratic General Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on April 22, 2004................................... 1
Statement of Senator Breaux...................................... 7
Statement of Senator Cantwell.................................... 73
Statement of Senator Hollings.................................... 2
Prepared statement........................................... 2
Statement of Senator Lautenberg.................................. 5
Statement of Senator Lott........................................ 12
Prepared statement........................................... 12
Statement of Senator McCain...................................... 1
Statement of Senator Nelson...................................... 75
Statement of Senator Snowe....................................... 5
Prepared statement........................................... 6
Statement of Senator Stevens..................................... 4
Ehlers, Hon. Vernon, U.S. Representative from Michigan........... 8
Farr, Hon. Sam, U.S. Representative from California.............. 10
Prepared statement........................................... 11
Watkins, James D., Admiral, USN (Ret.), Chairman, U.S. Commission
on Ocean Policy; accompanied by Dr. Robert Ballard,
Commissioner; Marc J. Hershman, Commissioner; Christopher Koch,
Commissioner; Edward B. Rasmuson, Commissioner; Dr. Andrew A.
Rosenberg, Commissioner; and Dr. Paul A. Sandifer, Commissioner 13
Prepared statement........................................... 17
Response to written questions submitted to Admiral James D.
Hon. Ernest F. Hollings...................................... 83
Hon. Trent Lott.............................................. 94
THE PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE U.S. COMMISSION ON OCEAN POLICY
THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2004
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m. in
room SR-253, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. John McCain,
Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN McCAIN,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ARIZONA
The Chairman. Good morning. The Committee meets today to
hear testimony from Admiral Watkins, the Chairman of the U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy concerning the release of its
preliminary report. I might add I had the pleasure of knowing
and serving under Admiral Watkins for many, many years, and I
am forever grateful for his many contributions to this Nation
and its security.
Our oceans comprise approximately 70 percent of the Earth's
surface, and as the Commission's preliminary report states,
they're in crisis. If we're to be good stewards of the Earth,
we have to be--we have to better protect our oceans. Congress
recognized this need in 2000 in past legislation creating the
U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. The Commission is tasked with
making recommendations to the President and Congress for
coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy.
I'm convening this hearing this morning so we can hear how
the process is going and provide feedback to the Commission,
which it can use in drafting its final report. The last
congressionally-authorized commission to review and make
recommendations for a national ocean policy was the Stratton
Commission, which was a watershed event that led to the
creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
in 1970. More than 30 years later, much has changed, and we
again are looking for recommendations for an updated national
According to the preliminary report released earlier this
week, the Commission found that pollution threatens our water
quality, many fishing stocks are in danger of depletion,
competing interests vie for limited resources, and global
climate change is significantly impacting our oceans.
The challenge of correcting this crisis in our oceans is
significant and we appear ill-prepared to address it at this
time. The Commission states in its report that our ocean and
coastal responsibilities are arrayed across numerous Federal
departments and agencies, the states and territories, and
tribal and local levels. In many cases, these efforts are
poorly coordinated and redundant. In other areas there are
serious gaps. We clearly need a national ocean policy and this
preliminary report is the place to start.
I look forward to Admiral Watkins' testimony and that of
the other Commissioners for learning more about the
Commissions's recommendations on how we can more effectively
manage our oceans and coastal waters.
STATEMENT OF HON. ERNEST F. HOLLINGS,
U.S. SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA
Senator Hollings. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll just put my
statement in the record.
The Chairman. Without objection.
Senator Hollings. And just welcome our House members. Thank
[The prepared statement of Senator Hollings follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Ernest F. Hollings,
U.S. Senator from South Carolina
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening today's hearing on the
Preliminary Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. It is only
fitting that we hold this hearing on Earth Day since the oceans
comprise fully seven-tenths of our planet. That's a lot of water--and
more than you would find with a Mars Rover, let me assure you. We ought
to set aside extra-terrestrials--even terrestrial species--and reaffirm
our national priorities by declaring today as ``Ocean Day.''
We really needed to take stock of how well our oceans are doing,
and how well we are doing by our oceans. It has been well over thirty
years since the Stratton Commission recommended a comprehensive ocean
policy for the Nation. The Stratton Commission's report and
recommendations led to the creation of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and passage of major marine
conservation statutes such as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
and Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the
Coastal Zone Management Act. Since then, no other report has generated
as much talk and anticipation in the ocean community as this report.
This is because our oceans and coasts are at a crossroads.
Throughout history, our society has turned to the oceans and coasts
for food, transportation, commerce and recreation. It is no coincidence
that today, over 50 percent of the U.S. population lives in the coastal
zone, and this number is expected to increase to 75 percent by 2025.
Hundreds of millions of Americans spend their vacations along the
coasts each year and more than 13 million jobs stem from trade along
our Nation's marine transportation system. Our oceans are inextricably
linked to our personal and economic well-being.
But increasing pressures threaten our oceans and coasts. Our coral
reefs and wetlands are disappearing or being degraded at an alarming
rate. Increased use has led to increased pollution of our oceans. In
2002, more than 12,000 beach closings and swimming advisories were
issued nationwide due to fecal bacteria or other pollution. Just last
month, over 100 dolphin carcasses were found along Florida's panhandle
beaches and bays. Preliminary test results point to one or more
biotoxins that are associated with red tides. We have also over-used
some of our ocean bounty--twenty-five percent of the Nation's major
fish stocks are over-fished or experiencing over-fishing, causing
millions of dollars in economic losses. While we are making some
progress here at home, the Committee knows that global overfishing--and
bycatch--caused by foreign fleets is posing serious risks to marine
ecosystems worldwide. Other costs are closer to our homes--coastal
storms and El Nino related events pose increasingly serious and costly
risks to human health and coastal property.
Despite our dependence on oceans and coasts, the Nation
surprisingly spends only 3.5 percent of its Federal research budget on
oceans. The oceans are home to 80 percent of all life forms on Earth,
holding incredible promise of new medicines, technologies, and
ecological resources, but 95 percent of the deep ocean remains
Our country needs a new vision for ocean policy and management.
This is why I sponsored the Oceans Act of 2000, along with several of
my distinguished colleagues. The Oceans Act created a Commission of
national experts who we asked to conduct a rigorous assessment of ocean
and coastal issues and offer their recommendations for a coordinated
national ocean policy.
The release of the Ocean Commission's Preliminary Report this week
presents state Governors and others with the opportunity to offer
comments before a final report is issued to Congress and the President.
I urge the Governors of every state to take the report's
recommendations very seriously and offer their comments to the
Commission. Following the release of the Ocean Commission's final
report, the President will have 90 days to submit to Congress his
proposals for implementing or responding to the Commission's
The Preliminary Report includes some important new directions for
our oceans policy. It appropriately places a premium on strengthening
our ocean science and research base, calling for a doubling of the
annual Federal investment in ocean research, for instance. The
Commission's report also highlights the importance of deepening our
understanding of oceans and coasts through investments in ocean
exploration, ocean observing systems, and ocean education.
The Report also reaffirms the importance of coastal zone
management, and the role that states must continue to play in this
regard. It upholds the need to carefully manage our living marine
resources, and notes growing concerns from land and vessel-based
sources of pollution as well as other risks such as invasive species to
our oceans. I am particularly pleased to find that the Commission has
devoted an entire chapter to the need to understand the connection
between our oceans and human health--we need to bring these connections
to the attention of all Americans, whether they live or work by the
sea, or could one day benefit from medicines developed from the immense
diversity of marine life we are still discovering.
I commend the Commission too for recognizing that the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the Nation's premier
civilian ocean agency, and that it needs to be strengthened to lead the
Nation toward a more prosperous and healthy era for our oceans and
coasts. This leadership role was envisioned by the Stratton Commission
but has been marred by underfunded mandates, overlapping jurisdictions,
and lack of coordination between programs and agencies. I hope the
Commission will elaborate today on precisely how its recommendations
will strengthen NOAA as well as address critical gaps in Federal ocean
funding. The recommendations describe numerous investment needs but
provide little detail about the precise funding estimates and sources.
I am encouraged that our Committee and the Commission seem to be
thinking along the same lines on many of these issues. Members of the
Commerce Committee have already acted on a number of important
legislative proposals to address the challenges facing our oceans and
coasts--and I am sure we will see more bills introduced in the coming
Senator Snowe has demonstrated leadership on these issues by
sponsoring S. 1400, the Coastal and Ocean Observing System Act, which
calls for the establishment of a coordinated coastal and ocean
observing system--a bill that recently passed the Senate, and which I
am proud to cosponsor. In addition, the Senate recently passed S. 1218,
the Oceans and Human Health Act, legislation I introduced with Sen.
Stevens, and which is supported by many of my Senate and Committee
colleagues. The Committee also unanimously reported S. 861, the Coastal
and Estuarine Land Protection Act, a bill I introduced with Senator
Gregg and cosponsored by many Committee members. I hope to see that
pass the Senate very soon. I am particularly proud to cosponsor, along
with Senator Inouye, Senator Stevens' National Ocean Exploration Act
(S. 2280), a bill that will strengthen and enlarge NOAA's Ocean
All of these initiatives are supported by the Ocean Commission's
recommendations. I also am pleased that Sen. McCain and I will be
working together on the Commission's recommendation to pass an
``organic'' act to affirm NOAA as the lead ocean agency in the U.S.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome and
publicly thank Admiral Watkins for his leadership on the Commission.
Admiral Watkins, you and the other commissioners have done a great
service for this country. Thank you for your hard work and for engaging
us in a critical dialogue about the future of our oceans and coasts.
This spring, Dr. Bob Ballard, NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration, and
other partners will conduct an exciting expedition to the Titanic on
NOAA Ship RON BROWN. Bob never ceases to capture our imaginations when
he embarks on one exciting voyage of discovery or another. We wish him
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to comment on the
Preliminary Report. I look forward to hearing Admiral Watkins'
The Chairman. Senator Stevens.
STATEMENT OF HON. TED STEVENS,
U.S. SENATOR FROM ALASKA
Senator Stevens. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I do
have a short statement, not too long. But I do thank you for
holding this important hearing. We had originally scheduled a
hearing in the Appropriations Committee because of the broad-
sweeping recommendations for financing the industry report, but
we delayed that so that the Committee of jurisdiction, the
legislative committee, can have a first look at this ocean
This is, as you said, the first time in 35 years that we
have reviewed our Nation's ocean policy, and Senator Hollings
and I have been together during those 35 years and have tried
in the past to have this type of review, but I'm delighted that
we've finally been able to accomplish it, and I think the
Commission under Admiral Watkins' leadership, as you said, has
done extraordinary work in pulling together the documents that
will be before us.
They've had 15 public meetings and 17 site visits around
the country, including meetings held in Anchorage and site
visits in our fishery communities. And I want to give special
thanks to my good friend who's here today, Ed Rasmuson, who has
followed his father's footsteps, who was Chairman of the
International Joint Commission for Fisheries. And now Ed has
spent considerable time and effort on this Commission and I
understand he's not missed a single meeting of this Commission.
This has provided the Commission with an important Alaska
voice on the impacts of ocean and coastal development on our
State. No state has the relationship to the ocean that ours
does, with half the coastline of the United States, and it is
the economic driver for our state's economy. And at the same
time its beauty and wonder has symbolized our pioneering
The Commission has given us a great deal to think about,
with nearly 200 recommendations and over 400 pages of analysis
of our oceans and coastal management framework. I really truly
am encouraged by the recommendations of this Commission on
ocean policy, it has made, at least what we've seen in the
preliminary report, and we look forward to exploring these
concepts with you and others.
I want to point out that this report closely follows the
practices that already exist in the North Pacific, and in the
North Pacific there are no endangered species. There are no
over-fished species in the North Pacific because we have
followed ecosystem concepts, and I'm delighted to see that is
the recommendation, basic recommendation of this Commission.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Stevens.
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK R. LAUTENBERG,
U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY
Senator Lautenberg. Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. Your
action here reflects the urgency of the message contained in
the Ocean Policy Commission report. It should be obvious to
everybody that our oceans and coastal areas are in serious
trouble and that we've got to quickly turn around the
disturbing trends that the Commission has documented. From what
I understand of the report, Admiral Watkins and the other
commissioners have produced a balanced and responsible
assessment of our coasts and oceans and offered smart,
practical recommendations to better protect these resources.
The ocean holds a special meaning to my State of New Jersey
and to me personally as the result of childhood memories of
visits there. So during my years in the Senate, one of my
principal goals has always been to protect our beaches and
oceans, and we've had some successes. My home State of New
Jersey has 127 miles of shoreline. We're proud of each and
But I remember back to the 1980s when medical waste,
sewage, and garbage began washing up on the shore. We were
horrified and we did something about it, and I'm happy to
report that those days have come and gone. Congress passed
bills to stop ocean dumping and other problems, but new,
equally ominous threats have taken their place.
I was very disturbed last May when the journal, Nature,
reported a 90 percent decline in the world's large predatory
ocean fish over the last half-century. The number of times
beaches have been closed for pollution has increased
substantially. Population development pressures are colliding
with the desire of many coastal residents to protect their
beaches. Because of these and other stresses, I'm convinced
that major changes must be made. Unlike land environments,
ocean ecosystems are essentially unseen by the average person
and easier to take for granted. But we do so at our peril.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the testimony of our
witnesses, and again thank you for holding this hearing.
The Chairman. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MAINE
Senator Snowe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this
hearing to consider the preliminary report from the Ocean
Commission. I want to commend Senator Hollings for his
leadership on this issue over the years as well as our House
colleagues who are here. They helped to play a critical role in
the creation of this commission that was charged to view all
facets of our ocean-related policies and activities and to
consolidate them under one comprehensive national policy.
I certainly want to express my gratitude and appreciation
to Admiral Watkins for his exemplary leadership as chair of the
Commission on Ocean Policy and to all the commissioners, some
of whom are here today, for undertaking this responsibility.
They are helping to enhance our knowledge of our oceans and
what steps are essential for this Nation to take in order to
protect this invaluable resource.
What I find to be truly alarming is our lack of knowledge
about our marine environment and our oceans. Even while we
probe the surface of Mars, remarkably 95 percent of the world's
oceans remains unexplored. And as the commission report
indicates, we have had a significant under investment in marine
assets. That is a broad indication of the fact that we have not
made this a great national priority.
I think so many of the recommendations that have been
included in here, Mr. Chairman, will require thorough and
timely consideration by the Congress. Not only have they
provided many constructive ideas, especially creating a
national ocean policy and a national oceans council, but I
think it's a matter of national imperative as well.
The Commission rightly cites the fact that we need to
coordinate all of our Federal oceans-related activities. When
you have 14, 15 disparate agencies, it's very difficult to
create a cohesive, coherent, and coordinated policy among all
those agencies when it comes to sound marine, environmental
policy and management. I applaud the Commission for taking a
proactive, visionary, and far-reaching approach. We must
address all of these issues related to protecting this critical
national asset that, as others have indicated today, creates
jobs and is a great contributor to our economy. Moreover, our
oceans support and provide life-supporting capacities and
production for our marine environment, which is so important to
our fisheries. Considering the very long coastline along the
State of Maine, and the course of fisheries that are dependent
upon it, it is very critical that we look at these issues in a
The Commission has performed a tremendous service to this
country by creating a meaningful approach for ocean policy. Now
it's going to be our responsibility to undertake a review of
that approach and to find ways to implement it sooner rather
Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to include my entire
statement in the record. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Senator Snowe follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Olympia J. Snowe, U.S. Senator from Maine
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans,
Fisheries, and Coast Guard, I am especially pleased to be here today to
discuss the release of the Ocean Commission's preliminary report. For
the first time since the Stratton Commission released its findings 35
years ago, the Senate is receiving an eagerly anticipated
Congressionally-mandated report on the state of our Nation's oceans and
As a nation, we are increasingly aware that our environmental and
economic health are directly linked to the oceans and coasts . . . but
what I find to be truly alarming is the state of our knowledge about
our marine environment. Even while we probe the surface of Mars, we
have to realize that 95 percent of the world's oceans remain
unexplored. We must enhance our collective knowledge of these global
systems, and we must make investing in our oceans a greater national
First of all, I would like to congratulate Admiral Watkins, who has
done an exemplary job chairing the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. I
would also like to express my appreciation to the other Commissioners
who are in attendance today, and thank them all for their hard work.
Almost four years ago, this committee, along with our counterparts
in the House of Representatives, charged the U.S. Commission on Ocean
Policy with an enormous task. The Commissioners and their staff were to
consider all facets of our Nation's interaction with the oceans, and
bring them together under one comprehensive national ocean policy.
The preliminary report contains myriad recommendations, and there
are a few that I would like to highlight. The Commission rightly cites
the need for a better Federal framework to coordinate Federal ocean-
related activities as one of its top priorities. The Commission is also
correct in calling for an Integrated Ocean Observation Network to
provide the Nation with much needed data on some of the most basic
oceanographic and atmospheric measurements. Additionally, the
Commission actually identifies a way in which to pay for its proposed
new programs, so that we can avoid going forward with an unfunded
I certainly concur with the Commission's findings that the Federal
ocean activities need better coordination. The collection of 14
disparate agencies that are currently handling ocean-related issues
cannot possibly manage our Nation's marine resources and commerce in a
sound and cohesive fashion without a formal mechanism for coordinating
I was also gratified to see the Commission's focus on the
establishment of an integrated ocean observation system. I introduced
and the Senate passed by unanimous consent S. 1400, the Ocean and
Coastal Observation Systems Act, which would establish such a system
for the United States. I have long been a supporter of ocean
observation--in particular, the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observation System,
a regional network of data collection buoys that provides real-time
data to researchers, the Coast Guard, mariners, and the public through
its easy to use website. I hope the Commission's report will give the
necessary boost we need for moving toward the critical goal of
implementing a comprehensive, nation-wide ocean observation system.
The implementation of this integrated ocean data collection network
will require a significant investment--according to the Commission, it
will require $652 million a year when it is up and running.
Fortunately, the Commission has recommended a viable means for funding
its proposals, by using revenues from oil and gas leases on the outer
continental shelf, an existing source of Federal funds that can provide
the much needed funding.
I have, in the past, supported the concept of using revenues from
oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf as a funding
mechanism for oceanographic research and management. If we as a country
are serious about moving forward with any of the recommendations of the
Commission, we need to take a hard look at this approach again. We need
to avoid unfunded mandates in anything we do in response to the
Commission's report, yet we must ensure we will have the ability to
actually implement all of the recommendations we act upon.
Managing our oceans properly is a costly endeavor, but we cannot
forget that activities on our oceans contribute hundreds of billions of
dollars to our economy every year, and directly support more than 2
million jobs. The demands we place on our oceans will continue to
multiply, as each year--for many years to come--more than 1.1 million
people are expected to move to coastal areas. As a nation, we must
pause and re-think how we can best position ourselves to continue
maximizing the many goods and services that we reap form the seas,
while ensuring that we do not undercut the oceans' productive and life-
supporting capacities. The oceans are one of our Nation's most valuable
assets, and their health reflects the attitudes and actions of every
American, no matter where they live.
Admiral Watkins, the Commission has performed a tremendous service
to the Nation by providing a blueprint for making meaningful
improvements to U.S. ocean policy. I look forward to receiving the
final report and engaging the oceans subcommittee in studying all its
recommendations in depth. I am committed to establishing an effective,
coordinated National Ocean Policy system--not only is this a good idea,
but it is a national imperative. I intend to see that a sustained and
integrated ocean observing system is part of this approach, along with
other key science and management provisions.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening this hearing. I appreciate
the Commission's efforts and look forward to Admiral Watkins'
The Chairman. Without objection. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN B. BREAUX,
U.S. SENATOR FROM LOUISIANA
Senator Breaux. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'll try
to be very brief. I was one of the original cosponsors with
many of our colleagues of the legislation that created the
Commission, and we're delighted to see the presentation of this
preliminary report. This is something that many of us on this
committee have been looking at for 30 years or more and we
continue to look at it and one day we may get it right, but
we're not there yet.
My own state of Louisiana is not atypical, I guess, of many
of our coastal states in the sense that we are located on the
Gulf of Mexico and have these incredible balance problems and
competing interests, because some would say the ocean should be
only used for recreational fishing, some may argue that it
should only be used for commercial fishing, some would argue
that it should not have any energy development, some would
argue perhaps some different perspective that the entire
coastal area can only be used for recreational enjoyment.
The fact is I think that you have to balance all of those
interests, and they all have a legitimate stake in how the
oceans are managed. Fish production in the ocean is for
recreational use, but it is also for food for the world, and
that's a very difficult thing to balance. We have the largest
amount of energy development in any coastal area probably in
the world off my coast, and we've had to balance that with
recreational and commercial fishing interests, and it has not
been an easy job.
Every year, off Louisiana's coast a dead zone develops that
is approximately 12,000 square miles in size, more than the
size of my good friend, Senator Lautenberg's, entire state.
There's a complete dead zone with no oxygen at all because of
much of the run-off that comes down through the Mississippi
River and is dumped every day into the Gulf of Mexico. These
are huge problems and there are no simple easy answers to them,
but I would hope that ultimately we would agree that everybody
has a legitimate stake in the use of the oceans and everybody
has a responsibility to manage those resources, and I thank you
for your work.
The Chairman. Thank you. As is our practice, we welcome our
colleagues from the House of Representatives, and we thank you
for coming over today and displaying your interest and
commitment on this issue. We always begin with the oldest and
so we'll begin with you, Congressman Ehlers.
STATEMENT OF HON. VERNON EHLERS,
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM MICHIGAN
Mr. Ehlers. The oldest or the hairless?
Mr. Ehlers. Thank you, Chairman McCain and Senator
Hollings. I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you on
this preliminary report from the U.S. Commission on Ocean
Policy. As a member of the House Science Committee and Chairman
of its Environment, Technology, and Standards Subcommittee, I
oversee much of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, better known as NOAA, except for the fisheries
issues, which are left to my colleagues on the Resources
Committee. I also represent the State of Michigan, which has a
deep interest in the Great Lakes and I'm pleased to see this
report includes that. We also have the greatest coastline of
any state in the union except for Alaska, and of course, no one
can compare with Alaska.
I must commend Admiral Watkins and other commissioners for
all their hard work, effort, and tenacity. Their charge was
vast and difficult and they performed it admirably. They have
given Congress and the Administration the foundation by which
we may improve the health and management of our coast, oceans,
and the Great Lakes.
Let me briefly highlight some of the Commission's
recommendations that the Science Committee intends to pursue.
The Commission recommends that Congress pass an organic act for
NOAA. I strongly agree. I believe it is critical for NOAA's
mission to be clearly defined and its internal structure
strengthened so that it can better fulfill its role in
observing, managing, and protecting our Nation's coastal and
My subcommittee staff and I spent many hours working on
this task last year, but delayed introducing the bill until we
had examined the ocean policy report. I look forward to working
with you as well as with my colleagues in the House in a
bipartisan fashion to pass a bill into law this year. This will
not be an easy task, but it is so important to our environment,
our economy, and our children and grandchildren's future that
we must succeed.
I thank the Commission for advocating increased funding for
ocean research, something that many Members of Congress also
support. However, I am concerned that the Commission did not
clearly specify which issues and programs should be our highest
priorities. Given our current budget constraints, I think it
will be extremely difficult to find $4 billion in new money for
the oceans, including doubling the funding for ocean research.
As much as I support that effort, I certainly agree that there
are enough problems and issues that require this much in new
funding. I want to be certain Congress isn't immobilized by
sticker shock that can actually fulfill many of the
recommendations in the report. A priority list would be most
useful in this regard.
Finally, I would like to mention the specific
recommendation that Congress transfer management of some of
NASA's Earth-observing activities to NOAA. This is a
recommendation that the Science Committee will examine closely,
as I imagine this Committee will do too as we oversee both NASA
and NOAA. A major shifting of duties and resources appears
attractive, but would be a complicated undertaking and we
should understand the complete ramifications of such an action.
We also have to make certain, of course, that the money follows
These are but a few of the issues that the Science
Committee will be examining from the Commission's report. Let
me reiterate my sincere appreciation for the hard work of the
Commissioners and their staff. Thank you for the opportunity to
testify. I am enthusiastic and optimistic that we can all work
together to develop a strong national ocean policy that
protects this resource for generations to come. Thank you very
The Chairman. Thank you.
Congressman Farr, welcome.
STATEMENT OF HON. SAM FARR,
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. Farr. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you
Senator Hollings and others for allowing me to stumble before
you to start off this hearing. It's really a pleasure to be
alongside my fellow Oceans Caucus member, Mr. Ehlers, and we
have created in the House an Ocean Caucus. We have four Co-
Chairs, two Republicans, two Democrats, Jim Greenwood, Tom
Allen, Curt Weldon, and myself. The Ocean Caucus represents a
diverse constituency of inland states like Missouri and islands
like American Samoa.
I speak to you today about the urgent need to protect our
oceans. Let me say that it couldn't be more appropriate for you
to hold this hearing today on Earth Day, a day that we reflect,
take stock, and hopefully make some resolutions. With that in
mind, Tuesday's release of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
report makes a milestone for our oceans and how we view them.
As shown in the report, the oceans are in a state of
crisis, a crisis that affects each and every one of us, because
we are all dependent on the oceans. They provide food,
opportunities for both scientific discovery and spiritual
reflection, and of course, jobs. Some of the tremendous
benefits we get from the oceans can't be put into dollar
amounts. We must recognize this. However, some of the ocean's
benefits can be described with dollar signs. The U.S.
Commission's report documents that our oceans and coast add
over $1 trillion to our economy each year. We hope that we can
agree that this huge contribution is a return that we must
Ensuring that this return keeps coming, in other words, we
need to be guided by long-term vision of healthy marine
ecosystems, and that will require a change in course. That
change in course is simply that we must adopt a new stewardship
ethic for our ocean treasures. The stewardship ethic should be
based on long-term vision that protects, maintains, and
restores the health of marine ecosystems.
To implement that new stewardship, we must admit that our
current system of ocean governance, as Senator Snowe pointed
out, consists of 10 departments, 20 Federal agencies, and over
140 ocean-related laws. It is inadequate or has failed and
sometimes has failed miserably.
The message comes across loud and clear in both the Pew
report and the U.S. Commission's report. It is now our turn to
act. We must devise a new national and regional approach, and I
think that Members of the Committee, the biggest struggle for
Congress is going to be figuring out how to do this national
governance structure, and probably even more difficult, how we
have a better coordinated regional management system. It should
be based on ecosystem principles, as Senator Stevens pointed
out. Ecosystem-based management will not be easy, but it
certainly is necessary.
The Ocean Caucus will be providing a strong vision on where
our Nation should set our ocean sights. We are working on what
we call the BOB Bill, the Big Oceans Bill, which takes the
recommendations of all the commissions and others and puts it
into one big bill. At the heart of this bill is a strong
national oceans policy, one that protects, maintains, and
restores our oceans so we won't be making excuses to the next
generations. We are hopeful there will be a movement once our
bill is introduced demonstrating that the protection of our
oceans and resources is a bipartisan issue and can't wait until
after the next election.
So the time for leadership is now. The Senate is showing
that today by convening the first of these hearings. The
bipartisan House Oceans Caucus is showing it by working on
legislation, and I urge the administration to show it by
supporting the efforts of both of these houses.
Thank you for letting me appear today and I'd be glad to
respond to any questions you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Farr follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Sam Farr, U.S. Representative from
Chairman McCain, Senator Hollings, and members of the Committee,
thank you for allowing me, along with my fellow House Oceans Caucus Co-
Chair, James Greenwood, to testify this morning on the absolute
importance of using the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's Report as an
impetus for national action. With over 50 Members in the House Oceans
Caucus, we represent diverse constituencies--from inland states like
Missouri to island territories like American Samoa. This broad appeal
demonstrates the recognition that every American has a stake in the
state of our oceans.
Tuesday's release of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's
comprehensive report marks a milestone for our oceans and for the way
we view them. It has been more than 30 years since we, as a nation,
have evaluated our relationship with the sea. Unfortunately, the state
of our oceans has significantly decreased since our last evaluation. So
much so that today, our oceans are in a state of crisis--a crisis that
affects each and every one of us.
We all depend on our oceans and coasts, from the person who lives
off the water to the person who visits once in a lifetime. The oceans
provide food, jobs, vacation spots, scientific knowledge, and
opportunities for reflection. Despite our inability to measure the many
non-market values associated with our oceans and coasts, we are able to
quantify some of the benefits they provide. For example, over a
trillion dollars is added to our economy each year by ocean and coastal
economies. I trust that we can all agree that this is a huge
contribution; a contribution that must be protected so the returns keep
coming. We can craft our uses of the ocean to ensure that they are
conducted in a sustainable manner, such that the resources will be
there for future generations.
Protection of our oceans will require a change of course.
Unfortunately, all too often we take our oceans for granted: we
underestimate their value and we ignore the negative consequences
human-related activities can have on them. Our oceans represent the
largest public trust resource in the U.S. and cover an area nearly one
and a half times the size of the continental United States. Americans
expect the Government to safeguard this vast resource and I hope that
the Report just released will be the motivation for us to actually
begin to do so.
Simply put, our current ocean and coastal management system,
created over thirty years ago, is archaic and incompatible with new
knowledge about how the oceans and coastal waters function as a whole.
Our policies are fragmented, both institutionally and geographically.
For example, today we find ourselves with over ten Federal departments
involved in the implementation of more than 130 ocean-related statutes.
It is time to re-consider this incoherent and often times incompatible
management situation and bring order to our ocean governance structure.
The U.S. Commission's Report offers some guidance on how to do just
One of the biggest advances in our understanding of oceans to occur
since our last national review of ocean policy is that the natural
world functions as ecosystems, with each species intricately connected
to the other parts that make up the whole. The U.S. Commission's
Report, as well as the independent Pew Oceans Commission Report
released last June, clearly states that we must adopt a new policy
framework that is based on the concept of ``the whole,'' an ecosystem-
based approach rather than one based on political boundaries. This
approach will not be as easy or straight forward as our previous
approaches, but we must dedicate ourselves to making it a reality. Part
of making it a reality is creating a strong regional governance
structure. With a comprehensive national ocean policy explicitly
written to maintain healthy ocean ecosystems, our oceans will be a
bountiful resource in which we can all take pride.
The Report also stresses the importance of instilling a new
ecosystem-based stewardship ethic. Involved in instilling this ethic is
increasing ocean-related education for all Americans at all levels,
from first-graders learning how to read to graduate students
investigating challenging scientific processes. The U.S. Commission
details suggestions on how we can instill a new stewardship ethic by
emphasizing and investing in greater marine science education.
As you know, the Report released earlier this week is, technically,
a Preliminary Report. It is being sent to the Governors for their
comments. This comment period lasts until May 21, 2004. I sincerely
hope that all states will take this opportunity to acknowledge that the
oceans provide value for every American, whether intrinsic worth or
direct economic benefit, and provide the Commission with input before
the comment period ends. Despite historic and geographic patterns
suggesting otherwise, every state has a role to play in the management
of our oceans.
The House Oceans Caucus leadership is drafting legislation--the
BOB, or Big Oceans Bill--that sets our country on the right path--the
path of protecting our oceans. Many of the details are still being
worked out; however, the broad sections of BOB include national
governance, regional governance, science and technology, and education.
We will be introducing our legislation this session. We have high hopes
that our comprehensive bill will receive hearings and be considered
this year, thereby demonstrating the bipartisan nature of the
importance of protecting the health of our oceans for future
It is up to each of us to not let this unprecedented opportunity
pass us by. With the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and The Pew Oceans
Commission Reports in the last year, the Bush Administration has a
prime opportunity to take the steps necessary to instill a new ocean
ethic in our government. Action by this Administration could very well
save our largest public trust. The time for leadership is now. The
Senate is showing its leadership by holding this hearing. I am
dedicated to providing leadership in the House, with the help of my
fellow Oceans Caucus co-chairs, and I hope the President will provide
it in the White House.
The Chairman. We thank you both for coming today and we
appreciate your commitment on this issue. We look forward to
working with you as we seek to implement many of the valuable
recommendations of the Commission that we're about to hear.
Thank you for coming over today. Thank you.
Now we'd like to have Admiral James D. Watkins, Chairman of
the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, who is accompanied by
Commissioners Dr. Robert Ballard, Professor Marc J. Hershman,
Mr. Christopher Koch, Mr. Edward Rasmuson, Mr. Andrew
Rosenberg, and Dr. Paul Sandifer. Would you please come
Senator Lott. Mr. Chairman?
The Chairman. Senator Lott?
STATEMENT OF HON. TRENT LOTT,
U.S. SENATOR FROM MISSISSIPPI
Senator Lott. While they're coming forward, I'd just like
to ask consent that my brief statement be made a part of the
record after the panel makes their presentation.
The Chairman. Without objection. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Senator Lott follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Trent Lott, U.S. Senator from Mississippi
I want to thank Admiral Watkins and all of the Commissioners for
their service on the Oceans Commission. You and your fellow
commissioners have helped focus the attention of our Nation on our
neighboring oceans and our coastal regions.
As a resident of a coastal state, and a coastal city, I have seen
firsthand many of the concerns the Commission raised. The attraction of
coastal living has significantly increased the population of
Mississippi's coastal counties in recent years. The good news is the
economic benefit that has flowed to the people of the coast during that
time. However, this growth requires coastal residents and governments
to have to work harder to ensure that the natural features that
attracted the people to the coast are preserved.
Managing our coastal regions and waters requires the collaboration
of many people and interest groups. This is best handled locally, but
there clearly is a role for the Federal government to play. Management
of offshore fisheries, outer continental shelf resources, national
seashores, and estuarine reserves are some of those areas where the
Federal government has played an active role.
I look forward to working with the Commerce Committee and the
Senate in conducting a detailed review of your report. While I may not
end up agreeing with some of your recommendations, I'm sure that the
Committee will carefully consider all of them.
I also want to praise another member of the Commission, Vice
Admiral Paul Gaffney, for his service on the Commission. Admiral
Gaffney commanded the Navy Meteorological and Oceanographic Command at
Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi coast. He has an in-depth
understanding of the oceans and has been a real asset to this country.
I wish him well in his current endeavor as a university president.
The Chairman. Admiral Watkins, welcome, and welcome to all
of the Members of the Commission. Thank you for being with us
today. Please proceed, Admiral Watkins.
STATEMENT OF ADMIRAL JAMES D. WATKINS, USN (RET.),
CHAIRMAN, U.S. COMMISSION ON OCEAN POLICY;
ACCOMPANIED BY DR. ROBERT BALLARD, COMMISSIONER;
MARC J. HERSHMAN, COMMISSIONER; CHRISTOPHER KOCH,
COMMISSIONER; EDWARD B. RASMUSON, COMMISSIONER;
DR. ANDREW A. ROSENBERG, COMMISSIONER;
AND DR. PAUL A. SANDIFER, COMMISSIONER
Admiral Watkins. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and
Members of the Committee. I'm very pleased to be appearing
before you today to provide a brief overview of the U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy's preliminary report. I ask that my
longer written statement be accepted into the record.
The Chairman. Without objection.
Admiral Watkins. Our preliminary report offers a practical
blueprint for ocean policy in the 21st century. It lays the
groundwork for a coordinated, comprehensive, national ocean
policy, with a logical sequence of actions that can start
immediately. The report includes almost 200 action-oriented
recommendations that present Congress, the President, the
Federal agencies, and Governors with workable solutions for
some of the most pressing problems facing our oceans and
There are a few key messages I'd like to convey today.
First, our oceans and coasts are a national asset that's in
trouble. Second, an opportunity is at hand to reverse these
negative trends. And last, our existing fragmented system for
managing oceans and coasts is not up to the task. We urgently
need better governance, science, and education to achieve
meaningful improvements. My fellow commissioners and I believe
that implementation of the recommendations in our report will
result in bountiful, sustainable oceans that benefit and
inspire Americans for decades to come.
Let me now address the basic question. Why should anyone
care about these issues? Well, to start, oceans and coasts are
major contributors to the United States' economy. Over half of
the U.S. population lives in coastal watershed counties, and
roughly one-half of the Nation's gross domestic product, which
was $4\1/2\ trillion in the year 2000, is generated in these
counties and ocean waters. The figure of $1 trillion comes off
the counties, the coastal counties alone, so we're talking
about half the GDP comes out of these regions, and obviously
that puts great stress on the region.
As one example, recreation and tourism is the largest
sector of the coastal economy and it continues to grow rapidly.
Despite selected achievements over the past three decades,
however, evidence shows continued degradation of marine
ecosystems. For example, about 12,000 beach closures and
swimming advisories are issued annually and non-point sources
of pollution, often generated far from the coast, are major,
largely uncontrolled contributors to coastal contamination.
In our view, it quickly became apparent that the current
management regime is outdated and incompatible with the
developing picture of complex ecosystems. A Byzantine patchwork
of the 15 Federal departments and independent agencies governs
ocean and coastal policy in addition to regional, State, and
local authority. The current system works poorly to address
cumulative impacts and cross-jurisdictional ecosystem-based
issues. There's a lack of coordination, of goals, of programs,
of funding, at all levels.
These problems were not caused by any particular
administration. They're the result of three decades of
piecemeal administrative and legislative decisions. But it's
absolutely vital that we act now to begin addressing them. Our
vision for the future of ocean and coastal management relies on
an ecosystem-based approach and that acknowledges the
complexity of ecosystems and of human needs.
Ecosystem-based management cannot be constrained by
artificial political boundaries such as county or state lines.
Rather, it must consider broad ecosystem regions, including
upstream watersheds, coastal communities, and offshore uses.
This approach to management recognizes the relationships among
all ecosystem components--the land, air, water, humans, and
In order to move in these new directions, fundamental
changes in governance and greatly improved science and
education will be essential. I'd like to spend a few minutes
discussing these changes. Let's talk about governance. Although
it's hardly a catchy, headline-grabbing subject, good
governance is at the heart of any policy change. To begin
improving ocean governance, a new national ocean policy
framework is essential.
That framework will be central to a comprehensive and
coordinated national ocean policy, if in fact we want to carry
one out, and it consists of several components. One, a National
Ocean Council composed of Cabinet Secretaries and heads of
independent agencies with ocean-related responsibilities to
coordinate Federal ocean activities. Two, a President's Council
of Advisors on Ocean Policy composed of representatives from
State, local government, industry, non-governmental
organizations, and others who can provide non-Federal
perspectives on ocean policy. And I might add that this is not
dissimilar from the Presidential Council of Advisers on Science
Third, an assistant to the President to serve as a focal
point for ocean policy in the Executive Office of the
President, chair the National Ocean Council and co-chair the
Presidential Council of Advisers on Ocean Policy. Fourth, a
network of broadly inclusive, voluntarily established, Regional
Ocean Councils to help coordinate programs at the regional
ecosystem level. Next, a coordinated offshore management regime
that encompasses traditional and emerging uses and is flexible
enough to incorporate uses not yet foreseen. And finally, a
strengthened and streamlined Federal agency structure achieved
through a phased approach as outlined in our report.
Talk about science. Improved governance based on ecosystem-
based management principles will provide many benefits, but it
also imposes additional responsibilities on managers. Perhaps
foremost among these new responsibilities is the need to
collect better data, provide good science-based information,
and improve our understanding of ecosystem function. This
improved understanding will allow us to manage marine
environments and resources wisely, conserving precious species
and habitats while exploring beneficial new uses and protecting
Based on our analysis, the ocean research budget could be
doubled to $1.3 billion a year to support essential basic and
applied research. Just a few of the many topics to be explored
should include the links between upstream activities and
coastal water quality, the impacts of ocean and coastal
conditions on human health, the role of oceans in climate, the
status and functioning of marine systems and biodiversity, the
socioeconomic contributions of coastal communities, and the
mysteries awaiting in the vast unknown areas of the ocean.
To do their jobs, managers will also need vastly improved
ocean and coastal monitoring and assessments. Implementation of
the national Integrated Ocean Observing System, including both
coastal and ocean components, will be a key to meeting this
need. It was interesting this morning, Mr. Chairman, to read
David Broder's comment in the Washington Post that dealt with
the current meeting on Earth-observing system in Kyoto--or, I'm
sorry, in Tokyo. And we are feeding a key component, the key
component of that in our Integrated Ocean Observing System,
which is the module to insert into the Earth-observing system,
because it is key to climate change understanding, and so
throughout our report we stress this.
And so our IOOS as we call it, Integrated Ocean Observing
System, is the only program that we're really pushing very hard
by this commission. The rest is policy, but this one we feel is
so connected with policy and so connected with implementation
that it must go forward, must be a national commitment. We must
move out on it.
Education is next. Unfortunately, recent studies show that
a majority of Americans have only a superficial understanding
of the important role of the oceans to our economy and global
ecosystem. Better lifelong education is recommended to promote
public awareness and a sense of stewardship for the ocean. This
awareness will then become the foundation for sustained public
support. The interdisciplinary nature of ocean studies can be
used to convey the basic principles of biology, chemistry,
geology, physics, and the language of mathematics, and in an
We've also recommended that ocean-based curricula be
developed to enhance student performance in areas such as
geography, history, economics, policy, and law. In addition to
educating the future leaders of our Nation, there are limited--
there are a number of specific recommendations outlined in the
report to improve ocean awareness among the American public.
What about the management challenges? So far I've discussed
the four cross-cutting themes of our report: ecosystem-based
management, improved governance, better science for
decisionmaking, and broad public education. But the commission
also addressed a wide range of specific ocean management
challenges. Eventually, solutions to all of these problems
should be integrated within a more ecosystem-based management
approach. The specific management challenges and detailed
recommendations for solving them are outlined in our report.
Let's talk about implementation now of a policy. From the
beginning, one of our priorities was to ensure that our
recommendations for our integrated national ocean policy, one
that could be implemented. In our report we are very specific
about who should take the lead in carrying out every one of our
nearly 200 recommendations. We also put considerable effort
into estimating the costs involved. The commission strived to
avoid creating unfunded mandates. We determined that new
funding for States and Federal agencies will be essential for
them to fulfill their front line ocean and coastal
responsibilities. Our Nation's leaders, including the honorable
members of this committee, should view funding for oceans and
coasts as an investment in America's future.
The estimated new costs of the initiatives outlined in our
report, including direct support to states for the critical
role they play, will ramp up from $1.2 billion in the first
year to $3.2 billion in the third and subsequent years. We
believe this is a modest investment when you consider the
economic, aesthetic, and ecosystem values of the oceans and
To cover these costs, the Commission recommends that
revenue generated from activities in Federal waters should be
considered as an appropriate funding stream. Through creation
of an Ocean Policy Trust Fund, funded primarily out of
unallocated outer continental shelf revenues, monies could be
provided to coastal states and Federal agencies to support
improved ocean and coastal management consistent with a new
national ocean policy. These funds would supplement, not
replace, existing appropriations, as well as supporting new or
Let me close by saying that I think we can all agree on the
goal, achieving bountiful, sustainable oceans that benefit and
inspire all Americans now and in the future. Implementation of
the recommendations in our report will move us toward this
goal, but the time to act is now, and everyone who cares about
the oceans and coasts must play a part.
As a specific call to action for the U.S. Senate, we
believe it's critical for the following actions to occur as
soon as possible. Authorize the establishment in the Executive
Office of the President of a National Ocean Council, a
Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, and an Office
of Ocean Policy. Two, exact an organic act--I'm sorry, enact an
organic act for NOAA. And third, create an Ocean Policy Trust
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of this Committee
for holding this hearing and for the continuing support of the
members of this committee on ocean issues. It is through your
continued leadership that this Nation will be in a position to
realize the full potential of our oceans, and we look forward
to working with you, and I along with all my fellow
commissioners who are here with me today will certainly stand
by and be happy to answer any of your questions.
[The prepared statement of Admiral Watkins follows:]
Prepared Statement of Admiral James D. Watkins, U.S. Navy (Retired),
Chairman, U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am pleased to appear
before you to discuss the Preliminary Report of the U.S. Commission on
Ocean Policy, which was released to the public on Tuesday, April 20. We
believe this report offers a blueprint for a coordinated, comprehensive
national ocean policy for the 21st century. It includes nearly 200
action-oriented recommendations that present workable solutions for a
broad range of ocean- and coastal-related issues.
As you know, the last comprehensive review of U.S. ocean policy
took place more than 35 years ago when the Commission on Marine
Science, Engineering and Resources--known as the Stratton Commission--
issued its report, Our Nation and the Sea. Since then, considerable
progress has been made, but many challenges remain and new issues have
emerged. The value of the oceans to our Nation has only grown in 35
years, and the time to act is now.
The simple fact is that the oceans affect and sustain all life on
Earth. They drive and moderate weather and climate, provide us with
food, oxygen, transportation corridors, recreational opportunities,
energy resources and other natural products, and serve as a national
security buffer. In our travels around the country, we heard and saw
first-hand how communities care about the ocean and coasts, and how
they worry about their future.
The Value of the Oceans and Coasts
America's oceans and coasts provide ecological and aesthetic
benefits with tremendous value to our national economy. In 2000, the
ocean economy contributed more than $117 billion to American prosperity
and supported well over two million jobs. More than $1 trillion, or
one-tenth of the Nation's annual GDP, is generated within the
relatively narrow strip of land immediately adjacent to the coast.
Considering the economies of all coastal watershed counties, that
contribution swells to over $4.5 trillion, fully half of the Nation's
GDP. The contribution to employment is equally impressive, with 16
million jobs in the nearshore zone and 60 million in coastal watershed
The country also remains highly dependent on marine transportation.
More than thirteen million jobs are connected to the trade transported
through the Nation's network of ports and inland waterways. Annually,
the Nation's ports handle more than $700 billion in goods. The cruise
industry and its passengers account for another $11 billion in
Offshore oil and gas operations have expanded into deeper waters
with new and improved technologies. The offshore oil and gas industry's
annual production is valued at $25-$40 billion, and its yearly bonus
bid and royalty payments contribute approximately $5 billion to the
The commercial fishing industry's total annual value exceeds $28
billion, with the recreational saltwater fishing industry valued at
around $20 billion, and the annual U.S. retail trade in ornamental fish
worth another $3 billion. Nationwide, retail expenditures on
recreational boating exceeded $30 billion in 2002.
In the last three decades, more than 37 million people and 19
million homes have been added to coastal areas. Every year, hundreds of
millions of Americans and international visitors flock to the coasts to
enjoy the oceans, spending billions of dollars and directly supporting
more than a million and a half jobs. In fact, tourism and recreation is
one of the fastest-growing business sectors--enriching economies and
supporting jobs in communities virtually everywhere along the coasts of
the continental United States, southeast Alaska, Hawaii, and our island
territories and commonwealths.
These concrete, quantifiable contributions to the national economy
are just one measure of the oceans' value. We also love the oceans for
their beauty and majesty, and for their intrinsic power to relax,
rejuvenate, and inspire. Unfortunately, we are starting to love our
oceans to death.
Trouble in Paradise
Development comes with costs, and we are only now discovering the
full extent of those costs. Pollution, depletion of fish and other
living marine resources, habitat destruction and degradation, and the
introduction of invasive non-native species are just some of the ways
people harm the oceans, with serious consequences for the entire
In 2001, 23 percent of the Nation's estuarine areas were not
suitable for swimming, fishing, or supporting marine species. In 2002,
about 12,000 beach closings and swimming advisories were issued across
the nation, most due to the presence of bacteria associated with fecal
contamination. Marine toxins afflict more than 90,000 people annually
across the globe and are responsible for an estimated 62 percent of all
seafood-related illnesses. Such events are on the rise, costing
millions of dollars a year in decreased tourism revenues and increased
health care costs.
Experts estimate that 25 to 30 percent of the world's major fish
stocks are overexploited, and many U.S. fisheries are experiencing
similar difficulties. Since the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth
Rock, over half of our fresh and saltwater wetlands--more than 110
million acres--have been lost.
Our failure to properly manage the human activities that affect
oceans and coasts is compromising their ecological integrity and
diminishing our ability to fully realize their potential. Congress
recognized this situation when it passed the Oceans Act of 2000 calling
for a Commission on Ocean Policy to establish findings and develop
recommendations for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean
policy. Pursuant to that Act, the President appointed 16 Commission
members, including individuals nominated by the leadership in the
United States Senate and the House of Representatives. These
individuals were drawn from diverse backgrounds with knowledge in ocean
and coastal activities.
Because of the vast scope of topics the Commission was required to
address, it sought input from individuals across the country. The
Commission members traveled around the United States obtaining valuable
information from diverse marine-related interests. They heard testimony
on ocean and coastal issues during nine regional meetings and
experienced regional concerns first-hand during seventeen site visits.
The regional meetings also highlighted relevant success stories and
regional models with potential national applicability.
Four additional public meetings were held in Washington, D.C.,
after completion of the regional meetings, to publicly present and
discuss many of the policy options under consideration for the
Commission's recommendations. In all, the Commission heard from some
445 witnesses, including over 275 invited presentations and an
additional 170 comments from the public, resulting in nearly 1,900
pages of testimony (included as Appendices to the report).
The message we heard was clear: the oceans and coasts are in
trouble and major changes are urgently needed. While new scientific
understanding shows that natural systems are complex and
interconnected, our decisionmaking and management approaches have not
been updated to reflect that complexity and interconnectedness.
Responsibilities remain dispersed among a confusing array of agencies
at the Federal, State, and local levels. Better approaches and tools
are also needed to gather data to understand the complex marine
environment. Perhaps most important, people must understand the role
the oceans have on their lives and livelihoods and the impacts they
themselves have on the oceans.
As the result of significant thought and deliberation and the
consideration of a wide range of potential solutions, the Commission
prepared its preliminary report containing bold and broad-reaching
recommendations for reform--reform that needs to start now, while it is
still possible to reverse distressing declines, seize exciting
opportunities, and sustain the oceans and their valuable assets for
Vision and Strategy for the 21st Century
Any strategy for change must begin with a clear picture of the
desired endpoint. In the desirable future we wish to create, the oceans
and coasts would be clean, safe, and sustainably managed. They would
contribute significantly to the economy, supporting multiple beneficial
uses such as food production, development of energy and mineral
resources, recreation, transportation of goods and people, and the
discovery of novel medicines and other products, while preserving a
high level of biodiversity and a full range of natural habitats. The
coasts would be attractive places to live, work and play, with clean
water and beaches, easy public access, sustainable economies, safe
bustling harbors and ports, adequate roads and services, and special
protection for sensitive habitats. Beach closings, toxic algal blooms,
proliferation of invasive species, and vanishing native species would
be rare. Better land use planning and improved predictions of severe
weather and other natural hazards would save lives and money.
The management of our oceans and coasts would also look different:
it would follow ecosystem boundaries, considering interactions among
all elements of the system, rather than addressing isolated areas or
problems. In the face of scientific uncertainty, managers would balance
competing considerations and proceed with caution. Ocean governance
would be effective, participatory, and well-coordinated among
government agencies, the private sector, and the public.
Managers and politicians would recognize the critical importance of
good data and science, providing strong support for physical,
biological, social, and economic research. The nation would invest in
the tools and technologies needed to conduct this research: ample,
well-equipped surface and underwater research vessels; reliable,
sustained satellites; state-of-the-art computing facilities; and
innovative sensors that withstand harsh ocean conditions. A widespread
network of observing and monitoring stations would provide data for
research, planning, marine operations, timely forecasts, and periodic
assessments. Scientific findings and observations would be translated
into practical information, maps, and products used by decisionmakers
and the public.
Better education would be a cornerstone of ocean policy, with the
United States once again joining the top ranks in math, science, and
technology achievement. An ample, well-trained, and motivated workforce
would be available to study the oceans, set wise policies, apply
technological advances, engineer new solutions, and teach the public
about the value and beauty of the oceans and coasts throughout their
lives. As a result of this lifelong education, people would understand
the links among the land, sea, air, and human activities and would be
better stewards of the Nation's resources.
Finally, the United States would be a leader and full partner
globally, sharing its science, engineering, technology, and policy
expertise, particularly with developing countries, to facilitate the
achievement of sustainable ocean management on a global level.
The Commission believes this vision is practical and attainable. To
achieve it, national ocean policy should be guided by a set of
overarching principles including the following:
Sustainability: Ocean policy should be designed to meet the
needs of the present generation without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Stewardship: The principle of stewardship applies both to the
government and to every citizen. The U.S. government holds
ocean and coastal resources in the public trust--a special
responsibility that necessitates balancing different uses of
those resources for the continued benefit of all Americans.
Just as important, every member of the public should recognize
the value of the oceans and coasts, supporting appropriate
policies and acting responsibly while minimizing negative
Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Connections: Ocean policies should be
based on the recognition that the oceans, land, and atmosphere
are inextricably intertwined and that actions that affect one
Earth system component are likely to affect another.
Ecosystem-based Management: U.S. ocean and coastal resources
should be managed to reflect the relationships among all
ecosystem components, including humans and nonhuman species and
the environments in which they live. Applying this principle
will require defining relevant geographic management areas
based on ecosystem, rather than political, boundaries.
Multiple Use Management: The many potentially beneficial uses
of ocean and coastal resources should be acknowledged and
managed in a way that balances competing uses while preserving
and protecting the overall integrity of the ocean and coastal
Preservation of Marine Biodiversity: Downward trends in marine
biodiversity should be reversed where they exist, with a
desired end of maintaining or recovering natural levels of
biological diversity and ecosystem services.
Best Available Science and Information: Ocean policy decisions
should be based on the best available understanding of the
natural, social, and economic processes that affect ocean and
coastal environments. Decisionmakers should be able to obtain
and understand quality science and information in a way that
facilitates successful management of ocean and coastal
Adaptive Management: Ocean management programs should be
designed to meet clear goals and provide new information to
continually improve the scientific basis for future management.
Periodic reevaluation of the goals and effectiveness of
management measures, and incorporation of new information in
implementing future management, are essential.
Understandable Laws and Clear Decisions: Laws governing uses of
ocean and coastal resources should be clear, coordinated, and
accessible to the Nation's citizens to facilitate compliance.
Policy decisions and the reasoning behind them should also be
clear and available to all interested parties.
Participatory Governance: Governance of ocean uses should
ensure widespread participation by all citizens on issues that
Timeliness: Ocean governance systems should operate with as
much efficiency and predictability as possible.
Accountability: Decisionmakers and members of the public should
be accountable for the actions they take that affect ocean and
International Responsibility: The United States should act
cooperatively with other nations in developing and implementing
international ocean policy, reflecting the deep connections
between U.S. interests and the global ocean.
Ecosystem-based management emerged as an overarching theme of the
Commission's work. To move toward more ecosystem-based approaches,
managers must consider the relationships among all ecosystem
components, including human and nonhuman species and the environments
in which they live. Management areas should be defined based on
ecosystem, rather than political, boundaries. A balanced precautionary
approach should be adopted that weighs the level of scientific
uncertainty and the potential risk of damage before proceeding.
In moving toward an ecosystem-based approach, the U.S. Commission
on Ocean Policy considers the following actions absolutely critical.
First, a new national ocean policy framework must be established to
improve Federal leadership and coordination and enhance opportunities
for State, territorial, tribal, and local entities to improve responses
at the regional level. Second, decisions about ocean and coastal
resources need to be based on the most current, credible, unbiased
scientific data. And third, improved education about the oceans is
needed to give the general public a sense of stewardship and prepare a
new generation of leaders to address ocean issues.
Many different entities at the Federal, regional, State,
territorial, tribal and local levels participate in the management of
the Nation's oceans and coasts. At the Federal level, eleven of the
fifteen existing cabinet-level departments and four independent
agencies play important roles in the development of ocean and coastal
policy. All of these Federal agencies also interact in various ways
with State, territorial, tribal, and local entities.
A lack of communication and coordination among the various agency
programs at the national level, and among Federal, State and local
stakeholders at the regional level, continues to inhibit effective
action. A new National Ocean Policy Framework is needed to provide
high-level attention and coordinated implementation of an integrated
national ocean policy.
National Coordination and Leadership
A first step in enhancing management, and a central part of the new
National Ocean Policy Framework, is improved coordination among the
many Federal programs. A number of attempts have been made to
coordinate on particular topics, such as coral reefs or marine
transportation, or within a broad category, such as ocean science and
technology. Within the Executive Office of the President, three
entities have specific responsibilities relevant to oceans: the Office
of Science and Technology Policy that addresses government-wide science
and technology issues and includes an ocean subcommittee; the Council
on Environmental Quality (CEQ) that oversees broad Federal
environmental efforts and implementation of the National Environmental
Policy Act; and the National Security Council's Policy Coordinating
Committee that addresses international issues and also includes a
subcommittee on international ocean issues.
While all these coordinating bodies are helpful in their designated
areas of interest, they do not constitute a high-level interagency
mechanism able to deal with all of the interconnected ocean and coastal
challenges facing the nation, including not only science and
technology, the environment, and international matters, but the many
other economic, social, and technical issues that affect the ocean.
The value of the ocean to American society also cries out for
greater visibility and leaderships. Only the Executive Office of the
President can transcend traditional conflicts among departments and
agencies, make recommendations for broad Federal agency reorganization,
and provide guidance on funding priorities, making it the appropriate
venue for coordinating an integrated national ocean policy.
National Ocean Council
Congress should establish a National Ocean Council within the
Executive Office of the President to provide high-level level attention
to ocean and coastal issues, develop and guide the implementation of
appropriate national policies, and coordinate the many Federal
departments and agencies with ocean and coastal responsibilities. The
National Ocean Council, or NOC, should be composed of cabinet
secretaries of departments and directors of independent agencies with
relevant ocean-and coastal-related responsibilities and should carry
out a variety of functions including the following:
developing broad principles and national goals for ocean and
making recommendations to the President on national ocean
coordinating and integrating activities of ocean-related
identifying statutory and regulatory redundancies or
omissions and developing strategies to resolve conflicts, fill
gaps, and address new and emerging ocean issues;
developing and supporting partnerships between government
agencies and nongovernmental organizations, the private sector,
academia, and the public.
Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy
A Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, co-chaired by
the Chair of the National Ocean Council and a non-Federal member,
should advise the President on ocean and coastal policy matters and
serve as a formal structure for input from non-Federal individuals and
organizations. It should be composed of a representative selection of
individuals appointed by the President, including governors of coastal
states, other appropriate State, territorial, tribal and local
government representatives, and individuals from the private sector,
research and education communities, nongovernmental organizations,
watershed organizations and other non-Federal bodies with ocean
interests. The members should be knowledgeable about and experienced in
ocean and coastal issues.
Need for Presidential Action--the Assistant to the President
Although Congress should establish the National Ocean Council and
the Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy in law to ensure
their long-term future, the Commission is cognizant of the complex and
often lengthy nature of the legislative process. While awaiting
congressional action, the President should immediately establish these
entities through Executive Order, and should appoint an Assistant to
the President to chair the Council. As chair of the NOC and co-chair of
the Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, the Assistant to
the President should lead the coordination of Federal agency actions
related to oceans and coasts, make recommendations for Federal agency
reorganization as needed to improve ocean and coastal management,
resolve interagency policy disputes, and promote regional approaches.
The Assistant to the President should also advise OMB and the agencies
on appropriate funding levels for important ocean- and coastal-related
activities, and prepare a biennial report as mandated by section 5 of
the Oceans Act of 2000.
Office of Ocean Policy
Because the National Ocean Council will be responsible for planning
and coordination rather than operational duties, the support of a small
staff and committees will be required to carry out its functions. An
Office of Ocean Policy should support the Assistant to the President,
the National Ocean Council, and the Presidential Council of Advisors on
Ocean Policy. The Office of Ocean Policy should be composed of a small
staff that reports to the Assistant to the President, managed by an
executive director responsible for day-to-day activities. Strong links
should be maintained among the National Ocean Council, its committees
and staff, other parts of the Executive Office of the President, and
ocean-related advisory councils and commissions.
Committee on Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and Operations
A committee under the National Ocean Council will be needed to
assume the functions of the current National Ocean Research Leadership
Council (NORLC), a congressionally-established government coordination
and leadership organization for oceanographic research programs on the
national level. By placing the NORLC under the NOC and broadening its
responsibilities to include operational programs and educational
activities in addition to research, it will become more visible and
more effective. In recognition of its broader mandate, the NORLC should
be redesignated as the Committee on Ocean Science, Education,
Technology, and Operations (COSETO). Strong connections between the
Office of Science and Technology Policy and the NOC (through COSETO)
will be essential. To eliminate overlapping functions, the National
Science and Technology Council's Joint Subcommittee on Oceans, should
be subsumed into COSETO.
Committee on Ocean Resource Management
The National Ocean Council will need a second committee, to
coordinate Federal resource management policy, including the many
existing, single-issue coordination efforts such as the Coral Reef Task
Force, the Interagency Committee on the Marine Transportation System,
the National Dredging Team, Coastal America, and many others. The NOC
Committee on Ocean Resource Management (CORM) would perform high-level,
cross-cutting oversight of these issue-specific efforts to ensure
consideration of cumulative impacts, minimize conflicting mandates, and
implement an ecosystem-based management approach. Because of the
Council on Environmental Quality's role in environmental issues, this
office should also maintain strong connections with the National Ocean
Council and its CORM.
A Regional Approach
In addition to improved coordination at the national level, an
important component of the new National Ocean Policy Framework is the
promotion of regional approaches that allow decisionmakers to address
issues across jurisdictional lines. The nation's ocean and coastal
resources are affected by human activities that span cities, counties,
States, and sometimes nations. Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and
local governments need the ability to respond to ocean and coastal
issues in a coordinated fashion within regions defined by the
boundaries of ecosystems rather than somewhat arbitrary government
jurisdictions. The voluntary establishment of regional ocean councils,
improved coordination of Federal agency efforts at the regional level,
and dissemination of regionally significant research and information
would enhance regional coordination and improve responses to regional
Creating Regional Ocean Councils
There are many examples where concern for the health of a
particular ecosystem (such as the Chesapeake Bay, Pacific Northwest,
Gulf of Mexico, or Mississippi River Basin) has motivated a wide range
of participants to create new structures for addressing regional
concerns. There is a growing awareness that existing regional
approaches can be strengthened and similar approaches can benefit the
health and productivity of all the Nation's ocean and coastal regions.
Regional ocean councils can serve as mechanisms for a wide range of
participants to join forces to address issues of regional concern,
realize regional opportunities, identify regional goals, and promote a
sense of stewardship for a specific area among all levels of
government, private interests, and the public. It will be up to the
participants--including representatives from all levels of government,
the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and academia--to
determine how the council will operate in each region. Possible council
functions might include:
designating ad hoc subcommittees to examine specific issues
of regional concern;
mediating and resolving disputes among different interests
in the region;
monitoring and evaluating the state of the region and the
effectiveness of management efforts;
building public awareness about regional ocean and coastal
facilitating government approvals or permitting processes
that involve several Federal, State, and local government
agencies within the region; and
helping to link activities located in upstream, coastal, and
offshore areas within an ecosystem-based management context.
Regional ocean councils should be created by interested parties at
the State and local level, rather than mandated by the Federal
Government. However, to stimulate the process, the National Ocean
Council should develop flexible guidelines for the voluntary creation
of regional ocean councils. Initial efforts should be encouraged in
regions where readiness and support for a regional approach is already
strong. The first councils can then serve as pilot projects, allowing
those involved to learn what works in the region, building support to
implement a regional ocean council, and paving the way for councils in
other regions. Once established, regional ocean councils will most
likely evolve, as participants identify the structure and functions
that best suit their needs. Whether a council has decisionmaking
authority will be up to the regional participants. National involvement
may be necessary to implement more formal decisionmaking mechanisms
such as legislation, interagency agreements, and interstate compacts.
Regional ocean councils should encompass an area from the inland
extent of coastal watersheds to the offshore boundary of the Nation's
EEZ. The boundaries of the Regional Fishery Management Councils (RFMCs)
may be considered as a starting point, although these regions may not
always be suitable. For example, more than one regional ocean council
will probably be necessary within California where there is only one
RFMC. A regional ocean council for the Great Lakes region is also
Improving Regional Coordination of Federal Agencies
While the process of planning, establishing, and testing regional
ocean councils is underway, Federal agencies should be directed to
immediately improve their own regional coordination and provide
stronger institutional, technical, and financial support for regional
issues. Currently, the actions of Federal agencies often overlap,
conflict, or are inconsistent with one another at the regional and
State levels. Although several Federal agencies already divide their
operations into regions, the boundaries of these regions differ from
one agency to the next, the functions of regional offices vary widely,
and it is common for the regional office of one agency to operate in
isolation from the regional offices of other agencies. Improved
regional coordination should be a first step, followed in time by
Federal reorganization around common regional boundaries.
Enhancing Regional Research and Information
Decisionmakers at all levels need the best available science,
information, tools, and technology on which to base ocean and coastal
management decisions. However, research and data collection targeted at
regional concerns is severely limited. Furthermore, the data that do
exist are rarely translated into products that are useful to managers.
Regional ocean information programs should be established to set
priorities for research, data collection, information products, and
outreach activities in support of improved regional management. Where
and when they are established, regional ocean councils will be the
logical bodies to administer these programs.
Improved Governance of Offshore Waters
Converging economic, technological, legal, and demographic factors
make Federal waters an increasingly attractive place for enterprises
seeking to tap the ocean's resources. The challenge for policymakers
will be to realize the ocean's potential while minimizing conflicts
among users, safeguarding human and marine health, and fulfilling the
Federal Government's obligation to manage public resources for the
maximum long-term benefit of the entire nation. While institutional
frameworks exist for managing some ocean uses, increasingly
unacceptable gaps remain.
The array of agencies involved, and their frequent lack of
coordination, can create roadblocks to public participation, discourage
private investment, cause harmful delays, and generate unnecessary
costs. This is particularly true for new ocean uses that are subject to
scattered or ill defined Federal agency authorities and an uncertain
decisionmaking process. Without an understandable, streamlined, and
broadly accepted method for reviewing proposed activities, ad hoc
management approaches will continue, perpetuating uncertainty and
raising questions about the comprehensiveness and legitimacy of
To start, each existing or foreseeable activity in Federal waters
should be overseen by one lead Federal agency, designated by Congress
to coordinate among all the agencies with applicable authorities while
ensuring full consideration of the public interest. Pending such
designations, the NOC should assign agencies to coordinate research,
assessment, and monitoring of new offshore activities.
But better management of individual activities is only a first
step. To move toward an ecosystem-based management approach, the
Federal Government should develop a broad understanding of offshore
areas and their resources, prioritize all potential uses, and ensure
that activities within a given area are compatible. As the pressure for
offshore uses grows, and before serious conflicts arise, coordination
should be improved among the management programs for different offshore
activities. The National Ocean Council should review each single-
purpose program that regulates some offshore activity with the goal of
determining how all such programs may be better coordinated.
Ultimately, the Nation needs a coordinated offshore management
regime that encompasses traditional and emerging uses, and is flexible
enough to incorporate uses not yet foreseen. The new regime will need
to make decisions and resolve disputes through an open process accepted
by all parties. Congress, working with the NOC and regional ocean
councils, should establish such an offshore management regime and
establish principles for offshore use, including the need to:
integrate single-purpose programs within the broader
create a planning process for new and emerging activities;
ensure a reasonable return to the public in exchange for
allowing private interests to profit from public resources.
Establishing a coordinated offshore management regime will take
time, and it will not be easy. No regime for governing ocean activities
will eliminate all conflicts, given the complexity of the problems and
the diverse perspectives of competing interests. However, the National
Ocean Council, Presidential Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy,
regional ocean councils, and other components of the National Ocean
Policy Framework provide a promising basis for more coordinated,
participatory management of ocean activities.
Marine Protected Areas
In contemplating the coordinated, ecosystem-based management of
both nearshore and offshore areas, marine protected areas can be a
valuable tool. Marine protected areas can be created for many different
reasons, including conserving living marine resources and habitat,
protecting endangered or threatened species, maintaining biological
diversity, and preserving historically or culturally important
submerged archeological resources. These areas have also been
recognized for their scientific, recreational, and educational values.
The creation of new MPAs can be a controversial process: supported
by those who see their benefits, while vigorously opposed by others who
dislike the limitations MPAs impose on ocean uses. Thus, it is
important to engage local and regional stakeholders in the design and
implementation of marine protected areas to build support and ensure
compliance with any restrictions. Because marine protected areas also
have national implications, such as possible impacts on freedom of
navigation, Federal involvement and oversight will still be needed.
With its multiple use, ecosystem-based perspective, the National
Ocean Council should oversee the development of a flexible process--
which is adaptive and based on best available science--to design and
implement marine protected areas. Regional ocean councils, or other
appropriate entities, can provide a forum for applying the process
developed by the NOC, with broad stakeholder participation.
Strengthening and Streamlining the Federal Agency Structure
Although improved coordination is a vital aspect of the new
National Ocean Policy Framework, changes to the Federal agency
structure itself will also be needed. The proliferation of Federal
agencies with some element of responsibility for ocean and coastal
activities immediately suggests that some consolidation is possible.
Combining similar ocean and coastal functions and programs could
improve government performance, reduce unnecessary overlaps, facilitate
local, State, and regional interactions with the Federal Government,
and begin to move the Nation toward a more ecosystem-based management
However, the complex Legislative and Executive Branch process for
making such changes compels a cautious, methodical, multi-phased
approach for improving the Federal structure.
Strengthening NOAA--Phase I
NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's
environment and to conserve and manage ocean and coastal resources to
meet the Nation's economic, social, and environmental needs. Since its
creation, NOAA has made significant strides in many areas, despite
programmatic and functional overlaps and frequent disagreements and
disconnects among its five line offices. Although the organization has
evolved over time, including the recent creation of a sixth line office
to improve integration on specific issues, these changes take time and
results can be hard to quantify.
There is widespread agreement that NOAA needs to manage its current
activities more effectively. Moreover, if the recommendations in the
Commission's preliminary report are implemented, NOAA will be required
to handle a number of new responsibilities. A stronger, more effective,
science-based and service-oriented ocean agency--one that contributes
to better management of oceans and coasts through an ecosystem-based
NOAA's three primary functions can be summarized as follows:
(1) Assessment, prediction, and operations for ocean, coastal,
and atmospheric environments, including mapping and charting,
satellite-based and in situ data collection, implementation of
the Integrated Ocean Observing System, data information
systems, and weather services and products.
(2) Marine resource and area management, including fisheries,
ocean and coastal areas, vulnerable species and habitats, and
protection from pollution and invasive species.
(3) Scientific research and education, including a focus on
applied research, the availability of scientifically valid
data, and promotion of educational activities.
One of the critical objectives for a strengthened NOAA is improved
performance within these categories and smoother interactions among
them. For example, resource management decisions should be based on the
best available science, research itself should be planned to support
the agency's management missions, and research in different areas--sea,
land, and air--should be connected and coordinated. Changes of this
nature will likely require adjustments to the internal operation of the
agency, including possible additional changes to the current line
These changes can be promoted by codifying the establishment and
functions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
through passage of an organic act for the agency. The act should ensure
that NOAA's structure is consistent with the principles of ecosystem-
based management and with its primary functions: assessment,
prediction, and operations; management; and research and education.
NOAA will require budget support commensurate with its important,
varied, and growing responsibilities.
Reviewing NOAA's Budget
NOAA's placement within the Department of Commerce has an unusual
history and continues to be questioned by many observers. If nothing
else, this affiliation has distinct budgetary implications. As part of
DOC, NOAA's budget is reviewed within the Office of Management and
Budget's General Government Programs, along with other DOC programs
with fundamentally different characteristics and missions. NOAA's OMB
review also fails to consider its ocean and atmospheric programs in
context with other Federal resource management and science programs. To
support the move toward a more ecosystem-based management approach,
NOAA's budget should be reviewed within OMB's Natural Resources
Programs, along with the budgets of more similar departments and
Consolidating Ocean and Coastal Programs--Phase II
As I have said, many agencies across the Federal Government--in
addition to NOAA--administer ocean- and coastal-related programs.
Although I have focused on NOAA as the primary ocean agency, the other
agencies should also be strengthened in similar ways.
However, even solid performance within each agency will not
eliminate the many similar or overlapping activities. In some cases,
programmatic overlap can provide useful checks and balances as agencies
bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. In other
cases, the number of separate agencies addressing a similar issue is
not helpful. Such fragmentation diffuses responsibility, introduces
unnecessary overlap, raises administrative costs, inhibits
communication, and interferes with the development of a comprehensive
management regime that addresses issues within an ecosystem-based
The Commission's preliminary report presents specific
recommendations on program consolidation in areas such as nonpoint
source pollution, area-based ocean and coastal resource management,
vessel pollution, invasive species, marine mammals, aquaculture, and
satellite-based Earth observing. Using these recommendations as a
starting point, the Assistant to the President, with advice from the
National Ocean Council and the Presidential Council of Advisors on
Ocean Policy, should review Federal ocean, coastal and atmospheric
programs, and recommend further opportunities for consolidation.
Programs not suitable for consolidation--such as security-related
programs that cannot be transferred without harm to the overall
enterprise--should continue to be coordinated through the National
Ocean Council and the regional ocean councils. However, in most cases,
judicious consolidation of ocean- and coastal-related functions will
improve policy integration and program effectiveness.
Presidential Reorganization Authority
The recommended program consolidation will not be easy within the
current legislative process. The creation and reorganization of
agencies is often contentious, lengthy, and uncertain, involving
multiple committees in both houses of Congress. Recognizing this
shortcoming, Congress has several times in the past chosen to give the
President limited reorganization authority. Renewing this authority by
allowing the President to propose agency reorganization, with an
expedited and limited congressional review and approval process, would
provide an excellent mechanism to achieve reorganization of Federal
ocean- and coastal-related agencies in a timely fashion.
Managing all Natural Resources in an Ecosystem-based Management
Strengthening the performance of ocean, coastal, and atmospheric
programs through coordination and consolidation are important steps in
moving toward an ecosystem-based management approach. By immediately
establishing the National Ocean Council and strengthening NOAA,
followed by the consolidation of suitable ocean and coastal programs
and functions, the Nation will be poised to take a further step in
strengthening the Federal Government structure.
Based on a growing understanding of ecosystems, including
recognition of the inextricable links among the sea, land, air, and all
living things, a more fundamental reorganization of Federal resource
agencies will eventually be needed. Consolidation of all natural
resource functions, including those involving oceans and coasts, would
enable the Federal Government to move toward true ecosystem-based
management. This could be implemented through the establishment of a
Department of Natural Resources or some other structural unification
that brings together all of the Nation's natural resource programs.
Science-Based Decision: Advancing Our Understanding of the Oceans
Ecosystem-based management provides many potential benefits, but
also imposes new responsibilities on managers. The need to collect good
information and to improve understanding is perhaps foremost among
these new responsibilities. Despite considerable progress over the last
century, the oceans remain one of the least explored and most poorly
understood environments on the planet.
Greater knowledge can enable policymakers and managers to make
wise, science-based decisions at the national, regional, State, and
local levels. However, existing research and monitoring programs, which
tend to be agency-specific and single issue oriented, will need to be
reorganized to support ecosystem-based management. The current mismatch
between the size and complexity of marine ecosystems and the fragmented
research and monitoring programs for coastal and ocean ecosystems must
The nation also lacks effective mechanisms for incorporating
scientific information into decisionmaking in a timely manner. As
knowledge improves, it must be translated into useful terms and
actively incorporated into policy through an adaptive process. To make
the translation effective, local, State, regional, and national
managers need avenues to communicate their information needs and
priorities to the research community.
In addition to these practical needs, ocean science and technology
will continue to be an integral part of the overall U.S. basic research
enterprise and future discoveries will undoubtedly contribute greatly
to society. Fundamental knowledge about the oceans is essential to
understanding the Earth's environment and how it changes over time,
assessing and predicting the status of marine resources, finding
beneficial new uses of ocean resources, and protecting national
Federal Leadership in Ocean Science and Technology
Our Commission defines ocean science and technology broadly to
include: exploration of new ocean environments; basic and applied
research to increase understanding of the biology, chemistry, physics,
and geology of the oceans and coasts, their interactions with
terrestrial, hydrologic, and atmospheric systems, and the interactions
between ocean and coastal regions and humans; and the development of
new methodologies and instruments.
Today, 15 Federal agencies support or conduct diverse activities in
ocean science, technology, assessment, and management. The heads of
these agencies direct the National Oceanographic Partnership Program
(NOPP), which coordinates national oceanographic research and
education. NOPP has provided a useful venue for agencies to support a
small number of ocean science and technology projects, but it has not
realized its full potential as an overarching mechanism for
coordination among Federal agencies and State, local, academic, and
Under the proposed National Ocean Policy Framework, the National
Ocean Council's Committee on Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and
Operations (COSETO) will assume leadership of NOPP to implement a broad
national strategy for ocean research, education, observation,
exploration, and marine operations. NOPP's existing offices and
committees will be incorporated within this structure. Ocean.US, the
lead office for planning the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS),
and the Federal Oceanographic Facilities Committee which provides
advice on oceanographic facilities, will both report to COSETO.
Creating a National Strategy for Ocean Science and Technology
The United States needs a national strategy for ocean and coastal
research, exploration, and marine operations that can help meet the
ocean resource management challenges of the 21st century and ensure
that useful products result from Federal investments in ocean research.
Much more needs to be known about how marine ecosystems function on
varying spatial scales, how human activities affect marine ecosystems
and how, in turn, these changes affect human health. Coordinated and
enhanced research activities and marine operations are needed to:
understand biological, physical, and chemical processes and
maintain overall ecosystem health and biological diversity
observe, monitor, assess, and predict environmental events
and long-term trends
explore the ocean depths for new resources
map ocean and coastal areas for safe navigation and resource
Furthermore, the ocean and coastal environment is rife with
conflicts among competing users and between groups of people applying
different sets of values to the same issues. To resolve these
conflicts, information is needed not only about the natural environment
but also about relevant social, cultural, and economic factors.
Better coordination and increased support of ocean science and
technology activities nationwide will help the United States to address
numerous management challenges, and will position the Nation to quickly
tackle new issues as they emerge.
Advancing Ocean and Coastal Research
The United States has a wealth of ocean research expertise spread
across a network of government and industry laboratories and world-
class universities, colleges, and marine centers. With strong Federal
support, these institutions made the United States the world leader in
oceanography during the 20th century. However, a leader cannot stand
still. Ocean and coastal management issues continue to grow in number
and complexity, new fields of study have emerged, new interdisciplinary
approaches are being tried, and there is a growing need to understand
the ocean on a global and regional scale. All this has created a
corresponding demand for high-quality scientific information. And while
the need for increased information continues to grow, the Federal
investment in ocean research has stagnated in recent decades.
The current annual Federal investment in marine science is well
below the level necessary to address adequately the Nation's needs for
coastal and ocean information. Unless funding increases sharply, the
gap between requirements and resources will continue to grow and the
United States will lose its position as the world's leader in ocean
Congress should double the Federal ocean and coastal research
budget over the next five years, from the 2004 level of approximately
$650 million to $1.3 billion per year. As part of this increase, the
National Ocean Council or Congress should:
fund the research component of the regional ocean
information programs to provide practical, management-oriented
information at regional, State, and local levels;
create a national program for social science and economic
research to examine the human dimensions and economic value of
the Nation's oceans and coasts, with funding of at least $8-10
million a year;
establish a joint Oceans and Human Health Initiative funded
at $28 million a year;
significantly increase the budget of the National Sea Grant
To ensure that increased investments are used wisely and that
important research activities continue, Federal agencies will need to
create long-term strategic plans. A mechanism is required to coordinate
federally-funded ocean research, support long-term projects, and create
partnerships throughout all agencies and sectors. Transparent and
comprehensive research plans would achieve these goals and ensure that
research results can be translated into operational products in a
timely manner. The National Ocean Council should develop a national
ocean research strategy that reflects a long-term vision, promotes
advances in basic and applied ocean science and technology, and guides
relevant agencies in developing ten-year science plans and budgets.
About 95 percent of the ocean floor remains unexplored, much of it
located in harsh environments such as the polar latitudes and the
Southern Ocean. Experience teaches us, however, that these vast and
remote regions teem with undiscovered species and resources. On
virtually every expedition, oceanographers discover fascinating new
creatures. Advances in deep-sea technologies have also made it easier
to locate shipwrecks and historical artifacts lost in the ocean depths,
such as the stunning discovery of the RMS Titanic in 1985. The
continued exploration of marine archaeological sites will help us to
better understand human history and our global cultural heritage.
Very little is known about the ocean depths due primarily to the
lack of a long-term, large-scale national commitment to ocean
exploration. In 2000, recommendations from the President's Panel on
Ocean Exploration led to the establishment of the Office of Exploration
within NOAA, at a modest funding level of $4 million in Fiscal Year
2001, and $14 million in each of Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003. This
program is helping NOAA to fulfill its applied science, environmental
assessment, and technology development responsibilities; although the
program's small budget and agency-specific focus limit its
NOAA and NSF, by virtue of their missions and mandates, are well
positioned to lead a global U.S. ocean exploration effort. NOAA
currently runs the Office of Ocean Exploration, but NSF's focus on
basic research provides an excellent complement to NOAA's more applied
mission. Working together, the two agencies have the capacity to
systematically explore and conduct research in previously unexamined
ocean environments. To succeed, coordination, joint funding, and
interactions with academia and industry will be essential. Congress
should appropriate significant funding for an expanded national ocean
exploration program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and the National Science Foundation should be designated
as the lead agencies. An expanded national ocean exploration program
will require a budget of approximately $110 million annually, plus
additional funds for required infrastructure.
Mapping, Charting, and Assessments
The need for routine mapping, monitoring, and assessment of U.S.
waters has grown significantly in the past two decades. Accurate, up-
to-date maps and charts of harbors, coastlines, and the open ocean are
necessary for many activities, including shipping, military operations,
and scientific research. In addition, expanded regulatory regimes rely
heavily on routine assessments of living and nonliving marine resources
and water quality. Modern sensor technologies, which can detect new
variables in greater detail in the water column and seafloor, have
improved our ability to follow changing ocean and terrestrial dynamics.
But as these new technologies are implemented, they need to be
calibrated against previous methods, as well as with each other, to
provide useful environmental characterizations and ensure the
consistency of long-term statistical data sets.
At least ten Federal agencies, almost all coastal states, and many
local agencies, academic institutions, and private companies are
involved in mapping, charting, and assessing living and nonliving
resources in U.S. waters. However, different organizations use varying
methods for collecting and presenting these data, leading to disparate
products that contain gaps in the information they present. Ideally, a
variety of information (e.g., bathymetry, topography, bottom type,
habitat, salinity, vulnerability) should be integrated into maps using
Global Positioning System coordinates and a common geodetic reference
frame. In addition, these maps should include living marine resources,
energy resources, and environmental data when available, to create
complete environmental characterizations necessary for developing and
implementing science-based ecosystem-based management approaches.
Coordination of the many existing Federal mapping activities will
increase efficiency and help ensure that all necessary surveys are
conducted. Drawing upon the mapping and charting abilities found in the
private sector and academia will also be necessary to achieve the best
results at the lowest cost.
The National Ocean Council should coordinate Federal ocean and
coastal resource assessment, mapping, and charting activities with the
goal of creating standardized, easily accessible national maps that
incorporate living and nonliving marine resource data along with
bathymetry, topography, and other natural features.
Achieving a Sustained, Integrated Ocean Observing System
About 150 years ago, this Nation set out to create a comprehensive
weather forecasting and warning network and today most people cannot
imagine living without constantly updated weather reports. Recognizing
the enormous national benefits that have accrued from the weather
observing network, it is time to invest in a similar observational and
forecasting capability for the oceans. This system would gather
information on physical, geological, chemical, and biological
parameters for the oceans and coasts, conditions that affect--and are
affected by--humans and their activities. The United States currently
has the scientific and technological capacity to develop a sustained,
national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) that will support and
enhance the Nation's efforts for:
improving the health of our coasts and oceans;
protecting human lives and livelihoods from marine hazards;
supporting national defense and homeland security efforts;
measuring, explaining, and predicting environmental changes;
providing for the sustainable use, protection, and enjoyment
of ocean resources;
The National Ocean Council should make the development and
implementation of a sustained, national Integrated Ocean Observing
System a central focus of its leadership and coordination role. The
United States simply cannot provide the economic, environmental, and
security benefits listed above, achieve new levels of understanding and
predictive capability, or generate the information needed by a wide
range of users, without implementing the IOOS.
The IOOS is based on two components: (1) open ocean observations
conducted in cooperation with the international Global Ocean Observing
System (GOOS) and (2) a national network of coastal observations
conducted at the regional level. The coastal component will include the
U.S. exclusive economic zone, the Great Lakes, and coastal and
A strong national governance structure is required to establish
policy and provide oversight for all components of the IOOS and to
ensure strong integration among the regional, national, and global
levels. Interagency coordination and consensus through the National
Ocean Council and Ocean.US will be essential. While regional systems
will retain a level of autonomy, achievement of the IOOS with
nationwide benefits will require the regional systems to follow some
national guidelines and standards. In addition, developers of the IOOS
must ensure that the global component is not minimized and that the
connectivity with the GOOS, including U.S. funding and leadership,
remains strong and viable.
Ocean.US has made significant progress as the lead organization for
the design and implementation of the national IOOS. However, a
fundamental problem current exists in that Ocean.US has a number of
responsibilities without any real authority or control over budgets.
Its ephemeral existence under the Memorandum of Agreement which created
it, its dependence on personnel detailed from the member agencies, and
its lack of a dedicated budget severely detract from its stature within
the ocean community and its ability to carry out its responsibilities.
Congress should formally establish Ocean.US under the National Ocean
Council structure so that it may effectively advise the NOC and achieve
its coordination and planning mandates. The office requires consistent
funding and dedicated full-time staff with the expertise and skills
needed to ensure professional credibility. In addition, outside experts
on rotational appointments could help Ocean.US better meet its
Coordinating Regional Observing Systems
Ocean.US envisions the creation of a nationwide network of regional
ocean observing systems that will form the backbone of coastal
observations for the IOOS. Although Ocean.US has proposed the creation
of Regional Associations, coordinated through a national federation, as
the governing bodies of the regional systems, this concept is
unnecessarily narrow. To fully address the needs of coastal managers,
ocean observations need to be integrated into other information
gathering activities such as regionally-focused research, outreach and
education, and regional ecosystem assessments. Thus, the proposed
regional ocean information programs provide a more comprehensive
mechanism for developing and implementing regional ocean observing
systems, in coordination with their broader responsibilities. Regular
meetings among all the regional ocean information programs and Ocean.US
will be important for providing regional and local input into
developing requirements of the national IOOS.
Reaching Out to the User Community
The IOOS must meet the needs of a broad suite of users, including
the general public. To get the most out of the IOOS, resource managers
at Federal, State, regional, territorial, tribal, and local levels will
need to supply input about their information needs and operational
requirements and provide guidance on what output would be most useful.
Other users, including educators, ocean and coastal industries,
fishermen, and coastal citizens, must also have a visible avenue for
providing input. Ocean.US and the regional ocean information programs
will need to devote significant time and thought to proactively
approaching users and promoting public awareness of the enormous
potential of the IOOS.
Planning Space-based Observations
An integral part of the national IOOS are the space-borne sensors
that provide comprehensive, real-time, widespread coverage of ocean
conditions and features. However, implementing sustained observations
from space requires intense planning with long lead times. Given the
cost, the time frame for constructing and launching satellites, and the
inability to modify satellites once in orbit, five- to ten-year plans
are required to ensure that satellite observations will be available on
a continuous basis and employ the most useful and modern sensors.
Ocean.US and NOAA must work with NASA to ensure that ongoing satellite
operations are fully integrated into the national IOOS.
Both NOAA and NASA currently operate civilian, space-based, Earth
observing programs that measure terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic
variables. NOAA's primary mission in this area is to provide sustained,
operational observations for monitoring and predicting environmental
conditions and long-term changes, with a focus on weather and climate.
In contrast, NASA's mission is to advance research efforts and sensor
development. A NASA project can last from a few days to a few years,
and NASA has repeatedly asserted that it is not in the business of
providing data continuity. In many instances, the lifetime of a NASA
satellite, and its continued ability to collect and transmit data,
outlasts its funding, resulting in premature termination at odds with
the pressing demands for data in the operational context. Thus NASA's
efforts have not, and will not, result in the sustained capabilities
needed for the national IOOS.
Congress should transfer the operation of NASA's Earth
environmental observing satellites, along with associated resources, to
NOAA to achieve continuous data collection. NOAA and NASA should work
together to plan future missions and then ensure the smooth transition
of each Earth environmental observing satellite after its launch. By
consolidating Earth, and particularly ocean, observing satellite
missions in NOAA, more seamless, long-term planning will be possible,
resulting in a smooth concept-to-operations data collection process.
Information Product Development
To justify large Federal investments in the IOOS, the system must
result in tangible benefits for a broad and diverse user community,
including the general public, scientists, resource managers, emergency
responders, policymakers, private industry, educators, and officials
responsible for homeland security. National Weather Service and
commercial meteorological products have applications ranging from
scientific research to human safety, transportation, agriculture, and
simple daily forecasts. Similarly, IOOS products should be wide-ranging
and based on the needs of regional and local organizations and
communities, as well as national needs. The regional ocean information
programs should help produce information products of benefit to
regional, State, and local managers and organizations. These regional
programs will also provide important feedback to national forecasters
and modelers about ways to make national IOOS products more useful.
Funding the IOOS
To fulfill its potential, the IOOS will require stable funding over
the long haul. The lack of long-term funding for existing regional
ocean observing systems has contributed to their isolation and
piecemeal implementation. But consistent funding will help ensure that
the American public receives the greatest return for its investment in
the form of useful information, reliable forecasts, and timely
warnings. The estimated start-up costs for the implementation of the
national IOOS over the first five years is close to $2 billion.
Continuous improvements to IOOS observation and prediction
capabilities will also require sustained investments in technology
development. Considering the costs of sensor development,
telecommunications, computer systems, and improvements in modeling and
prediction capabilities, annual costs for operating, maintaining, and
upgrading the national IOOS are estimated to be $650-$750 million a
Whole Earth Observations
The IOOS cannot exist as a stand-alone system, developed without
considering associated observations. Rather, it should be integrated
with other environmental observing systems to link weather, climate,
terrestrial, biological, watershed, and ocean observations into a
unified Earth Observing System. The National Ocean Council should
oversee coordination of the IOOS with other existing and planned
terrestrial, watershed, atmospheric, and biological observation and
information collection systems, with the ultimate goal of developing a
national Earth Observing System. Such a system would improve
understanding of environmental changes, processes, and interactions,
making ecosystem-based management possible.
Enhancing Ocean Infrastructure and Technology Development
A robust infrastructure with cutting-edge technology forms the
backbone of modern ocean science. It supports scientific discovery and
facilitates application of those discoveries to the management of ocean
resources. The nation has long relied on technological innovation,
including satellites, early-warning systems, broadband
telecommunications, and pollution control devices to advance economic
prosperity, protect life and property, and conserve natural resources.
Ocean research, exploration, mapping, and assessment activities will
continue to rely on modern facilities and new technologies to acquire
data in the open ocean, along the coasts, in polar regions, on the
seafloor, and even from space.
The three major components of the Nation's scientific
infrastructure for oceans and coasts are:
Facilities--land-based laboratories and ocean platforms,
including ships, airplanes, satellites, and submersibles, where
research and observations are conducted;
Hardware--research equipment, instrumentation, sensors, and
information technology systems used in the facilities; and
Technical Support--the expert human resources needed to
operate and maintain the facilities and hardware as well as
participating in data collection, assimilation, analysis,
modeling, and dissemination.
The number and types of assets included in the national ocean
science infrastructure are extensive and cover a wide range of Federal,
State, academic, institutional, and private-sector entities.
Together, they represent a substantial public and private
investment that has made possible great strides in modern oceanography
over the last 50 years. But a recent assessment of these assets
revealed that significant components of the U.S. ocean infrastructure
are aged or obsolete and that, in some cases, current capacity is
insufficient to meet the needs of the ocean science and operational
community. The National Ocean Council's Committee on Ocean Science,
Education, Technology, and Operations should develop a national ocean
and coastal infrastructure and technology strategy to achieve and
maintain an appropriate mix of federally-supported, modern ocean
facilities that meet the Nation's needs for quality resource
management, science, and assessment.
Funding Needed Assets
There are currently several critically needed components of the
ocean science and technology infrastructure, including:
Surface vessels, such as new University National
Oceanographic Laboratory System vessels and fishery research
Undersea vehicles, including an array of manned, remotely
operated, and autonomous submersibles
Aircraft, both manned and unmanned
Modern laboratories and instrumentation
Dedicated ocean exploration platforms
Environmental and biological sensors
Congress should establish a modernization fund to support these
critical ocean infrastructure and technology needs. Such a fund would
be used to build or upgrade facilities and acquire related
instrumentation and equipment. It would also provide a mechanism to
coordinate similar equipment purchases across agencies, where feasible,
creating significant economies of scale. Current and future spending
priorities for the fund should be based on the National Ocean Council's
ocean and coastal infrastructure and technology strategy.
The development of needed ocean technologies--whether identified by
the national strategy or through interagency communication--requires
directed funding and coordination. Federal agency programs will benefit
by having a centralized office responsible for accelerating the
transition of technological advances made by Federal and academic
laboratories into routine operations.
NOAA should create, and Congress should fund, an Office of
Technology to expedite the transition of experimental technologies into
operational applications. This office should work closely with academic
institutions, the regional ocean information programs, the National
Science Foundation, the U.S. Navy, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, and other relevant agencies to achieve this mission.
Modernizing Ocean Data and Information Products
Ocean and coastal data are essential for understanding marine
processes and resources. They are the foundation for the science-based
information on which resource managers depend. But storing and
processing large amounts of data, and converting them into information
products useful to a broad community of end users, remains a huge
There are two major challenges facing data managers today: the
exponentially growing volume of data, which continually strains data
ingestion, storage, and assimilation capabilities; and the need for
timely access to these data by the user community in a variety of
useful formats. Meeting these challenges will require a concerted
effort to integrate and modernize the current data management system.
The ultimate goal of improved ocean data management should be to
effectively store, access, integrate, and utilize a wide and disparate
range of data needed to better understand the environment and to
translate and deliver scientific results and information products in a
An interagency group, dedicated to ocean data and information
planning, is needed to enhance coordination, effectively use existing
resources for joint projects, schedule future software and hardware
acquisitions and upgrades, and oversee strategic funding.
Congress should amend the National Oceanographic Partnership Act to
create and fund Ocean.IT as the lead Federal interagency planning
organization for ocean and coastal data and information management.
Ocean.IT should consist of representatives from all Federal agencies
involved in ocean data and information management, be supported by a
small office, and report to the National Ocean Council's Committee on
Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and Operations.
Ocean.IT should coordinate the development of a viable, long-term
data management strategy which includes:
The implementation of an interagency plan to improve access
to data at the national data centers, Distributed Active
Archive Centers, and other discipline-based centers. This plan
will need to be appropriately integrated with other national
and international data management plans, including those for
the Integrated Ocean Observing System and Global Ocean
Opportunities to partner with the private sector to enhance
environmental data and information management capabilities.
This organization should not have an operational role, but instead
should be responsible solely for interagency planning and coordination,
similar to the role of Ocean.US for the IOOS.
Informational Product Development
Compared to a few decades ago, an impressive array of data and
information products for forecasting ocean and coastal conditions is
now available from a wide range of sources. A mechanism is now needed
to bring these data together, including the enormous amounts of
information that will be generated by the national IOOS, and use these
data to generate and disseminate products beneficial to large and
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S.
Navy should establish a joint ocean and coastal information management
and communications program to generate information products relevant to
national, regional, State, and local needs on an operational basis.
This program should build on the Navy's model for operational
oceanography and take advantage of the strengths of both agencies to
reduce duplication and more effectively meet the Nation's information
needs. This partnership will also allow for the prompt incorporation of
classified military data into informational products without publicly
releasing the raw data. A NOAA-Navy joint program would rapidly advance
U.S. coastal and ocean analyses and forecasting capabilities using all
available physical, biological, chemical, and socioeconomic data.
Interactions between private companies and the NOAA-Navy national
ocean and coastal information management and communications program
could lead to the production of a wide range of general and tailored
forecast and warning products. An interface between national
forecasters at the NOAA-Navy program and the regional ocean information
programs would also help identify ocean and coastal informational
products of particular value at the regional and local levels.
Promoting Lifelong Ocean Education
Education has provided the skilled and knowledgeable workforce that
made America a world leader in technology, productivity, prosperity,
and security. However, the emergence of rampant illiteracy about
science, mathematics, and the environment now threaten the future of
America, its people, and the oceans on which we rely.
Testing results suggest that, after getting off to a good start in
elementary school, by the time U.S. students graduate from high school
their achievement in math and science falls well below the
international average. Ocean-related topics offer an effective tool to
keep students interested in science, increase their awareness of the
natural world, and boost their academic achievement in many areas. In
addition, the links between the marine environment and human experience
make the oceans a powerful vehicle for teaching history, culture,
economics, and other social sciences. Yet teachers receive little
guidance on how they might use exciting ocean subjects to engage
students, while adhering to the national and State science and other
education standards that prescribe their curricula.
In addition, a 1999 study indicated that just 32 percent of the
Nation's adults grasp simple environmental concepts, and even fewer
understand more complex issues, such as ecosystem decline, loss of
biodiversity, or watershed degradation. It is not generally understood
that nonpoint source pollution threatens the health of our coastal
waters, or that mercury in fish comes from human activities via the
atmosphere. Few people understand the tangible value of the ocean to
the Nation or that their own actions can have an impact on that
resource. From excess applications of fertilizers, pesticides, and
herbicides on lawns, to the trash washed off city streets into rivers
and coastal waters, ordinary activities contribute significantly to the
degradation of the marine environment. Without an acknowledgement of
the impacts associated with ordinary behavior and a willingness to take
the necessary action--which may incur additional costs--achieving a
collective commitment to more responsible lifestyles and new policies
will be difficult.
Excellent lifelong education in marine affairs and sciences is
essential to raising public awareness of the close connection between
the oceans and humans, including our history and culture. This
awareness will result in better public understanding of the connections
among the ocean, land, and atmosphere, the potential benefits and costs
inherent in resource use, and the roles of government and citizens as
To successfully address complex ocean- and coastal-related issues,
balance the use and conservation of marine resources, and realize
future benefits from the ocean, an interested, engaged public will be
needed. The public should be armed not only with the knowledge and
skills needed to make informed choices, but also with a sense of
excitement about the marine environment. Individuals should understand
the importance of the ocean to their lives and should realize how
individual actions affect the marine environment. Public understanding
of human impacts on the marine environment should be balanced with
recognition of the benefits to be derived from well-managed ocean
resources. Because of the connection among the ocean, the atmosphere,
and the land, inland communities need to be just as informed as seaside
Ocean-related education has the potential to stem the tide of
science illiteracy threatening to undermine the Nation's health,
safety, and security. Children have a natural curiosity about the world
around them and this allure could be parlayed into higher achievement
in other subjects as well. The influence of the ocean on nearly every
aspect of daily life, and the central role it plays in the development
of the nation, make ocean-based studies ideal for enhancing student
performance in areas such as geography, history, economics, policy, and
law. Strengthening science literacy, therefore, encompasses not only
natural sciences, but a full suite of social sciences.
Future Ocean Leaders
The nation needs a diverse, knowledgeable, and adequately prepared
workforce to enhance understanding of the marine environment and make
decisions regarding complex ocean- and coastal-related issues. The
education of the 21st century ocean-related workforce will require not
only a strong understanding of oceanography and other disciplines, but
an ability to integrate science concepts, engineering methods, and
sociopolitical considerations. Resolving complex ocean issues related
to economic stability, environmental health, and national security will
require a workforce with diverse skills and backgrounds. Developing and
maintaining such a workforce will rely, in turn, on programs of higher
education that prepare future ocean professionals at a variety of
levels and in a variety of marine-related fields.
Coordinating Ocean Education
Although not all ocean-related Federal agencies have a specific
education mission, most have made efforts to reach out to students,
teachers, and the public to inform them about ocean issues, sometimes
by adding ocean-related components to larger science and environmental
education efforts. And while it is valuable for ocean-related
information to be included as part of broader environmental and science
education efforts, it is also important to support educational efforts
that focus specifically on oceans, coasts, and the human relationship
Federal programs can provide many opportunities for ocean-related
education, but ultimately education is a State responsibility, and
control is exerted primarily at the local level. Therefore, the
interaction between education administrators at the State, district,
and individual school levels and Federal agencies will be fundamental
to the success of any effort to use ocean-based examples to enhance
student achievement. Aquariums, zoos, and other informal education
centers also provide the public with opportunities to learn about the
marine environment and should be integral components of a national
effort to increase ocean-related education.
Despite the existence of many positive efforts, ocean education
remains a patchwork of independently conceived and implemented programs
and activities. These efforts cannot provide the nationwide momentum
and visibility needed to promote sustained ocean education for
students, teachers, and the general public. Within the Federal
Government, there is little discussion of ocean education, even among
those agencies with the greatest responsibility for ocean issues.
Different programs and funding mechanisms are not coordinated and
resources are seldom leveraged. Even within individual agencies,
offices that have education components often do not collaborate or
To strengthen ocean education and coordinate Federal education
efforts, the National Ocean Council should establish a national ocean
education office (Ocean.ED) under its Committee on Ocean Science,
Education, Technology, and Operations. This office should coordinate
and integrate Federal agency programs and leverage resources; serve as
a central, visible point of contact for K-12, university-level, and
informal education partners; and work with all parties to develop
coherent, comprehensive planning for ocean education efforts.
To fulfill its coordination activities, Congress should provide
dedicated funding for Ocean.ED operations and program implementation.
However, this national effort is not meant to replace other successful
programs and activities, but rather provide a mechanism for
communication, coordination, and joining of forces.
Developing Ocean Curricula
The value of ocean-based learning must be recognized within local
school districts to create a demand for ocean-related education
products. Federal, regional, State, and local education professionals
need to advocate for the inclusion of ocean-based examples in State and
local education requirements and testing. Collaborative efforts will be
needed to develop research-based, ocean-related curricular materials
that are aligned with State and national educational standards and meet
the needs of teachers. Ocean.ED, working with State and local education
authorities and the research community, should coordinate the
development and adoption of ocean-related materials and examples that
meet existing education standards.
Teaching the Teachers
Higher expectations for our youth mean higher expectations for
teachers as well. Students cannot achieve without instruction by
capable teachers who are knowledgeable in the topics being presented.
Thus, improving the quality of science and math education must begin
with improving preparation of undergraduates studying to be teachers
(referred to as pre-service teachers) and professional development for
certified teachers in the classroom (referred to as in-service
The ocean research community is brimming with potential for
engaging K-12 educators in the excitement and satisfaction of the
scientific enterprise, and the Nation's research infrastructure
provides significant opportunities for formal preparation, hands-on
involvement, and teacher certification. Although several public and
private sector programs can provide teachers with research experience
in ocean-related topics, access to these programs is quite limited,
very few have long-term, stable funding, and the different efforts are
poorly coordinated. Ocean.ED, working with academic institutions and
local school districts, should help establish stronger and more
effective relationships between the research and education communities
to expand professional development opportunities for teachers and
Bringing Oceans Education to All Students
Through field and laboratory experiments, oceans offer a natural
avenue for students to gain first-hand exposure to science while
developing an awareness of the importance of the ocean. Not all
students are near, or able to travel to, the shore, but new ocean
research technologies represent a tremendous and virtually untapped
avenue to overcome this limitation, allowing students anywhere to be
involved in real oceanographic investigations. The same remote-access
technologies that make advanced ocean research possible can also help
students and teachers participate in collecting, analyzing, and
distributing ocean data. Enabling students to interact with practicing
scientists, even if they are thousands of miles away, can help create a
lifelong affinity for learning.
Social, economic, and cultural factors can also play an influential
role in inhibiting a student's access to education opportunities,
especially science-based opportunities. These factors are unusually
strong among minority students and other groups that have been
traditionally underrepresented and underserved in scientific fields,
including marine sciences. Repairing this broken link will depend on
exposing minority students to ocean-related studies early in their
education, continuing that exposure throughout their school years, and
demonstrating the possibilities and rewards of a career in ocean-
Federal agencies and academic institutions should find ways to
provide all students with opportunities to participate in ocean
research and exploration, virtually or in person, including summer
programs, field trips, remote participation in ocean expeditions, and,
most important, after-school activities. Mentoring, especially near-
peer guidance, is critical and should be a component of any student-
oriented program. Ocean.ED should promote partnerships among school
districts, institutions of higher learning, aquariums, science centers,
museums, and private laboratories to develop more opportunities for
students to explore the marine environment, both through virtual means
and hands-on field, laboratory, and at-sea experiences. Ocean.ED should
also ensure that ocean-based educational programs and materials
acknowledge cultural differences and other aspects of human diversity,
resulting in programs that expose students and teachers from all
cultures and backgrounds to ocean issues.
Drawing Students into the Field of Ocean Science and Management
The ocean community must compete with countless other professions
in attracting the talent it needs. Success lies, in part, in promoting
marine-related career opportunities among undergraduate students from a
broad range of disciplines. First-hand experiences in marine fields can
be influential in demonstrating the possibilities and rewards of an
Intellectually stimulating and financially attractive options for
pursuing graduate studies in an ocean-related field must follow, so a
student's developing interest in ocean studies is not overshadowed by
other professions that actively pursue, encourage, and support their
future leaders. Ocean sciences have another potentially important role
to play at the undergraduate level. Marine science courses can be
attractive options for non-science majors who need to fulfill science
requirements for graduation, presenting an excellent opportunity to
raise general ocean awareness.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National
Science Foundation, and Office of Naval Research should support
colleges and universities in promoting introductory marine science
courses to expose students, including non-science majors, to these
Training Ocean Professionals
Because ocean science is fundamentally interdisciplinary, well-
trained ocean professionals can find excellent careers in many areas
including engineering, economics, education, law, management, policy,
science, and technology. Individuals considering or pursuing graduate
studies in a marine field should be aware of these options, and
exploration of nontraditional marine areas should be encouraged.
Equally important, professionals educated and trained in other fields
should be made aware of the exciting opportunities available to them in
Ocean.ED should guide and promote the development of the Nation's
ocean-related workforce by:
promoting student support, diversified educational
opportunities, and investment in innovative approaches to
graduate education that prepare students for a broad range of
careers in academia, government, and industry;
encouraging graduate departments of ocean sciences and
engineering to experiment with new or redesigned programs that
emphasize cross-disciplinary courses of study.
Complementing the need to create an adequate workforce is the need
to sustain and enhance that workforce through professional development
and continuing education opportunities. Learning does not stop once the
formal education process is complete; ocean professionals in all fields
must be provided the means and liberty to continually build upon their
knowledge and skills throughout their careers.
Informing the Public
Public information needs are as varied as our population is
diverse. Some individuals will benefit from detailed information on how
specific issues directly affect their jobs or business. Others may need
information presented in a language and media tailored to their culture
and community. Still others seek advice on how to alter their own
activities to support responsible ocean stewardship. This information
is as critical for those who live in the heartland as for those who
live near the shore.
Informal education requires outreach programs, in partnership with
local communities, to make contact with individuals where they live and
work, regarding issues that affect how they live and work, in a style
that speaks to them. Information supplied to the public should be
timely and accurate. It should also be supported by a system that
allows for follow-up and the acquisition of additional information or
guidance. Ocean.ED, working with other appropriate entities, should
enhance existing and establish new mechanisms for developing and
delivering relevant, accessible information and outreach programs to
enhance community education.
Regional Outreach--Connecting the Research and Education Communities
Collaboration between the research and education communities must
be improved if ocean-based information, including ocean data and new
discoveries, is to be transformed into exciting and accessible
materials to stimulate student achievement and enhance public
awareness. Some efforts do exist to make these connections, most
notably through the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence
(COSEE) and National Sea Grant College Program.
The COSEE network, supported primarily through NSF, includes
regional centers and a central coordinating office that work to
integrate oceanographic data and information into high-quality
curricular materials, to provide ocean scientists with opportunities to
learn more about educational needs and requirements, to provide K-12
teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively
incorporate ocean-related information into their lessons, and to
deliver ocean-related information to the public. Though recognized as a
model for enhancing education and bringing accessible ocean-related
information to the public, COSEE currently has only seven regional
centers, each serving a limited number of schools in its area. The
program does not have the level of committed, long-term support
required to fully realize its potential.
While COSEE is currently a National Science Foundation program,
placing it within the National Ocean Council (NOC) structure would
capitalize on the tremendous potential to enhance and expand the
program. The NOC and the NSF should relocate COSEE within the larger
NOC structure as a program to be organized, overseen, and funded
through Ocean.ED. In addition, the number of COSEE regional offices
should be tripled to 21 with each center receiving at least $1.5
million a year for an initial five-year period.
National Sea Grant College Program
The National Sea Grant College Program was created by Congress in
1966 as a partnership between the Nation's universities and NOAA. Sea
Grant programs sponsor research, education, outreach, and technology
transfer through a network of Sea Grant Colleges and research
Sea Grant has forged connections between the research and education
communities since its inception. Its programs provide K-12 teacher
preparation and professional development programs consistent with State
education standards, offer hands-on educational experiences for
students, and develop research-based curricular and communications
materials for students and the public. The Sea Grant network relies on
longstanding local partnerships, with many connections to populations
that have been traditionally underrepresented and underserved by the
Despite its successes, however, Sea Grant is currently an
underutilized resource. The existing Sea Grant network requires
increased funding to expand its roles and responsibilities,
particularly in education and outreach. In particular, Sea Grant
extension and communications programs, familiar to many resource
managers and others in coastal communities, should become the primary
mechanisms for delivering and interpreting information products
developed through the regional ocean information programs
Specific Federal Responsibilities
Each Federal agency with ocean-related responsibilities--most
notably NOAA, NSF, and Office of Naval Research--has a responsibility
to help ensure a vibrant ocean-related workforce. These agencies need
to develop interrelated and crosscutting educational opportunities at
the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA should be particularly concerned with creating a pipeline of
students in areas it identifies to be of critical importance to the
agency. Opportunities should include both research experiences,
especially exposure to mission-oriented research, and experiences
beyond the research arena. Student exposure can begin as early as the
junior or senior level in high school, continuing through postdoctoral
education. A range of programs will help identify and recruit the best
and brightest to careers in marine-related fields and ensure a
continuing source of essential human capital. At the graduate and
postdoctoral levels, NOAA should support fellowships and traineeships
that emphasize interdisciplinary approaches and real-world experiences
beyond the university setting.
NOAA should establish a national ocean education and training
program, patterned after the National Institutes of Health model,
within its Office of Education and Sustainable Development to provide
diverse, innovative ocean-related education opportunities at the
undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels.
In addition, NOAA should establish competitive ``Distinguished
Professorships in Marine Studies'' within Sea Grant Colleges or other
leading institutions of higher education with a demonstrated commitment
to marine programs. Disciplines of interest to NOAA for such
professorships could include fisheries science, climate research,
atmospheric studies, and marine resource economics, policy,
aquaculture, genomics, education, and ecosystem studies. The intent
would be to create a cadre of distinguished NOAA endowed chairs at
universities around the Nation.
National Science Foundation
At the undergraduate level, NSF's Research Experience for
Undergraduates program could be expanded to include more marine-related
experiences. At the graduate and postdoctoral levels, opportunities
could include fellowships that encourage cross-disciplinary research,
interdisciplinary traineeships, and master's degree fellowships.
Programs such as NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research
Training program, Centers for Learning and Teaching, and Graduate
Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education should be supported and enhanced
both within NSF and adopted by other Federal ocean agencies. The
National Science Foundation's Directorates of Geosciences, Biological
Sciences, and Education and Human Resources should develop cooperative
programs to provide diverse educational opportunities at the
undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels in a range of ocean-
Office of Naval Research
The success of the Navy depends on a well-developed understanding
of the environment in which it operates. Understanding the ocean
environment--including the atmosphere above it, the seafloor beneath
it, and the coastlines that encircle it--will always be a core naval
requirement. Thus the Navy should play a central role in ensuring
support for the education of future generations of ocean professionals.
The Office of Naval Research should reinvigorate its support of
graduate education in ocean sciences and engineering. This could be
partly accomplished by increasing the number of ocean-related awards
made under ONR's National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate
Specific Management Challenges
Although the areas I discussed--improved governance through a new
National Ocean Policy Framework, the incorporation of scientific
information in decisionmaking, and broad public education--represent
the overarching areas that this Nation must address using the guiding
principles I mentioned earlier, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy did
not stop there in its deliberations and recommendations. The Commission
also addressed a wide range of specific ocean management challenges--
challenges that will continue to be addressed individually, but which
now must also become part of more ecosystem based management approach,
applying the guiding principles throughout the management process.
These individual ocean and coastal management challenges include:
Linking the management of coasts and watersheds; Protecting life and
property from natural hazards; Restoring and conserving habitat; Better
managing sediments and shorelines; Supporting marine commerce and
transportation; Reducing water pollution from all sources, including
from vessels and through the introduction of marine debris; Preventing
the introduction of invasive species; Sustainably managing our
fisheries; Protecting marine mammals and other marine species;
Conserving corals and corals reefs; Enabling the environmentally-sound
development of marine aquaculture; Understanding and safeguarding
Oceans and Human Health; and, developing offshore energy resources and
Improving Management of Coasts and Watersheds
Let me begin by addressing some of the issues in our coastal areas.
While coastal counties (located entirely or partially within coastal
watersheds) comprise only 17 percent of the land area in the contiguous
United States, they are home to more than 53 percent of the total U.S.
population. Coastal population trends indicate average increases of
3,600 people a day moving to coastal counties, reaching a total
population of 165 million by 2015. These figures do not include the 180
million people who visit the coast every year.
Population growth and tourism bring many benefits to coastal
communities, including new jobs and businesses and enhanced educational
opportunities. The popularity of ocean and coastal areas increases
pressures on these environments, creating a number of challenges for
managers and decisionmakers. Increased development puts more people and
property at risk from coastal hazards, reduces and fragments fish and
wildlife habitat, alters sedimentation rates and flows, and contributes
to coastal water pollution.
The pattern of coastal growth--often in scattered and unplanned
clusters of homes and businesses--is also significant. Urban sprawl
increases the need for infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and
sewers, degrading the coastal environment while making fragile or
hazard-prone areas ever more accessible to development. Because of the
connections between coastal and upland areas, development and sprawl
that occur deep within the Nation's watersheds also affect coastal
To reap economic benefits and mitigate pressures associated with
growing coastal development, State and local governments needs more
Federal support to enhance their capacity to plan for and guide growth,
and to employ watershed management approaches.
A complex combination of individuals and institutions at all levels
of government make decisions that cumulatively affect the Nation's
ocean and coastal areas. These institutional processes determine where
to build infrastructure, encourage commerce, extract natural resources,
dispose of wastes, and protect or restore environmental attributes.
Although most coastal management activities take place at State and
local levels, coastal decisionmaking is also influenced by Federal
actions, including funding decisions and standard setting. Of the many
Federal programs that provide guidance and support for State and local
decisionmaking, some address the management of activities and resources
within designated geographic areas, while others address the management
of specific resources, such as fisheries or marine mammals.
The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) is the Federal Government's
principal tool for fostering comprehensive coastal management. The CZMA
created the Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM Program), a unique
partnership between the Federal and coastal state governments, whose
goal is to balance the conservation of the coastal environment with the
responsible development of economic and cultural interests. The tools,
assistance, and resources provided by the CZMA have enabled States and
territories to increase their management capacity and improve
decisionmaking to enhance the condition of their coastal areas.
However, the CZM Program can be strengthened in a number of ways,
including by developing strong, specific, measurable goals and
performance standards that reflect a growing understanding of the ocean
and coastal environments and the need to manage growth in regions under
pressure from coastal development. A large portion of Federal funding
should be linked to program performance with additional incentives
offered to States that perform exceptionally well. In addition, a
fallback mechanism is needed to ensure that national goals are realized
when a State does not adequately participate or perform. Finally, the
landside boundaries of State coastal management programs should also be
reconsidered. At a minimum, each State should set the inland extent of
its coastal zone based on the boundaries of coastal watersheds.
In addition to the CZM Program, other Federal area-based coastal
programs include NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System and
National Marine Sanctuaries Program; EPA's National Estuary Program;
and Fish and Wildlife Service's Coastal Program and Coastal Barrier
Resources System. These programs have made significant progress in
managing coastal resources in particular locations, working with
communities and decisionmakers in those areas, and fostering improved
coordination between different levels of government. However, because
these programs generally operate in isolation from one another, they
cannot ensure effective management of all ocean and coastal resources
or achievement of broad national goals. As NOAA is strengthened through
the multi-phased approach described earlier, consolidation of area-
based coastal resource management programs will result in more
effective, unified strategies for managing these areas, an improved
understanding of the ocean and coastal environment, and a basis for
moving toward an ecosystem-based management approach.
Federal programs related to transportation, flood insurance,
disaster relief, wetlands permitting, dredging, beach nourishment,
shoreline protection, and taxation also exert a profound influence on
the coast. While these laws and policies address specific issues, and
have each provided societal benefits, in many cases Federal activities
under their purview have inadvertently led to degradation of coastal
environments. For this reason, policies should be re-evaluated to
ensure consistency with national, regional, and State goals aimed at
achieving economically and environmentally sustainable development.
Linking Coastal and Watershed Management
For well over a decade there has been a growing interest in
watershed management. This approach addresses water quality and
quantity issues by acknowledging the hydrologic connections between
upstream and downstream areas and considering the cumulative impacts of
all activities that take place throughout a watershed. Watersheds are
optimal organizing units for dealing with the management of water and
closely related resources. The benefits of a watershed focus have also
been recognized at the state, regional, national, and international
levels through successful efforts such as the Chesapeake Bay Program,
the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the bi-national Great Lakes
Commission. At the Federal level, EPA has supported efforts to address
a variety of problems at the watershed level.
Many watershed groups are formed at the local level by community
members concerned about water quality or the health of fish and
wildlife populations. Often, these groups work to improve watershed
health through partnerships among citizens, industry, interest groups,
and government. However, the environmental and political
characteristics of the Nation's watersheds vary tremendously, and
watershed management initiatives can differ widely in size and scope.
As interest in watershed management continues to grow, so does the need
for a framework to guide such initiatives and evaluate their
The Federal Government can play an important role by helping to
develop this framework and by providing assistance to States and
communities for watershed initiatives. Congress should amend the
Coastal Zone Management Act, the Clean Water Act, and other Federal
laws where appropriate, to provide better financial, technical, and
institutional support for watershed initiatives and better integration
of these initiatives into coastal management.
Assessing the Growing Cost of Natural Hazards
The nation has experienced enormous and growing losses from natural
hazards. Conservative estimates, including only direct costs such as
those for structural replacement and repair, put the nationwide losses
from all natural hazards at more than $50 billion a year, though some
experts believe this figure represents only half or less of the true
costs. More accurate figures for national losses due to natural hazards
are unavailable because the United States does not consistently collect
and compile such data, let alone focus on specific losses in coastal
areas. Additionally, there are no estimates of the costs associated
with destruction of natural environments.
Many Federal agencies have explicit operational responsibilities
related to hazards management, while numerous others provide technical
information or deliver disaster assistance. The nation's lead agencies
for disaster response, recovery, mitigation, and planning are the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers (USACE). These agencies implement programs that specifically
target the reduction of risks from natural hazards. NOAA and USFWS also
have a significant influence on natural hazards management.
Opportunities for improving Federal natural hazards management,
include: Amending Federal infrastructure policies that encourage
inappropriate development; Augmenting hazards information collection
and dissemination; Improving the National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP); and Undertaking effective and universal hazards mitigation
Conserving and Restoring Coastal Habitat
The diverse habitats that comprise the ocean and coastal
environment provide tangible benefits such as buffering coastal
communities against the effects of storms, filtering pollutants from
runoff, and providing a basis for booming recreation and tourism
industries. These habitats also provide spawning grounds, nurseries,
shelter, and food for marine life, including a disproportionate number
of rare and endangered species.
As more people come to the coast to live, work, and visit, coastal
habitats face increasing pressures. Most human activities in coastal
areas provide distinct societal benefits, such as dredging rivers and
harbors to facilitate navigation, converting forests and wetlands for
agriculture and development, and building dams for flood control and
hydropower. But these activities can also degrade coastal habitats and
compromise their ability to adapt to environmental changes.
Conserving valuable ocean and coastal areas protects significant
habitat and other natural resources. Millions of coastal acres have
been designated for conservation by various levels of government, and
the tools for implementing conservation programs are found in a
multitude of statutes. A number of Federal programs aim to preserve the
natural attributes of specific areas while providing varying levels of
access to the public for educational, recreational, and commercial
purposes. In addition, nonregulatory conservation techniques--including
fee simple land acquisition, the purchase or donation of easements, tax
incentives and disincentives, and tradable development rights--play a
special role in enabling willing landowners to limit future development
on their land for conservation purposes. Land acquisition and easements
are often implemented through partnerships among governments,
nongovernmental organizations such as land trusts, and the private
sector. Funding and support for continued conservation of coastal and
estuarine lands is important to ensure the ability to maintain critical
habitats and the benefits they provide.
Conservation is cost-effective, avoiding the much larger expense
and scientific uncertainties associated with attempting to restore
habitats that have been degraded or lost. Even so, once critical
habitat has been lost, or the functioning of those areas diminished,
restoration is often needed. Habitat restoration efforts are
proliferating in response to heightened public awareness of and concern
for the health of the Nation's oceans and coasts.
Restoration efforts, particularly large-scale projects, are
challenging in a number of ways. First, the success of these efforts
requires an understanding about how to recreate natural systems and
restore historical ecosystem functions, a field still in its infancy.
Second, these efforts cross political boundaries and affect a broad
range of human activities, requiring support and intense coordination
among a wide range of governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders.
While some restoration projects have been successful, continued
progress will depend on sustained funding, government leadership and
coordination, scientific research, and stakeholder support.
In addition to the large-scale, regional restoration efforts, there
are numerous small-scale efforts that collectively make significant
contributions. These activities often demonstrate the power of public-
private partnerships, bringing together community members, government
agencies, and businesses to solve common problems. However, as long as
each project continues to be planned and implemented in isolation, its
overall impact will be constrained.
Currently the many entities that administer conservation and
restoration activities operate largely independently of one another,
with no framework for assessing overall benefits in an ecosystem-based
context. The multitude of disjointed programs prohibits a comprehensive
assessment of the progress of conservation and restoration efforts and
makes it difficult to ensure the most effective use of limited
resources. An overarching national strategy that sets goals and
priorities can also enhance the effectiveness of individual efforts and
provide a basis for coordinating measures and evaluating progress of
both habitat conservation and restoration activities.
Managing Sediment and Shorelines
Sediment in Great Lakes, coastal, and ocean waters is composed of
inorganic and organic particles created through erosion, decomposition
of plants and animals, and human activities. Sediment may be carried by
wind or water from upland areas down to coastal areas, or may originate
in the marine environment. Once sediment arrives at the ocean, it is
transported by wind, waves, and currents in dynamic processes that
constantly build up and wear away cliffs, beaches, sandbars, inlets,
and other natural features.
From a human perspective, sediment has a dual nature--desirable in
some locations and unwanted in others. Sediment can be used to create
or restore beaches and to renew wetlands and other coastal habitats.
Such activities are referred to as beneficial uses. Undesirable
sediment can cloud water and degrade wildlife habitat, form barriers to
navigation, and contaminate the food chain for marine plants, animals
The dual nature of sediment as both a threat and a resource to
humans and the environment makes its management particularly
challenging. To complicate matters further, the natural processes that
create, move, and deposit sediment operate on regional scales, while
management tends to focus on discrete locations--a single beach,
wetland, or port. In addition, the policies that affect sediment
location, transport, and quality fall under the jurisdiction of diverse
programs within multiple agencies at all levels of government. This
complex governance approach makes it difficult to manage sediment at
the appropriate scale and in consonance, rather than in conflict, with
Coastal stakeholders have increasingly recognized the need to
develop more proactive and preventive strategies. However, their
absence from broad watershed planning efforts--where decisions about
land use and water management could reduce excess and contaminated
sediments at their source--makes such change difficult to realize. The
nation needs both a better understanding of the interactions between
human activities and sediment flows, and a better mechanism for
involving all potentially affected parties.
Moving toward an ecosystem-based management approach is a critical
step. Participation by Federal, State, and local entities in watershed
management efforts, along with key stakeholders such as coastal
planners and port managers, is one way to diminish upland sources of
excess and contaminated sediment that harm the marine environment.
Ecosystem considerations should be included in the process for
permitting any activity that alters sediment flows.
Dredged materials have long been used to create new land for
commercial, residential, and infrastructure developments, as well as to
bolster beaches and barrier islands to protect against storm and
erosion hazards and enhance tourism and recreation. Since the 1970s,
these beneficial uses of dredged materials have also included
environmental enhancement, such as restoration of wetlands, creation of
wildlife habitat, and improvement of fish habitat. Surprisingly,
navigation-related dredged materials do not find their way into
beneficial use projects as often as perhaps they should. This is due in
part to sediment contamination, but also to USACE policies that favor
disposal in open waters or in upland dump sites. These policies may be
unnecessarily foregoing opportunities to support economic growth or
environmental protection and may have serious unintentional
consequences for aquatic ecosystems. A more accurate system for
selecting and ranking projects would be based on a comparative net
economic and environmental return for the United States rather than a
narrow cost-benefit analysis for a specific project.
Finally, the characterization, containment, removal, and treatment
of contaminated sediment continue to be technically difficult and
prohibitively expensive, and point to the importance of adopting an
adaptive management approach to the problem. Scientifically sound
methods for identifying contaminated sediment and developing innovative
technologies to improve dredging and treatment of this material are
critical steps toward improving the economic and ecological health of
coastal areas. To be successful, these efforts will require new
resources and effective regional planning.
Supporting Marine Commerce and Transportation
As the world's largest trading nation, the United States imports
and exports more merchandise than any other country and has one of the
most extensive marine transportation systems in the world. U.S. marine
import-export trade is an essential and growing component of the
national economy, accounting for nearly seven percent of the Nation's
gross domestic product. Domestically, coastal and inland marine trade
amounts to roughly one billion tons of cargo, worth more than $220
billion a year. The marine transportation system itself is a highly
complex public-private sector partnership consisting of an
interconnected mix of waterways, ports and terminals, water-based and
land-based intermodal connections, vessels, vehicles, equipment,
personnel, support service industries, and users.
For the Nation's marine transportation system to meet current and
future demands, ongoing maintenance, improvement, and expansion will be
required. A key prerequisite for a robust system is better
coordination, planning, decisionmaking and allocation of resources at
the Federal level. In particular it will be essential to enhance the
connections between this system and other modes of transportation, such
as highways, railways, and airports. At the same time, in moving toward
an ecosystem-based management approach, planning for the movement of
cargo and passengers should be coordinated with the management of many
other ocean and coastal uses and activities, and with efforts to
protect the marine environment.
Within the Federal Government, responsibilities for marine commerce
and transportation are spread among numerous agencies, primarily the
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Coast Guard, USACE, NOAA,
U.S. Customs Service, and EPA. These agencies have many roles,
including vessel traffic management, national security, marine safety,
waterway maintenance, environmental protection, and customs. These
responsibilities are poorly coordinated and do not mesh well with the
structure and function of such system. Statutory, regulatory, and
policy differences among Federal agencies with roles in marine
transportation lead to fragmentation, competition, and in some cases,
an inability to work collaboratively due to conflicting mandates.
National leadership and support will be needed to achieve better
integration within the Federal Government, better links with the rest
of the Nation's transportation infrastructure, and coordination between
marine transportation and other important ocean and coastal uses and
activities. The logical agency to assume this responsibility, as it
does for the highway, aviation, and railway systems, is DOT.
Even with one clearly mandated lead Federal agency, coordination
will be needed among the Federal and non-Federal participants in the
marine transportation system. Given the significance of domestic and
international trade to the Nation and the complexity of the components
that make up the system the Interagency Committee for the Marine
Transportation System (ICMTS) should be strengthened, codified and
placed under the oversight of the National Ocean Council. And because
marine transportation involves many actors outside the Federal
Government, the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council
should be maintained to coordinate among non-Federal participants in
the marine transportation system and a venue for providing input to the
Federal Government on important national issues.
An important step in allowing the U.S. marine transportation system
to grow, while minimizing increased congestion, delays, and costs to
U.S. businesses and consumers, is to improve the movement of cargo into
and out of ports. Existing intermodal connections are inadequate to
meet the expected increase in foreign and domestic trade. The nation's
transportation infrastructure is largely an agglomeration of competing
transportation modes, each focusing on its own priorities. While this
approach has produced an extensive infrastructure, a national strategy
is needed to enhance the connections among these modes, including the
Nation's ports, and ensure greater overall effectiveness.
DOT, working with the ICMTS, should draft a new national freight
transportation strategy to support continued growth of the Nation's
economy and international and domestic trade. Based on the new
strategy, investments should be directed toward planning and
implementation of intermodal projects of national significance. In
developing the national freight transportation strategy, DOT should
emphasize strategic planning with States, regions, and the public
sector as is already being carried out for the U.S. highway system.
Planning for the future of the U.S. marine transportation system
requires accurate and timely information, including estimates of the
volume of current and future cargo transportation, their origins and
destinations, and the capacity of the various transportation modes.
Such information is essential to understand the strengths and
weaknesses of the current system and the challenges and opportunities
for improving its effectiveness. DOT, working with other appropriate
entities, should establish a national data collection, research, and
analysis program to provide a comprehensive picture of freight flows in
the United States and to enhance the performance of the Nation's
intermodal transportation system. DOT should periodically assess and
prioritize the Nation's future needs for ports and intermodal
transportation capacity to meet expected growth in marine commerce.
Finally, natural disasters, labor disputes, terrorist attacks, ship
collisions, spills of hazardous materials, and many other human and
naturally caused events can disrupt the flow of marine cargo and
passenger services, causing severe economic and social ramifications
nationally and internationally. Diminished port capacity could also
affect vital military operations. In developing a national freight
transportation strategy, DOT should work closely with the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security and the FEMA to incorporate port
security and other emergency preparedness requirements. The strategy
should focus on preventing threats to national security and port
operations and on response and recovery practices that limit the
impacts of such events, including an assessment of the availability of
alternative port capacity.
Coastal and Ocean Water Quality
Coastal and ocean water quality is threatened by multiple sources
of pollution, including point and nonpoint source pollution,
atmospheric deposition of pollutants, vessel pollution, invasive
species, and trash being washed into the ocean and onto beaches.
Addressing these multiple pollutants will require development of an
ecosystem-based and watershed management approach that includes a
variety of management tools, coordination, and ongoing monitoring.
Addressing Coastal Water Pollution
Coastal waters are one of the Nation's greatest assets, yet they
are being bombarded with pollution from all directions. The heavy
concentration of activity in coastal areas, combined with pollutants
flowing from streams far inland and others carried through the air
great distances from their source, are the primary causes of nutrient
enrichment, hypoxia, toxic contamination, sedimentation, and other
problems that plague coastal waters.
Any solution must be founded on an ecosystem-based and watershed
management approach involving a broad range of agencies, programs, and
individuals. The complex array of laws, agencies, and programs that
address water pollution, and the number of parties involved, will
require greatly enhanced coordination among Federal agencies, primarily
EPA, NOAA, USDA, and USACE. Greater coordination is also needed between
the Federal Government and managers at the State, territorial, tribal,
and local levels, watershed groups, nongovernmental organizations,
private stakeholders, and the academic and research communities.
Solutions will also require a substantial financial investment and will
Reducing Point Sources of Pollution
Over the last few decades, great strides have been made in
controlling water pollution from point sources, although further
improvements could be realized through increased funding, strengthened
enforcement, and promotion of innovative approaches such as market-
based incentives. The Commission also addresses several specific point
sources of pollution, including wastewater treatment plants, sewer
system overflows, septic systems, industrial facilities, and animal
Increasing the Focus on Nonpoint Sources of Pollution
While considerable progress has been made in reducing point sources
of pollution, further progress toward improving coastal water quality
will require significant reductions in nonpoint sources as well. This
pollution occurs when rainfall and snowmelt carry pollutants over land,
into streams and groundwater, and down to coastal waters. Ninety
percent of impaired water bodies do not meet water quality standards at
least in part because of nonpoint source pollution. The majority of the
nonpoint source pollution entering rivers, estuaries, coastal waters,
and ultimately the oceans is from agricultural and stormwater runoff.
To address nonpoint source pollution, the NOC should establish
significant reduction of nonpoint source pollution in all impaired
coastal watersheds as a national goal, and set measurable objectives to
meet water quality standards. The nation has a number of opportunities
to reduce the impacts of nonpoint sources of pollution on coastal
waters. Because agricultural runoff contributes substantially to
nonpoint source pollution, USDA should align its conservation programs
and funding with other programs aimed at reducing nonpoint source
pollution, such as those of EPA and NOAA. Other opportunities for the
Nation to reduce nonpoint source pollution include coordination of
Federal nonpoint programs so they are mutually supportive, more
targeted and aggressive use of state revolving loan funds, broader
implementation of incentives and disincentives, and improved monitoring
to assess compliance and overall progress. State and local governments
also have important roles to play in land use planning and stormwater
Watersheds are often the appropriate geographic unit for addressing
water-related problems and collaborative watershed groups have had
significant successes in addressing nonpoint source pollution.
Therefore, the NOC and regional ocean councils should strengthen the
ability of collaborative watershed groups to address problems
associated with nonpoint source pollution by developing and
implementing strategies to provide them with adequate technical,
institutional, and financial support.
Addressing Atmospheric Sources of Pollution
Atmospheric deposition of pollutants can also harm water quality,
aquatic resources, and human health. To address atmospheric deposition,
EPA, States, and watershed groups should explore regional approaches
for managing atmospheric deposition, particularly when it affects water
bodies in states far from the source.
Creating a National Water Quality Monitoring Network
Pollution of the Nation's coastal waters has led to beach closures,
oxygen depletion, health impacts from toxic contamination, and many
other problems. Despite these threats to coastal waters, there is no
national network in place to monitor water quality changes and their
causes, facilitate estimates of their economic impact, and measure the
success of management efforts. Increased monitoring is needed not only
along the Nation's coasts, but also inland where pollutants make their
way downstream, ultimately impacting coastal waters. A national water
quality monitoring network is essential to support the move toward an
ecosystem-based management approach that considers human activities,
their benefits, and their potential impacts within the context of the
broader biological and physical environment. An essential step toward
controlling pollution will be to strengthen and coordinate monitoring
efforts to provide decisionmakers with necessary information.
A number of monitoring efforts are currently conducted by Federal
agencies, State governments, research institutions and academia,
nongovernmental organizations, and individual volunteers. Existing
monitoring programs vary in many respects, including sampling design
and intensity, parameters tested, analytical methodology, data
management protocols, and funding. Even when the same properties are
measured, different data management protocols may make the integration
of that information difficult. Consequently, while a number of
monitoring programs exist, they are not designed to support a
comprehensive and coordinated national monitoring network.
Ensuring Comprehensive, Coordinated Coverage
The nation's coastal margin is the most densely populated and
developed region of the nation, and its waters have been significantly
degraded by pollution. Yet in recent years, due largely to lack of
funding, monitoring has been extremely sparse along the coasts. Much
remains unknown about the status of coastal waters, and increased
monitoring will be required to make informed management decisions about
this economically and ecologically valuable region. Yet the close
connections between coastal and upstream waters dictate that any water
quality monitoring network must be national in scope. NOAA, EPA, and
USGS should lead the effort to develop a national water quality
monitoring network that coordinates existing and planned monitoring
efforts, including Federal, State, local, and private efforts. The
network should include a federally-funded backbone of critical stations
and measurements needed to assess long-term water quality trends and
Because of the inherent overlap between inland, coastal, and open-
ocean monitoring and observing, the national water quality monitoring
network should be closely linked with the Integrated Ocean Observing
System (IOOS) and ultimately with a broad Earth observing system. NOAA
should ensure that the water quality monitoring network includes
adequate coverage in both coastal areas and the upland areas that
affect them, and that the network is linked to the IOOS, to be
incorporated eventually into a comprehensive Earth observing system.
Creating an Effective Monitoring Network and Making Data Accessible and
In addition to coordinating existing monitoring efforts, an
effective national water quality monitoring network should have
specific goals and objectives, reflect user needs, and be helpful in
assessing the effectiveness of management approaches. The overall
system design should determine what and where to monitor, including
definition of a set of core variables. Technical expertise will be
needed to standardize procedures and establish quality control and data
management protocols. The network should be periodically assessed and
modified as necessary. Most important, the data collected through the
national monitoring network should be useful to managers and
stakeholders in evaluating management measures, determining best
management practices, and making continual improvements in reaching
ecosystem goals. This data should also be translated into timely and
useful information products that are readily accessible to decision
makers and the public. The design and implementation of the national
monitoring network will require not only Federal coordination, but also
significant input from the States.
Limiting Vessel Pollution and Improving Vessel Safety
The benefits from vessel activities are significant--ships carry
more than 95 percent of the Nation's overseas cargo--but these
operations also present safety, security and environmental risks that
must be effectively addressed.
Success in addressing these concerns will depend on a broad
domestic and international framework comprised of three key components.
The first component is a strong voluntary commitment on the part of
vessel owners and operators to build a workplace ethic that
incorporates safety, security, and environmental protection as
important and valued aspects of everyday vessel operations. Reliable
means of measuring the success of these efforts, as reflected in crew
and company performance, are essential and should include extensive use
of third-party audits. The U.S. Coast Guard, through incentives and
partnership programs, should encourage industry partners to develop
stronger voluntary measures, particularly those that reward crew member
contributions, as part of a continuing long-term effort that focuses on
building a culture of safety, security, and environmental compliance.
The second key component is effective oversight and control by the
primary vessel regulator, the vessel's flag state. Foreign flag
vessels, subject primarily to the jurisdiction and control of other
governments, carry more than 90 percent of international commercial
freight entering and departing the United States and account for 95
percent of passenger ships and 75 percent of cargo ships operating in
U.S. waters. Although many flag states take their responsibilities
seriously, oversight and enforcement vary dramatically. Over the past
decade, the International Maritime Organization has developed
guidelines to improve flag state oversight and enforcement. However,
implementation of these measures has met with mixed results. Mounting
international security concerns have made effective flag state
oversight and control more urgent today than ever before. The United
States should work with other nations to accelerate efforts at the
International Maritime Organization to enhance flag state oversight and
enforcement. Initiatives should include expeditious promulgation of a
code outlining flag state responsibilities, and development of a
mandatory external audit regime to evaluate performance and identify
areas where additional technical assistance can be used to best
The third key framework component is effective control over vessels
visiting U.S. ports. The Coast Guard currently carries out a port state
control program that allocates limited inspection resources to the
highest-risk vessels, based on an assessment of the vessel owner, flag
state, classification society, performance history, and vessel type.
Performance-based vessel inspections, while the most effective means of
verifying compliance, are resource intensive. These inspections have
played a critical role in identifying and correcting potential
problems, and in assessing the effectiveness of overall efforts to
improve safety and environmental compliance. Concerns have been
expressed in Congress and elsewhere about the adequacy of Coast Guard
resources to meet new security demands while fulfilling other important
responsibilities. Congress should provide the U.S. Coast Guard with the
resources necessary to sustain and strengthen the performance-based
inspection program for marine safety and environmental protection while
also meeting new vessel security inspection and other maritime security
requirements. In addition, the Coast Guard should work at the regional
and international levels to increase effective coordination and vessel
information sharing among concerned port states.
In addition to outlining a framework to address vessel safety,
security and environmental concerns, our report also recommends more
comprehensive approaches to address waste stream, oil and air pollution
from commercial and recreational vessels. Recommendations include:
establishing a uniform national regime to deal with cruise ship waste
streams; ratifying and working to strengthen MARPOL Annex V1 air
emission standards; developing comprehensive policy guidance and
contingency plans for vessels seeking places of refuge in the United
States; developing a long-term plan that identifies and addresses the
greatest risks associated with marine oil transportation systems; and
updating and accelerating efforts to reduce recreational vessel
pollution. We also place particular emphasis on the use of market-based
mechanisms and incentives to reduce pollution and encourage appropriate
Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species
The introduction of non-native marine organisms into ports, coastal
areas, and watersheds has damaged marine ecosystems around the world,
costing millions of dollars in remediation, monitoring, and ecosystem
damage. Invasive species policies are not keeping pace with the problem
primarily because of inadequate funding, a lack of coordination among
Federal agencies, redundant programs, and outdated technologies.
Making Prevention the First Line of Defense
The discharge of ballast water is considered a primary pathway for
introduction of non-native aquatic species. Exchanging ballast water in
the middle of the ocean to reduce the risk of transferring organisms
from one ecosystem to another is the primary management tool currently
available for ships to control the introduction of invasive species.
To better control the introduction of invasive species, the U.S.
Coast Guard's national ballast water management program should: apply
uniform, mandatory national standards; incorporate sound science in the
development of a biologically meaningful and enforceable ballast water
treatment standard; include a process for revising the standard to
incorporate new technologies; ensure full consultation with EPA; and
include an interagency review, through the NOC, of the policy for ships
that declare they have no ballast on board.
While ballast water is considered a primary pathway, there are also
other important ship-related sources of non-native aquatic species,
including ships' hulls, anchors, navigational buoys, drilling
platforms, and floating marine debris. Other pathways include
intentional and unintentional human introductions of fish and
shellfish, and illegally released organisms from the aquaculture,
aquarium, horticulture, and pet industries. There is increasing concern
that an expanding trade through the Internet and dealers of exotic pets
is exacerbating the invasive species problem.
To address these pathways of introduction, the NOC, working with
the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and the National Invasive
Species Council, should coordinate public education and outreach
efforts on aquatic invasive species, with the aim of increasing public
awareness about the importance of prevention.
Accelerating Detection and Response
Only the most draconian prevention strategy could hope to eliminate
all introductions of non-native species and thus prevent the
possibility of an invasion. Yet no effective mechanism is in place for
rapidly responding to newly discovered aquatic invasions when they do
occur. Therefore, the National Invasive Species Council and the Aquatic
Nuisance Species Task Force, working with other appropriate entities,
should establish a national plan for early detection of invasive
species and a system for prompt notification and rapid response.
Improving the Control of Invasive Species
As biological invasions continue, there is a pressing need to
improve the control of invasive species by reducing the overlaps and
redundancies caused by the involvement of so many agencies with
insufficient interagency coordination. The NOC should review and
streamline the current proliferation of Federal and regional programs
for managing marine invasive species, and coordinate Federal, regional
and State efforts.
The study of marine biological invasions is a relatively new
research area and little is understood about how or why certain species
become invasive, what pathways of introduction are most important, and
whether certain factors make an ecosystem more susceptible to
invasions. To better understand marine biological invasions, the NOC
should coordinate the development and implementation of an interagency
plan for research and monitoring to understand and prevent aquatic
Reducing Marine Debris
The trash and other waste that drifts around the global ocean and
washes up on the Nation's shores poses a serious threat to fishery
resources, wildlife, and habitat, as well as human health and safety.
Approximately 80 percent of debris is washed off the land, blown by
winds, or intentionally dumped from shore, while 20 percent comes from
vessels and offshore platforms.
NOAA currently addresses marine debris as a part of several other
efforts, but there is a need to coordinate, strengthen, and increase
the visibility of the marine debris efforts within NOAA by creating a
centralized marine debris program within the agency. This program
should be coordinated with EPA's marine debris activities, as well as
with the significant efforts conducted by private citizens, state,
local, and nongovernmental organizations.
Although strengthening NOAA's work on marine debris through
establishment of an office within the agency is an important step, an
interagency committee under the NOC is needed to unite all appropriate
Federal agencies around the issue. Such a committee could support
existing marine debris efforts by agencies and nongovernmental
organizations, and should expand and better coordinate national and
international marine debris efforts, including: public outreach and
education; partnerships with state and local governments, community
groups, nongovernmental organizations, and industry; and monitoring,
identification and research.
Eliminating Derelict Fishing Gear
Whether intentionally discarded or unintentionally lost during
storms or fishing operations, derelict fishing gear poses serious
threats, entrapping marine life, destroying coral reefs and other
habitat, and even posing danger to humans. Although derelict fishing
gear is a worldwide problem, currently no international treaties or
plans of action address it. A strong need exists for the U.S.
Department of State and NOAA, working with the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization, to develop a plan of action to address
derelict fishing gear, to be implemented on a regional, multi-national
basis. In addition, within the United States, a public-private
partnership program is needed to prevent, remove, and dispose of
derelict fishing gear.
Ensuring Appropriate Port Reception Facilities
Under requirements for port reception facilities in Annex V of
MARPOL, member nations must provide waste disposal facilities in their
ports to receive waste from ships. Despite this requirement, many ports
do not have adequate facilities. In addition, Annex V calls for the
designation of Special Areas that receive a higher level of protection
than is required in other ocean areas. Special Areas have been
designated for many parts of the world, however, for a Special Area to
receive extra protection, there must first be a demonstration of
adequate port reception facilities. Some important Special Areas, such
as the Wider Caribbean, are not yet eligible to receive extra
protection because of inadequate port reception facilities. Therefore,
the U.S. Department of State should increase efforts to ensure that all
port reception facilities meet the criteria necessary to allow
implementation of Special Areas protections.
Enhancing the Use and Protection of Ocean Resources
The ocean's biological and mineral resources are of enormous value
to the nation, not only for their direct economic output, but also for
their incalculable aesthetic importance.
The commercial fishing industry's total value exceeds $28 billion
annually, with the recreational saltwater fishing industry valued at
around $20 billion. NOAA estimates that U.S. coral reefs cover
approximately 7,600 square miles. In 2001, coral reefs in the Florida
Keys alone supported $105 million in income and more than 8,000 jobs.
Further, approximately one-half of all federally-managed commercial
fish species depend on coral reefs for at least part of their life
cycle. Currently, energy development in Federal waters accounts for
more than 30 percent of domestic oil production and 25 percent of
natural gas, with a total annual value of between $25--$40 billion, and
a contribution of about $5 billion in royalties to the U.S. Treasury.
In order to provide for sustainable use, management needs to be
strengthened in a broader context that looks at impacts of management
decisions on the ecosystem as a whole.
The last 30 years has seen the evolution of an industry from being
largely unregulated but with seemingly boundless potential, to one that
is highly regulated and struggling to regain its potential as we move
toward a sustainable, ecosystem-based fisheries management regime.
In 1976, based in part on the recommendations of the Stratton
Commission, Congress approved the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
and Management Act to manage and assert U.S. control over fishery
resources within 200 nautical miles of the coast. Eight Regional
Fishery Management Councils (RFMCs) were created to develop management
plans for fisheries in Federal waters. The Act required regional plans
to be consistent with broad national guidelines, but otherwise granted
considerable flexibility to the RFMCs. The regional flexibility that
had been seen as a great strength of the new law now showed its
downside as some RFMCs set unsustainable harvest levels, leading to the
collapse or near-collapse of several important fisheries.
In the over 30 years since the Stratton report, some fishery
management bodies have revealed fundamental weaknesses in the system
that led to overexploited stocks and ecosystem degradation in some
regions. However, the management practices in some regions,
particularly the North Pacific, protected fisheries from
overexploitation and served as a model for many of the Commission's
fisheries recommendations. The Commission fishery recommendations can
be grouped into six areas: strengthening the link between science and
management, clarifying jurisdiction representation, expanding the use
of dedicated access privileges, improving enforcement, and
strengthening international management.
The link between fishery management decisions and peer-reviewed
scientific info must be strengthened, including developing an expanded
research program that is more responsive to managers' needs. To
accomplish this, a number of management improvements are needed. RFMCs
should be required to rely on the advice of their Scientific and
Statistical Committees (SSCs), especially when setting harvest levels.
RFMCs should not be allowed to approve measures less conservative than
recommended by the SSC. SSC members should be nominated by the RFMCs
and appointed by the NOAA Administrator. To ensure that SSC members are
of the highest quality, their credentials and potential conflicts of
interest should be reviewed by an external organization. To ensure
sufficient external review of the scientific advice of the SSCs, NOAA
should develop a standardized, independent peer-review process for
implementation by all RFMCs. To ensure that needed conservation
measures are implemented in a timely manner, default measures should be
developed that would go into effect with a lack of action on the part
of the RFMCs. Finally, to ensure that manager's have the information
they require, NOAA's process for developing research plans should
incorporate manager's priorities to the extent practicable. An expanded
cooperative research program and increased emphasis on in-season
recreational fishery data collection should be an important component
of this effort.
Responsibilities and jurisdiction of the various Federal and
interstate fishery management entities need to be clarified, and the
representation on the Federal regional fishery management councils need
to be broadened. To ensure that jurisdictional confusion does not lead
to delaying conservation measures, Congress should assign a lead
management authority among the various Federal and interstate
management authorities, based primarily on proportion of catch
occurring within each entities jurisdiction. To ensure that the RFMCs
have appropriate representation, particularly as we move toward
ecosystem-based management, the governors should be required to submit
a broader slate of candidates to be appointed by the NOAA
Administrator. To ensure that RFMCs members have the necessary
knowledge to properly manage fisheries, members should be required to
take a training course. Finally, to ensure that all interstate fishery
commissions have the necessary means to manage the fisheries under
their jurisdiction, Congress should grant authority similar to the
Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act to the Gulf and
Pacific States Commissions.
To reverse existing incentives that create an unsustainable ``race
for the fish,'' fishery managers should explore widespread adoption of
dedicated access privileges to promote conservation and help reduce
overcapitalization. Congress should amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act to affirm that fishery managers are
authorized to institute dedicated access privileges, subject to meeting
national guidelines; and every Federal, interstate, and State fishery
management entity should consider the potential benefits of adopting
dedicated access programs. In addition, Congress should directly
address overcapitalization by revising Federal programs that subsidize
overcapitalization, as well as work with NOAA to develop programs that
permanently address overcapitalization in fisheries.
Fishery enforcement must be improved through adoption of better
technology, such as Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) and better
cooperation among Federal agencies and States. Funding should be
increased for Joint Enforcement Agreements between NOAA's National
Marine Fisheries Service and coastal states as the best method of
restoring the enforcement presence of the Coast Guard diminished
because of the increased need for maritime security following the 9/11
terrorist attacks. The expanded use of VMS is another cost effective
way of increasing enforcement capabilities.
Fishery management needs to continue the move toward ecosystem-
based management in order to improve management, reduce conflicts
between socio-economic impacts and biological sustainability, and
provide a proper forum to address difficult management issues. In
particular, issues such as habitat damage and bycatch should be
approached from an ecosystem basis and management plans should be
designed to reduce impacts from these factors.
Because many of the stocks targeted by U.S. fishermen traverse
international waters, it will be impossible to conserve some stocks
without the aid of other countries. In addition, many endangered
species such as sea turtles and whales travel the high seas. To promote
international cooperation to conserve living marine resources, the
Commission makes the following recommendations. The U.S. should work to
encourage other countries to adopt and enforce existing international
agreements to promote worldwide adoption of sustainable fisheries
practices, in particular the Fish Stocks Agreement and the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Compliance Agreement. The
National Ocean Council should recommend effective methods to promote
adoption of other important international conservation agreements, such
as the Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries. In addition, the
United States should continue to press for the inclusion of
environmental objectives--particularly those specified in international
environmental agreements--as legitimate elements of trade policy.
Marine Mammals and Endangered Species
Because of their intelligence, visibility and frequent interactions
with humans, marine mammals hold a special place in the minds of most
people and are afforded a higher level of protection than fish or other
marine organisms. The American public has also consistently been
supportive of efforts to prevent species from becoming endangered or
extinct from human-caused activities. Because of the concern that the
American public has shown for marine mammals and endangered species,
specific legislation was enacted to provide them greater protection.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act are
landmark laws that have protected marine mammals and populations in
danger of extinction since their passage. However, both Acts need to
move toward a more ecosystem-based regime to improve protections for
The biggest threat to marine mammals worldwide today is their
accidental capture or entanglement in fishing gear (known as
``bycatch''), killing hundreds of thousands of animals a year.
Commercial harvesting contributed to major declines in the populations
of marine mammals but only a few nations still allow hunting for
purposes other than subsistence. Hunters from those nations continue to
kill hundreds of thousands of seals, whales, dolphins, and other marine
mammals each year while legal subsistence hunting accounts for
thousands more. Other potential causes of death and injury to marine
mammals, such as ships strikes, pollution and toxic substances, and
noise from ships and sonar, cause many fewer deaths than bycatch and
The threats to endangered marine species such as sea turtles and
sea birds are myriad and not easily categorized. One factor that is
common to declines in many species is the destruction or degradation of
their natural habitat. Thus the successful recovery of a species
depends to a large degree on protection or restoration of this habitat.
One of the critical components to improving protections for
protected species is expanding the knowledge base. We know very little
about the basic biology for these species, particularly marine mammals.
The lack of basic scientific information has perhaps contributed to the
frequent mismatch between causes of impacts to marine mammal
populations and the amount of management attention paid to them. For
example, the top two impacts to marine mammals by orders of magnitude
are bycatch and hunting, yet most recent attention is being paid to
other causes. Under ecosystem-based management, the most critical
impacts should be addressed first. However, our overwhelming lack of
knowledge of marine mammal and endangered species makes it difficult to
properly rank and address impacts to these species. As the foundation
to improving management, the Commission recommends an expanded
research, technology, and engineering program, coordinated through the
National Ocean Council, to examine and mitigate the effects of human
activities on marine mammals and endangered species. In particular,
Congress should expand Federal funding for research into ocean
acoustics and the potential impacts of noise on marine mammals. The
U.S. should increase efforts to extend the benefits of the expanded
research program to other countries.
Another important component to improving protections for protected
species will be to clarify and coordinate Federal agency actions. The
Commission recommends that jurisdiction for marine mammals be
consolidated within NOAA, and that the NOC improve coordination between
NOAA and the Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to the
implementation of the Endangered Species Act, particularly for
anadromous species or when land-based activities have significant
impacts on marine species.
The MMPA, with limited exceptions, prohibits the hunting, killing,
or harassment of marine mammals. One of the exceptions authorizes the
issuance of permits for the unintentional and incidental taking of
small numbers of marine mammals provided it has only a negligible
impact on the species. This provision has been problematic because
terms such as small numbers and negligible impact are not defined in
the Act, resulting in a lack of clarity about when a permit is
necessary and under what circumstances it should be granted. Congress
should amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to require the NOAA to
more clearly specify categories of activities that are allowed without
a permit, those that require a permit, and those that are prohibited.
Specifically, Congress should amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to
revise the definition of harassment to cover only activities that
meaningfully disrupt behaviors that are significant to the survival and
reproduction of marine mammals.
As an adjunct to clarifying allowed and permitted activities, the
permitting process itself should be streamlined. Specifically,
programmatic permitting should be used where possible to simplify
Tropical and deepwater coral communities are among the oldest and
most diverse ecosystems, rivaling tropical rainforests in biodiversity
and economic value. But, tropical coral reef health is rapidly
declining, with pristine reefs being rare or nonexistent and possibly
one-third of the world's reefs severely damaged. The existing
management structure is inadequate and agencies and laws overseeing
coral reef management have made little progress in actually protecting
corals. Immediate action is needed to avoid irreversible harm.
In the short-term, the Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) should be
strengthened by placing it under the NOC, and adding the U.S.
Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The
strengthened CRTF should begin immediate development of actions to
reverse impacts of coastal pollution and fishing on coral communities.
The EPA and USDA, at the minimum, should be charged with implementing
the coastal pollution reduction plan and NOAA should be charged with
implementing the plan for reversing impacts from fishing. In addition,
the CRTF's area of responsibility should be expanded to include
deepwater coral communities as well.
In the long-term, the Congress should enact a ``Coral Protection
and Management Act'' that provides direct authority to protect and
manage corals, and provides a framework for research and cooperation
with international protections efforts. This legislation should include
the following elements: support for mapping, monitoring, and research
programs; support for new research and assessment activities to fill
critical information gaps; liability provisions for damages to coral
reefs similar to those in the Marine Protection, Research, and
Sanctuaries Act; support for outreach activities to educate the public
about coral conservation and reduce human impacts; and, support for
U.S. involvement, particularly through the sharing of scientific and
management expertise, in bilateral, regional, and international coral
reef management programs.
As the world's largest importer of ornamental coral reef resources,
the United States has a particular responsibility to help eliminate
destructive harvesting practices and ensure the sustainable use of
these resources. Many of these resources are harvested by methods that
destroy reefs and overexploit ornamental species. A balance is needed
between sustaining the legitimate trade in ornamental resources and
sustaining the health and survival of the world's coral reef resources.
The U.S. should develop domestic standards for the importation of coral
species, to ensure that U.S. citizens do not indirectly promote
unsustainable practices in coral harvesting countries.
Marine aquaculture has the potential to supply part of the ever
increasing domestic and worldwide demand for seafood. However, there
are two major concerns that need to be addressed: environmental
problems with existing aquaculture operations, particularly net-pen
facilities, and a confusing, inconsistent array of State and Federal
regulations that hinder private sector investment.
To oversee a comprehensive and environmentally sound management
regime, Congress should amend the National Aquaculture Act to designate
NOAA as the lead Federal agency for implementing a national policy for
environmentally and economically sustainable marine aquaculture and
create an Office of Sustainable Marine Aquaculture in NOAA.
This new NOAA office should develop a single, multi-agency Federal
permit for the aquaculture industry and ensure aquaculture facilities
meet State and national environmental standards to lessen impacts from
escapement and disease and protect the sustainability and diversity of
Furthermore, the permitting and leasing system and implementing
regulations should: reflect a balance between economic and
environmental objectives consistent with national and regional goals;
be coordinated with guidelines and regulations developed at the State
level; include a system for the assessment and collection of a
reasonable portion of the resource rent generated from marine
aquaculture projects that use ocean resources held in public trust;
require applicants to post a bond to ensure that any later performance
problems will be remedied and that abandoned facilities will be safely
removed at no additional cost to the taxpayers; and, require the
development, dissemination, and adoption by industry of best management
practices that are adaptable to new research and technology advances.
Enhanced investments in research, demonstration projects, and
technical assistance can help the industry address environmental
issues, conduct risk assessments, develop technology, select species,
and improve best management practices. It is also vital for developing
fair and reasonable policies, regulations, and management measures.
Most of the Federal research to support marine aquaculture has been
carried out under the auspices of NOAA's National Sea Grant College
Program, which funds primarily university-based research. Congress
should increase funding for expanded marine aquaculture research,
development, training, extension, and technology transfer programs in
NOAA. The Office of Sustainable Marine Aquaculture should set
priorities for the research and technology programs, in close
collaboration with academic, business, and other stakeholders.
Because the U.S. market for seafood is one of the largest in the
world, we can use our market power as a positive force for promoting
sustainable, environmentally sound aquaculture practices not only in
the U.S., but the world as well. The U.S. should work to ensure that
all countries adhere to aquaculture standards such as are in the UN FAO
Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Oceans and Human Health
Beneficial and harmful links between human health and ocean health
exist. While several important medical treatments are based on
chemicals discovered in marine animals, increasingly common phenomena
such as harmful algal blooms have demonstrated ability to negatively
impact human health. The health of marine ecosystems is affected by
human activities such as pollution, global warming, and fishing. But in
addition, human health depends on thriving ocean ecosystems. A better
understanding about the many ways marine organisms affect human health,
both for good by providing drugs and bioproducts, and for bad by
causing human ailments, is needed.
Congress should establish an oceans and human health initiative to
create a competitive grant program and coordinate Federal activities.
Existing programs at NOAA, NSF and the National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences should be coalesced in this initiative.
This initiative should be expanded to include other pertinent agencies
such as the EPA and FDA.
New knowledge and technologies are needed to detect and mitigate
microbial pathogens. These methods must be quick and accurate so that
information can be communicated to resource managers and the coastal
community in a timely manner. As they are developed, technologies need
to be integrated into biological and biochemical sensors that can
continuously monitor high-risk sites. It is important that site-
specific sensor data and satellite sensor data be incorporated into the
IOOS. To accomplish this task, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, National Science Foundation, National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences, and other appropriate entities should
support the development and implementation of improved methods for
monitoring and identifying pathogens and chemical toxins in ocean
waters and organisms.
Offshore Energy and Mineral Resources
Oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
provides over a quarter of our domestic oil and gas reserves, and
contributes thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to our economy.
In addition to its responsibilities for living marine resources, the
Federal Government also exercises jurisdiction over nonliving
resources, energy and other minerals located in the waters and seabed
of the more than 1.7 billion acres of OCS. Offshore oil and gas
development has the most mature and broadest management structure of
all such resources. Although controversial in many areas, the process
for oil and gas leasing and production is well institutionalized,
reasonably comprehensive, and could be a model for new ocean-based
renewable energy projects as part of a coordinated offshore management
MMS's Environmental Studies Program (ESP) is a major source of
information about the impacts of OCS oil and gas activities on the
human, marine, and coastal environments. Since 1986, annual funding for
the program has decreased, in real dollars, from a high of $56 million
to approximately $18 million in 2003. The erosion in ESP funding has
occurred at a time when more and better information, not less, is
needed. There continues to be a need to better understand the
cumulative and long-term impacts of OCS oil and gas development,
especially in the area of low levels of persistent organic and
inorganic chemicals, and their cumulative or synergistic effects.
The U.S. Department of the Interior should reverse recent budgetary
trends and increase funding for the Minerals Management Service's
Environmental Studies Program. The development of technologies and
exploratory activities moving into very deep waters requires an
increase in the MMS environmental studies program to keep track of new
and emerging environmental issues. In addition to this program, the
development of the IOOS could provide better information that can
improve management of offshore resources. Industry and Federal agency
partnerships should allow use of industry facilities to be incorporated
into the IOOS.
To make certain that the Federal-State partnership is strengthened
and that critical marine ecosystems are protected, more investment of
the resource rents generated from OCS energy leasing and production
into the sustainability of ocean and coastal resources is necessary.
Specifically, some portion of the revenues received by the Federal
Government annually for the leasing and extraction of nonrenewable
offshore resources need to be allocated to all coastal states for
programs and efforts to enhance the conservation and sustainable
development of renewable ocean and coastal resources. Congress should
ensure that revenues received from leasing and extraction of oil and
gas and other new offshore uses are used to promote sustainable
development of renewable ocean and coastal resources through creation
of a grant program to all coastal states, with a larger share going to
OCS producing States.
Conventional oil and gas are not the only fossil-based fuel sources
located beneath ocean floors. Methane hydrates are solid, ice-like
structures composed of water and natural gas. They occur naturally in
areas of the world where methane and water can combine at appropriate
conditions of temperature and pressure, such as in thick sediments of
deep ocean basins, at water depths greater than 500 meters. The
estimated amount of natural gas in the gas hydrate accumulations of the
world greatly exceeds the volume of all known conventional gas
resources. Conservative estimates reveal the quantity is enough to
supply all of the Nation's energy needs for more than 2,000 years at
current rates of use. However, there is still no known practical and
safe way to develop the gas and it is clear that much more information
is needed to determine if methane hydrates can become a commercially
viable and environmentally acceptable source of energy. The National
Ocean Council (NOC), working with the U.S. Department of Energy and
other appropriate entities, should determine whether methane hydrates
can contribute significantly to meeting the Nation's long-term energy
needs. If such contribution looks promising, the NOC should determine
how much the current investment in research and development efforts
should be increased.
There is continued interest in offshore renewable technologies as a
means of reducing U.S. reliance on potentially unstable supplies of
foreign oil, diversifying the Nation's energy mix, and providing more
environmentally benign sources of energy. As long as Federal agencies
are forced to bootstrap their authorities to address these activities,
the Nation runs the risk of unresolved conflicts, unnecessary delays,
and uncertain procedures. What is urgently needed is a comprehensive
offshore management regime, developed by the National Ocean Council,
which is designed to review all offshore uses in a greater planning
context. A coherent and predictable Federal management process for
offshore renewable resources that is able to weigh the benefits to the
Nation's energy future against the potential adverse effects on other
ocean users, marine life, and the ocean's natural processes, should be
fully integrated into the broader management regime. Congress, with
input from the National Ocean Council, should enact legislation
providing for the comprehensive management of offshore renewable energy
development as part of a coordinated offshore management regime.
Specifically, this legislation should: streamline the process for
licensing, leasing, and permitting renewable energy facilities in U.S.
waters; subsume existing statutes, such as the Ocean Thermal Energy
Conversion Act, and should be based on the premise that the oceans are
a public resource; and, ensure that the public receives a fair return
from the use of that resource and development rights are allocated
through an open, transparent process that takes into account State,
local, and public concerns.
Advancing International Ocean and Science Policy
The United States has traditionally been a leader in international
ocean policymaking and has participated in the development of many
international agreements that govern the world's ocean areas and
resources. That leadership must be maintained and reinvigorated. The
international ocean challenges of the 21st century will require
improved collaboration among domestic and international policymakers to
establish ambitious objectives and take the actions necessary to
The United States can best advance its own ocean interests and
positively contribute to the health of the world's oceans by first
ensuring that U.S. domestic policies and actions embody exemplary
standards of wise, sustainable ocean management. The new national ocean
policy framework will be instrumental in setting this positive tone for
the international ocean community. The Commission also recommends
several specific actions to maintain and reinvigorate the leadership of
U.S. in global ocean issues:
U.S. Accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on
the Law of the Sea--the preeminent legal framework for addressing
international ocean issues. Until that step is taken, the Nation will
not be able to fully participate in bodies established under the
Convention that make decisions on issues of importance to all coastal
and seafaring nations, or to assume its important leadership role and
protect United States interests as the law of the sea evolves.
Enhanced Coordination Among U.S. Ocean-Related Federal Agencies
Within the U.S. Government, the U.S. Department of State is the
lead agency for most ocean-related international negotiations. However,
the role of more specialized agencies is extremely important due to the
science and resource focus of many multilateral ocean issues.
Consistent involvement of a wide range of experts is essential both to
establish international standards that reflect U.S. interests, and to
ensure that subsequent actions by the United States and others are in
accordance with those standards.
A new mechanism is needed to provide the optimum degree of
coordination among U.S. agencies sharing responsibility and knowledge
of international ocean issues. An interagency committee should be
established under the auspices of the National Ocean Council to enhance
coordination and collaboration among U.S. Government agencies,
strengthening U.S. performance at international negotiations and
improving implementation of international ocean policy.
Successful national and international ocean policy depends on sound
scientific information. It is essential, therefore, to ensure that U.S.
policymakers benefit from timely advice and guidance from the U.S.
marine scientific community. This, in turn, requires procedures that
both give scientists the opportunity to provide input and policy makers
the chance to carefully consider their recommendations. The State
Department should increase its internal training and scientific support
to ensure better integration of ocean-related scientific expertise in
policy and program development and implementation. In addition, the
Department should develop more effective mechanisms to facilitate input
from other government agencies and the broader scientific community.
Building International Capacity in Ocean Science and Management
Implementation of international ocean policy and improved
management of ocean and coastal resources worldwide are affected by the
adequacy of the science and management capacity of every coastal
nation. To maintain progress on a global scale, the United States and
other capable nations must assist coastal nations of more limited
means. To be most effective, assistance should be science-based and
developed within the context of an ecosystem-based approach. The U.S.
Department of State should offer strong support for U.S. scientists
conducting research programs around the world. Existing international
partnerships should be strengthened and new partnerships promoted to
facilitate the conduct of international research.
Capacity-building efforts should be concentrated on issues that
have been identified as particularly critical for the health of an
ecosystem or marine species, and have the greatest potential for
positive impacts. In most instances, effective capacity-building will
require long-term efforts to change detrimental practices and build
support for new, sustainable management approaches. These efforts will
require a funding commitment sufficient to make the changes needed to
preserve or rebuild healthy ecosystems. As part of its international
leadership role, the United States should increase its efforts to
enhance long-term ocean science and management capacity in other
nations through funding, education and training, technical assistance,
and sharing best practices, management techniques, and lessons learned.
Implementing a New National Ocean Policy
To implement the blueprint for a new national ocean policy outlined
in our report, several key elements are required: the will to move
forward, the actors to carry out the changes, and the resources to
support sustainable management of our oceans and coasts. Congress and
the President have already demonstrated political will by enacting the
Oceans Act of 2000 and appointing the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
Our preliminary report specifies who should carry out each
recommendation and discusses what the costs will be and how they can be
Who Should Take Action
In our report, we make 198 specific recommendations to implement a
more coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy. One of our
goals was to ensure that every recommendation was aimed at a clear
responsible party who could take action and be held accountable over
time. As you read the report, you will see the recommendations grouped
according to subject area. However, to highlight the assignment of
responsibility, we also present a summary of all 198 recommendations,
organized by the primary actors, in Chapter 31.
We include 54 recommendations for Congress, 69 for Executive
Branch leaders, and 125 for Federal Government agencies.
Of the 69 recommendations for Executive Branch leaders, 8
recommendations are for the President, 45 for the new National
Ocean Council, 13 for the offices under the NOC's Committee on
Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and Operations, 2 for the
Assistant to the President, and 1 for the Presidential Council
of Advisors on Ocean Policy.
Of the 125 recommendations aimed at Federal Government
agencies, 44 are for NOAA, 20 for EPA, 10 for the U.S. Coast
Guard, 9 for NSF, 9 for the Department of the Interior, 8 for
the U.S. Navy, 8 for the Department of State, 6 for the
Department of Transportation, 5 for NASA, 3 for the National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2 for the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, 2 for the Department of Agriculture, and 1
for the Department of Labor.
(Note that some recommendations include more than one actor. As a
result, the breakdown by organization adds up to more than 198.)
Although we have avoided targeting States (and local, territorial,
and tribal governments) as the primary actors in our recommendations,
they have a critically important role to play in the new National Ocean
Policy Framework--through establishment of regional ocean councils, and
in areas such as coastal development, water quality, education, natural
hazards planning, fishery management, habitat conservation, and much
more. States should also participate in the design and implementation
of regional ocean observing systems and their integration into the
national IOOS, as well as other research and monitoring activities.
How Can the Needed Changes be Achieved: Costs and Revenues
The recommendations I've just alluded to outline a series of
ambitious proposals for improving the use and protection of the
Nation's oceans and coasts. But meaningful change requires meaningful
investments. In the case of the ocean, such investments are easy to
As I explained earlier and as we discuss in more detail in the
preliminary report, more than one trillion dollars, or one-tenth of the
Nation's annual gross domestic product, is generated each year within
communities immediately adjacent to the coast. By including the
economic contribution from all coastal watershed counties, that number
jumps to around five trillion dollars, or fully one half of our
Nation's economy. Those contributions are threatened by continued
degradation of ocean and coastal environments and resources.
Modest levels of new funding will reap substantial dividends by
supporting new management strategies to sustain our ocean and coastal
resources and maximize their long-term value.
From the start, this Commission pledged to be clear about the costs
of its recommendations. In keeping with that goal, the final report
will include a complete accounting of the startup, short-term, and
continuing costs associated with each issue area, including an analysis
of Federal, State, and local budget implications to the extent
At this stage, I am able to provide a rough estimate of overall new
Federal spending associated with the Commission's preliminary
recommendations. The Commission continues to refine its calculations
and the information on which they are based, and will have more
detailed costs and revenue estimates in the final report to the
Congress and the President.
The total estimated additional cost for initiatives outlined in our
report will be approximately:
$1.2 billion in the first year
$2.4 billion in the second year
$3.2 billion per year in ongoing costs thereafter
A few special investments are worth highlighting:
Creation of the National Ocean Council and related elements,
with first-year costs of $1 million and ongoing annual costs of
Expansion of ocean education programs, with first-year costs
of $7 million, second year costs of $251 million, and ongoing
annual costs of $246 million.
Establishment of an integrated ocean observing system, with
first-year costs of $290 million, second-year costs of $312
million, and ongoing annual costs of $652 million.
Increased ocean science and exploration, with first-year
costs of $230 million, second-year costs of $395 million, and
ongoing annual costs of $760 million.
Dedicated Federal support for needed State actions, with
first-year costs of $500 million, second-year costs of $750
million, and ongoing annual costs of $1 billion.
In view of the value generated by the ocean and coastal economy, we
believe these are very reasonable investments.
Revenue: Creation of an Ocean Policy Trust Fund
Mindful of intense budgetary pressures at both Federal and State
levels--and sensitive to the hardship associated with unfunded Federal
mandates--the Commission set out to identify appropriate sources of
revenue to cover the cost of its recommendations. A logical,
responsible funding strategy is outlined in the preliminary report and
will be developed further in the final report.
The Commission proposes creation of an Ocean Policy Trust Fund
composed of rents generated from permitted uses in Federal waters. The
Fund would include Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas revenues that
are not currently committed. It would support the additional
responsibilities we suggest for Federal agencies and prevent the
creation of unfunded mandates to states.
The critical nature of the Nation's oceans assets and the
challenges faced in managing them make it clear that the time has come
to establish an Ocean Policy Trust Fund in the U.S. Treasury to assist
Federal agencies and State governments in carrying out the
comprehensive ocean policy recommended by this Commission.
The Fund would include Federal revenues from Outer Continental
Shelf oil and gas development that are not currently committed to other
funds. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, the National Historic
Preservation Fund, and the OCS oil and gas revenues given to coastal
states from the three mile area seaward of their submerged lands would
not be affected. After those programs were funded, in accordance with
law, the remaining OCS monies would be deposited into the Ocean Policy
Additional funds may also become available based on new offshore
activities. In several sections of the preliminary report we discuss
revenues that may be generated from permitted uses of Federal waters.
In general, when a resource is publicly-owned, its use by private
profit-making entities should be contingent on a reasonable return to
taxpayers. Creating a link between permitted activities in Federal
waters and the cost of associated regulatory and management
responsibilities is logical and well justified by precedents in Federal
Approximately $5 billion is generated annually from OCS oil and gas
revenues. Protecting the three programs noted above would remove about
$1 billion. Thus, some $4 billion would remain available for the Ocean
Policy Trust Fund each year under current projections. At this time it
is not possible to specify the amount of revenue that might be produced
by emerging uses in Federal waters, nor predict when they may begin to
The report recommends that a portion of the revenues received from
the use of offshore resources be granted to States for the conservation
and sustainable development of renewable ocean and coastal resources.
OCS oil and gas producing States should receive a larger portion of
such revenues to address the impacts on their States from extraction
activities in adjacent Federal offshore waters.
In the Commission's view, Trust Fund monies should be used
exclusively to support improved ocean and coastal management consistent
with the Nation's new coordinated and comprehensive national ocean
policy. Such funds would be used to supplement--not replace--existing
appropriations for ocean and coastal programs, and to fund new or
What I have presented to you today is a broad overview of the
Commission's preliminary report--the culmination of two and a half
years of work by 16 dedicated commissioners, 26 world-class science
advisors, and a tireless staff of experts. To create this report, the
Commission heard testimony and collected other information that shaped
our understanding of the most pressing issues facing our Nation's
oceans and coasts.
The Commission balanced environmental, technical, economic, and
scientific factors in making its recommendations. These bold
recommendations for reform call for immediate implementation, while it
is still possible to reverse distressing declines, seize exciting
opportunities, and sustain the oceans and their valuable assets for
future generations. Clearly, the Commission's recommendations will
require some new investments. However, without major change, the
tremendous potential of our oceans and coasts to American prosperity
will continue to deteriorate.
It has taken more than 35 years for the Nation to refocus its
attention on these vital resources. Our report provides a blueprint for
the 21st century to achieve a future where our oceans and coasts are
clean, safe, and sustainably managed and continue to contribute
significantly to the well being of all the Nation's citizens. The time
to act is now and everyone who cares about the oceans and coasts must
play a part. Leadership from this Committee and others in Congress, and
from the White House, will be essential and we look forward to working
closely with all of you in the months and years to come.
The Chairman. Thank you, Admiral Watkins. Senator Stevens
is required to go to another meeting and he'd like to make a
comment or ask a question and we'd like to recognize him.
Senator Stevens. I just want to make a statement. We do
have a hearing at 2 p.m. on the financial aspects of this
proposal, all of the recommendations. It will be, I hope, we
want to confine that to the requirements for financing for the
future to carry out your recommendations, so I look forward to
seeing you at 2 p.m. That hearing's in room 138 of the Dirksen
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Stevens. So you're going
to have a full day today.
Senator Stevens. Well, that's so they can go home tonight.
The Chairman. Again, I want to thank you and members of the
Commission. In the course of our questions by the members, if
any of the members of the Commission choose to add or would
like to respond, or Admiral, if you feel that one of the
commissioners is qualified, might add something, please call on
them. I've never known you to need to call on anyone, but
perhaps this will be different.
Admiral Watkins. Are you saying I talk too much, Mr.
The Chairman. No, sir. Admiral, I'd like you and any other
member of the Commission to talk about climate change.
Obviously in the report you talk about the potential of climate
change to significantly alter the distribution of
microorganisms in the oceans. We had a hearing not long ago
where one of the witnesses talked about the Great Barrier Reef
dying. I'm a frequent swimmer and diver and I believe in
various parts of the world I've seen massive impact of climate
change. Senator Stevens, who just left, knows very well the
effect on Native Alaskan villages because of increasing water
I would just like a general assessment of how serious the
problem is, and I'd be glad to hear from any of the other
commissioners as well, and about how urgent it is that we take
some kind of action and what action that might be. Thank you.
Admiral Watkins. Mr. Chairman, I was Secretary of Energy at
the time that the Nation was preparing for its first meeting on
sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro. I thought our
preparations were very poor. I don't think the United States
came out with their head high in a leadership role. And one of
the problems was that we didn't have a scientific, science and
technology component to advocacy. We had an advocacy stream
only pushing things, and we have rejected everything so far
rather than trying to come to a common approach internationally
on collaborative research to understand the oceans, and I think
it's time to do that.
And the climate change issue is powerful enough to drive
some of these recommendations we make all by itself. And the
way the Commission has approached this is we've noted
throughout our report that climate change impacts every topic
in our report--from health and safety of humans, health of
environment, fisheries, distribution of marine organisms,
And as you know, just a one to two degree increase in
surface water temperature off Bangladesh, all the research
studies have shown the direct proportion of that to malaria
ashore, and we've seen it during the El Nino events in Africa,
what happens there, droughts and floods and so forth. We can
predict those things to some reasonable percent of accuracy if
we get on with an observing system that makes some sense, and
of course, we put a lot of strength on that in our report.
We discuss the importance of the Integrated Ocean Observing
System in the opening remarks, talking about its component of
the Earth-observing system, which has to be brought together.
And I think if the United States takes a leadership role in
this area, it will be doing something great for mankind in
addition to doing something great for our own country.
So we believe very strongly that we have to have real time
monitoring, we have to have real time assessment of what's
going on out there, and the most complicated area of all the
Integrated Ocean Observing Systems is the coastal component,
which we have not invested in much in recent years. When the
Russians went away, so did the interest, and that was deep
ocean. So now we've got a real challenge on our hands to recoup
some of the losses we could have had with a greater investment.
The Chairman. Could I ask again, Admiral, how serious do
you think the problem is?
Admiral Watkins. I think it's a serious problem. I think if
you want to have a gut grabber, read the Abrupt Climate Change
Report coming out of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
recently. The 40 percent loss of ice depth in the Arctic is
significant. The freshening of that water could well change the
entire ocean circulation flow because of the salinity changes,
and so those things--and they've happened in times past. The
coring of the ice in Iceland has demonstrated this.
So we have some serious problems. They may not be tomorrow.
Tomorrow may be OK from today, but 10 years from tomorrow, 20
years from tomorrow won't, and we have to start now to
understand that. So I think it's very serious, and it's not
that we're going to change nature, but we can optimize its
benefits and mitigate its hazards that are just hanging out
there right now unattended to. So in a way the climate change
issue could drive all of these actions, because they're all
interconnected with understanding and decisionmaking that makes
some sense. Today it's advocacy, and that won't sell, I don't
think, alone. We have to have alternatives and we have to have
a balanced approach.
You told us in Oceans Act of 2000 to balance economy with
science and technology and with environment and we've done
that, we've been true to that. And so I think this climate
change issue is extremely important and it's throughout our
report, but we're not the commission for climate change. We're
the commission to say what is the oceans component, and we've
given you that.
The Chairman. I thank you, Admiral. Would any of the other
commissioners like to comment on that issue?
Mr. Hershman. The issue of immediacy came to our attention
in the Northwest, the Washington coast, when in 1998, because
of an El Nino situation, a low atmospheric pressure situation
and a storm created some enormous wave action, which created
great erosion problems. And what the scientists are saying is
that that series of events was a sort of perfect storm of
activities combining, and any modest increase of sea levels in
general will create enormous kinds of erosion problems and
demands for funding to protect coastal areas.
And so the policy issues involving hazards are only
aggravated extensively when you add the climate change and sea
rise issue on top of that, so it's a local issue as well.
The Chairman. Thank you. Dr. Sandifer?
Dr. Sandifer. Mr. Chairman, thank you, sir. In addition, in
this report I believe more than anywhere else you will find a
call for adding, building new biological mechanisms of
observation and adding them to the Integrated Ocean Observing
Systems, so we can get a much better handle on not only what's
happening in the physical environment, but how that translates
into impacts on coastal resources, living resources, ocean
resources, and then how those translate into impacts on humans.
We also promote an effort linking the ocean's activities,
ocean health to human health, and part of that specifically
addresses the relationship of climate change to the transfer of
diseases and invasive species through the marine environment.
So I think the Admiral is absolutely correct. We have
recognized this throughout the report, tried to address it as
best we could within the context of the ocean commission that
we were given, and I really think that this place more than
anywhere else we push the need for adding biological
observations on top of the physical and getting a much more
complete picture than you would otherwise get.
The Chairman. Thank you. And I just have one additional
comment on this issue, and it's not exactly--this is no way a
criticism. We keep observing and observing and observing and
making more plans and spending more money on observing and
gathering data. At some point, we're going to have to act. Does
it take the Great Barrier Reef to die before we say, ``we've
observed this.'' How much data have to be accumulated? The
National Academy of Sciences has stated there is overwhelming--
I'll try to, I'll put the exact word that they use--evidence
that climate change is taking place, and this administration is
going to have some really great observations and the first
report is going to be in the year 2012.
So I'm certainly not complaining to you, because I think
you all have done an outstanding job. But at some point we have
to make a recommendation as to what actions we need to take.
And you know why we won't? Because it's going to cost money and
it's going to change our lifestyles.
Admiral Watkins. Mr. Chairman, we do make a recommendation
on what could be done. It's not just observations and data. You
know, some place there has to be a virtual common data center
that integrates the various databases that are all over the
place. We've got county databases, we've got State databases,
we've got NOAA databases, Navy databases. They don't talk to
each other. And we have recommended in here very strongly that
the National Ocean Council has a responsibility to set up a
virtual common data center, and bring these things together.
They can do it down at Stennis in Mississippi. They have the
capability of doing it, the Navy can do it today. They can take
disparate databases, bring them together, and generate products
out of there that the regions want. The regions have to say, we
need this information to run the Southeast region, we need it
in the Northeast region, in Alaska, and others. Those are maybe
different priorities and different requirements. They can
demand that of the scientific community, and through the
databases extract that.
This would also apply to education. We can have complete
curricula and information passed directly to our teachers who
are ill prepared to teach about the oceans, and give them, hand
it on a silver platter, what comes out of a database that's
integrated. And that's the best information available
worldwide. We need to couple that internationally. We've said
that all in the report. If you want to do this, you can't just
observe. You've got to take data, you've got to convert it to
products, you've got to assess that. Everybody has to have
access. We can't get wound up on intellectual property rights
and all that other nonsense. We have to move out. Other than
that, Mr. Chairman, that's about all I can say at this point. I
agree with you.
The Chairman. I thank you, Admiral, and I appreciate the
work that you've done and that you continue to do. And finally,
I hope that in your report you might address in some way the
astonishing 20 percent of the NOAA oceans and fisheries program
funding that is earmarked. Earmarking $676 million of its
budget is really a remarkable thing, and of course, it's grown
from like 1 percent. If we don't do something about it, it will
be all earmarked before those pork-barreling organizations
finish their work.
But I hope that you would be able to address the impact of
pork barrel spending and earmarks on this issue, and I'm sure
that Senator Hollings will agree with me. Thank you.
Senator Hollings. I'm a disciple of Senator Stevens.
Senator Hollings. Admiral Watkins and each of you on the
Commission, you all have worked hard, diligently, extensively,
professionally, and you've got a heck of a good report. At the
time, we had to struggle here at the Committee level over a
four-year period to get the Commission started under the Oceans
Act, and one of the things that we had to go along with
including in the bill was the Governor's report. I questioned
that at that time. We have that requirement now in the
commission process, that's why it's still an interim report so
that a draft can be submitted to the Governors. And now I'm
looking at that requirement and saying, well, maybe that's good
because we in the Congress also really want to look at this
draft report, because in essence the report has gotten a lot of
little problems coordinated and everything else of that kind
attended to, recommended for, but like Bossy the cow, you give
us a full pail and then kick it over with the National Ocean
Council, over at the White House. Boy oh boy, that's a non-
starter, if I have ever seen one.
You have all the Cabinet members with their particular
interests jumping on whoever's to be in charge of the National
Ocean Council. The Cabinet members will attend, but they'll
bitch, they'll fuss, they'll speak up when their departments
have an issue. They won't have any ideas for really
strengthening oceans policy, or having a lead agency. You keep
talking about NOAA being strengthened into the lead agency. But
you can bet your boots that it won't happen with that council.
Well, right to the point, you're talking about science. I've
been down to the Antarctic. I've looked up at the ozone in the
atmosphere, and I've seen the beginning, as the scientists have
described it, of climate and weather. And yet you say you're
going to have that ocean policy council guide the effective use
of science and ocean policy, whereas the science resides in
NOAA, and politics is at the White House. Here again, I'm going
to hear the same thing I've heard for 30 years; you will
politicize scientific endeavors and those kinds of issues.
Let me get right to the point and I want all of you to look
at this in the summer when you review comments from the
Governors. I harken back to Russell Train, head of the
Environmental Protection Agency. In 1976, we introduced a bill
creating a Department of Oceans and Environment. We were trying
to do all the things that you folks are trying to do with this
Council. If you ever could get, as the Stratton Commission
recommended, the Coast Guard as a lead agency of a Department
of Oceans and Environment, you can also get the climate
programs, you can get the environment and oceans programs, and
you can get the Coast Guard itself, which is either neglected
in Transportation or now neglected in Homeland Security. We
can't get more money for the Coast Guard from this
Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. You
have to experience these things to understand them.
I just heard you talk about unfunded mandates. We just
voted on an unfunded mandate with respect to port security.
This Committee has reported out a port security bill, has
passed three readings in both houses, and the President has
signed it into law. We tried to put the money to it. It was
voted down in this committee. Oh, we'll demonstrate and
flagellate and get up and headline, but we don't make headway.
Now, let's get right to the budget, because my time is
limited and I want to yield, but that Ocean Policy Council, to
me, takes away from what we've got now. NOAA has Admiral
Lautenbacher, a good leader. He's out there in Tokyo
representing our Nation and getting our international partners
to work together on an Earth observation system.
If you look at page 374 of your document, you finesse the
one thing I wanted to find out; namely, the budget. I know you
have a hearing on it today all, but if you turn to page 374,
you have all the items listed there, the council, education,
exploration, Federal support for states and everything else,
and you've got many blanks to fill in regarding funding
estimates. You've got to provide details. And don't worry about
sticker shock. This crowd still gives $15 million to the oceans
and $15 billion to space. You can't catch up with that
spacecraft. We know far more about the surface of the moon than
we do about the surface of the Earth itself. Seven-tenths of
the Earth's surface is the ocean--Admiral, you know the
statistic way better than me.
Admiral Watkins. Are you suggesting, Senator Hollings, that
we move some money from space to the oceans? We're all for it.
Thank you very much.
Senator Hollings. You don't have to move the money from
anywhere. You just have to direct us and we're going to have to
find it, but you've got to determine the needs and what would
be a good start. Don't you all worry, up here now it's all tax
cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, and we can't find money. We don't
have it for real security, much less false security. We don't
have it for the Coast Guard. We don't have it for all of these
other things and we don't have it for Iraq and Afghanistan. I
just got back from Afghanistan. We spent $120 billion so far, I
think, in Iraq, and they're begging for $5 billion in
Afghanistan. The President's budget is $1.2 billion.
Afghanistan's got 4 million more people. They're begging for
more money--we in the Congress put it up to 2 million, we can't
get it up to 5, which they could use immediately to win that
operation. The people like us there, we've got NATO there. But
we don't have any money for that.
Those are all the endeavors of government, so you should
look at the organization, whether NOAA needs to be an agency.
Mind you me, the Stratton Commission came out and called for an
independent ocean agency with the Coast Guard as the lead
entity. We have a Secretary Evans who works with NOAA and lets
Admiral Lautenbacher run with the ball, but I can never forget
one good close friend and no finer fellow than Malcolm
Baldrige. He was a cow puncher. He didn't know where any oceans
were or anything else like that, and he thought it was a sort
of insult to give him that kind of endeavor because he was
interested in business, the Baldrige award and those sorts of
things, and he did an outstanding job.
But folks, we have an opportunity here. You see the House
members interested, you see the Senate leadership now coming
from the Foreign Relations Committee and the other
Appropriations Committees, you see Senator McCain, and they're
all interested in this. So you all need to go back and look at
this document during the summer and forget about an ocean
council, because it's at the White House. That's the place to
get it lost, I can tell you that right now. You're transferring
the decisions on science, you're transferring everything there,
where nothing happens, and that's disorganizing the good work
that NOAA's doing now.
Go ahead, call for a Secretary of the Oceans and move the
Coast Guard over to the new Department, where they can get the
proper attention. They not only guard security, they guard the
fisheries, they guard energy development, they guard coastal
development, the Navy, recreational and commercial boats, and
everything else of that kind.
So thank you, Mr. Chairman, you or any of the other members
can comment, but those are the things that are running through
my mind right now. Having been in this game, it is hard to
support the Council and the trust fund. You all haven't gotten
to the Budget Committee yet. There isn't going to be a trust
fund, I can tell you that. You can't set aside that money. To
get the money, it's going to be tough. Let's list what funding
we need in each one of those entities, because you all have
spent way more time than anybody else thinking about the
issues. List that down for us and see if you can't better
organize this National Ocean Council.
Admiral Watkins. Senator Hollings, we've spent two and a
half years. We threw out the concept of a leadership position
in the White House to integrate 15 Federal agencies and
independent agencies over there in some cohesive fashion. If
you look in our report, you'll see the functions performed by
all of those agencies that are connected with the oceans. We
heard a plea everywhere we went across the country that we're
not being heard at the local level--I mean, from the local
level to the Federal level. We have a discontinuity between
what you drive down to us and what we think is reasonable to
do, plus the fact we can't, we don't have the dough to carry it
So we set up, we said, there should be a leadership
position in the White House that brings all of these disparate
groups together, so if somebody comes up with an estuarine
package to clean up things as they've done in the Northwest, 25
different entities out there come together and get slam-dunked
in NOAA because OMB says there ain't no money for that. Now,
we've got to get away from that. We don't think the examiner,
the budget examiner for NOAA should be other than the natural
resources examiner. Why do we have the commerce examiner doing
that? He doesn't know about Integrated Ocean Observing Systems.
He doesn't know about bringing agencies together in the ocean
So we have--our framework doesn't just stick with the ocean
council. It says, put a bunch of advisers who represent the
regions for the first time to share information and demand that
they be heard. So you can't separate the ocean council from all
of the other six elements of that framework that we've defined.
And we also have a step-change approach. We're not saying
this is the last thing we want to do in this country. We're
saying it's the first step, immediate step, and if you spend
too much time on reorganizing all of the agency, we'll lose the
energy and the specificity that we need to get on with real
issues out there. We have real non-point pollution problems. We
have real point source pollution problems. We have a lot of
things we need to act on and we don't want to devote all of our
attention to arguing when some kind of hierarchical system
should be back here.
So we've said, set up a leadership. As it went on, we said,
what is the leadership? The leadership is going to be the
President, who tells the assistant to the President, I want to
do something for the ocean. I want to get some dough in there
in the next budget, I want you to work with the Hill and get
it. That's what George Bush did for me when I was Secretary of
Energy. Department of Defense hated the $6 billion that I
wanted to steal from them for cleaning up the waste of nuclear
weapons, and George Bush said, do it, and then we did it.
Senator Hollings. Give him a Cabinet position at the
Secretary level. You're right, that's what we need.
Admiral Watkins. That's what we need. And so if the
President wants to do this, then I think the Congress, if they
do it first and set up an organizational structure where
integrated budgets can come up here, so if he says, all right,
I want to put $700 million next year into oceans, you come
back, Mr. OMB, and give me the programs out of those agencies
through the National Ocean Council, and we'll ask the Congress.
Because we then have the degree of specificity such as support
to integrate the ocean-observing system, and that means new
sensors of all kinds have to be developed in our research
So it's not going to work by itself. It works because the
President says, I want to make a commitment to this. Otherwise
it won't work, I agree with you, if there's no commitment. And
we were asked the other day, well, what happens if we leave 60
committees that ocean policy has to go before the Senate and
the House. I said, if the Executive Branch moves, my guess is
that they'll move very nicely up here and respond to integrated
budget submissions and all the other things, because they're
interested in this. We find a lot more interest here on the
Hill on what we're doing than any place else in the country,
and the Governors feel the same way. We've talked to the
Governors, we've been out there talking to them. I've been up
to Massachusetts, down to Florida, and they're very anxious to
see themselves plugged into a system that has some kind of
coordinated loop in it that makes some sense.
So we don't say this is everything, but we said it's a
concept, and if you're not going to do this, who is going to
head this monster in Washington and bring these people
together? So we don't think of this alone, but we think with
the President's interest in it that we can do this and do it
smoothly, and we move to a strengthened NOAA, moving more
functions in in Phase II from other agencies, and eventually
maybe somebody will sit back and say, haven't we developed a
concept for the long haul that brings land, ocean, and
atmosphere together? It's called natural resources, and so
that's been debated up here in the 1970s; you were involved in
some of those bills. And they make some sense for the long
haul, but not today, not immediately. Let's go through this in
a step-by-step process. We don't think the National Ocean
Council is everything at all, but linked to all the other
things we're recommending and linked to the seven-point program
and framework, we think it makes a lot of sense, and it stood
the test of two and a half years, because these commissioners
didn't agree with it either at the outset. But over time it
seems to have stood the test that we have put on it in case
study after case study that it will work. Now, there may be a
Senator Hollings. It won't happen unless you change the
Council and establish a department and put environmental issues
in there and then you'll get all of these things together.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Do you want to respond to that, Admiral? Dr.
Dr. Rosenberg. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Hollings, I
think that your point about the National Ocean Council being
the overall leader in some ways is correct, but we're not
suggesting that this does not include a greatly strengthened
NOAA, nor a consolidation of programs from other agencies, nor
are we suggesting that the National Ocean Council be the
But at some point, no matter how much you consolidate, how
much you strengthen NOAA, even if NOAA was a department, you're
still going to have to coordinate with the Navy, you're going
to have to coordinate with other programs in EPA, you're going
to have to coordinate with the National Science Foundation. I
don't think that those programs can be consolidated with
respect to ocean activities in a single agency.
NOAA still has to be the lead for implementation. They
still have to be the manager. They still have to be the lead
for applied science, and we are still recommending that NOAA be
strengthened. But you still have to have that coordination at
the Federal level and at the regional level. Now, there may be
a way to do that without a council, but it's unclear to me that
you could actually be as effective without getting people to
sit at the table to at least explain their programs. And having
spent 10 years in NOAA and being a great supporter of NOAA for
those 10 years, I think it's a great agency and it does need
strengthening. But to be the lead on its own and then go and
talk to the Navy, with respect to Admiral, or to go and talk to
the National Science Foundation and expect that you can do that
on an equal footing on an ad hoc basis, I just don't think is
feasible as you try to work through the various issues.
I worked on fisheries issues. We would have to deal with
the Navy on a whole number of protected species concerns.
That's going to happen no matter how much you strengthen NOAA.
You still are going to have to deal with the Navy or the
National Science Foundation or the National Institute of Health
or EPA. If you had a formal structure by which those issues
were considered at the highest level, then at least as an
employee in NOAA, I would have a hope of being able to get
those issues heard fully.
So I think the report does lay out a path to a much
stronger NOAA, and ultimately to a Cabinet-level or an
independent agency, but if we don't have that coordination now,
then I think it's going to be very, very hard to make any
progress on the recommendations in the report. Thanks.
The Chairman. Senator Lautenberg.
Senator Lautenberg. Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Admiral, you've
had a glorious career and your mission has been to protect our
country and our citizens. What you're doing now in my view is
an extension of that same thing, and that is to try and save
lives and save a way of life, et cetera, that is rapidly
disappearing in front of us because we're not taking any
action. At this point, with this report you're kind of like the
Paul Revere of the ocean assault, and we just don't get the
And, Senator Hollings, I suggest that you extend your
retirement date by a couple years and just give us a chance to
get used to your not being here. We won't take a vote on it
until we have full committee, but we're sure going to miss your
voice, including your accent, Senator Hollings, but your
knowledge is particularly significant.
Dr. Rosenberg just said something about the Navy being
included, and if one looks at the report issued in the last
couple of months by the Pentagon about the significance of our
defense posture as a result of global climate change, the
forecasts are so grim. We're not talking about 100 years away.
That report says that by the year 2007, parts of the
Netherlands are going to be inundated with water, and that can
create a very difficult situation there. But when you go into
the Indian Ocean areas, lower lands, the prospects are
And the Defense Department is trying to prepare itself for
the day when famine and riots and so forth will overtake parts
of the world, assaulting our borders and our coastlines. No
place will be exempt. And so no matter how strongly you make
the case, Admiral and your colleagues, you've all done a
terrific job, the report that's released is excellent, we have
to just bring things together.
For instance, if we look at what's happened by way of
comparisons between agencies that administer the Endangered
Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed 1,500-
plus species as endangered, while the National Marine Fisheries
Service has listed only 19 marine species as endangered. Did
your Commission assess whether the NMFS is doing a good job of
protecting endangered and threatened marine species?
Admiral Watkins. I'd like Dr. Rosenberg to take that. He is
our special commissioner for the fisheries issue and I think he
can shed some light on that.
Dr. Rosenberg. Thank you, Senator. I do think the National
Marine Fisheries Service is doing a good job with endangered
species. I think it is a much more difficult job in the ocean,
partly for the reasons that have been described here, and that
is we know so little. Our research budgets have been so
constraining that what we know about marine species is much
less than what we need to know. Most of the listed species, of
course, that have been listed by the National Marine Fisheries
Species are so-called anadromous species like salmon that spawn
in fresh water, as well as sea turtles and some of the marine
But I actually think that there is an understanding gap in
the marine environment and that contributes to this. I also
think that the impacts on land, of course, are much greater,
much more advanced than they are in the ocean, so I don't think
it's a matter of they have not been careful in examining
endangered species issues. I think they've worked with the
information at hand and it is a much more difficult environment
to work in. That's part of the reason that the budget needs to
be much greater. It also is part of the reason that we need to
strengthen the other actions so that we don't end up using
Endangered Species Act as a way to manage, because it's of
course the very last way we actually want to manage any of
Senator Lautenberg. Admiral, in the recommendations on the
trust fund that perhaps revenues from offshore oil and gas
operations can be used, but they are used elsewhere now. And
the question is, where do we go? And I think the question's
been raised by Senator Hollings and Senator McCain, where do we
go to get the revenues? I am very involved in environmental
programs and we have one, Superfund, that was financed and
moving well and we cut out the financing there. Has anybody got
any ideas where we go to get the funding for this program?
Admiral Watkins. Let me tell you, Senator Lautenberg, we
always have a hard time when it comes to who's going to fund
this thing. We get those questions all the time. We've looked
at the existing laws that deal with the revenue stream from oil
and gas revenues. Those are Federal waters, some returned to
the American public, the taxpayer, by setting up the necessary
fund to see that those monies are allocated properly and they
come back into the country at about $5 billion a year just from
the oil and gas primarily, there are some other revenues.
All right, $1 billion of those we wouldn't touch. The $1
billion or $1.1 billion now that are allocated, you leave it
alone. We want to make a run on the remainder to say, let's
help the states ourselves get on with carrying out a national
ocean policy. Now, I recognize how you score those things in
the Budget Committee, and I know they're all part of the
appropriations process. You've got to consider where we are.
We're just saying that's a legitimate revenue stream for these
purposes--to feed back and improve the conservation
initiatives, try to carry out our coastal ocean policy and so
So, it won't be done, it won't be voted. Well, what will be
voted? We can only recommend. We're not the authorizers and the
approvers up here. So we're giving you an idea that seems to
have merit, to follow the highway trust fund concept. This is
as big a deal as the highway trust fund in my opinion, in our
opinion, of the Commission. So we didn't think it was illogical
to have some kind of a thing that's allocated, approved by the
Congress, allocated through the National Ocean Council, given
to OMB, and they have some kind of review of that. And you all
have the oversight over here anyway to take a look at that.
So it's, I'm going to say, similar to a little gimmick. I
know everybody makes a run on that account, they want to have
those revenues, and I recognize that. But we think it's a
logical one for the oceans, because that's what's intended
right now--to feed back to the producing states for the most
part some revenue streams that can help them out in all of the
other issues that the state has to face regarding offshore oil
production, for example, in the Gulf.
Senator Lautenberg. Mr. Chairman, one closing statement,
and that is, if you don't see it, we don't pay a lot of
attention to it around here. We take a very short-sighted view
of things. And the long-range implications of this constant
destruction of the ocean and its environment are going to cause
a crisis that we never could have imagined will exist.
And, Mr. Chairman, I think that we ought to give Admiral
Watkins, as far as we can, a medal for public service for this
duty. Thank you.
Admiral Watkins. Dr. Ballard is our expert on undersea
observations and I'd like him to----
Dr. Ballard. Thank you, although I'm only a commander, sir.
Senator, when we talk about where our revenue's going to come
from to support work in the oceans, I think it's important to
realize that before our country benefited from the revenues of
the Kenecott copper mines, Alaska, before we benefited from the
corn fields of Missouri, before we benefited from the ranches
in North Dakota and South Dakota, we had the Lewis and Clark
Expedition. And I think you need to realize how much of our
territories--when President Reagan signed that exclusive
economic zone, we doubled the size of America, the majority of
it being under water, and we have yet to do Lewis and Clark
expeditions of half our country, let alone the rest of the
As I came flying down this morning for the hearing, I was
reading this most recent issue of Oceanography, which is the
official magazine of The Ocean Society, which consists of all
the major ocean experts on our planet, and they made an
interesting comment at the very beginning of this that I'd like
to read into the record. And that said that public opinion
polls find that people in the United States favor ocean
exploration over space exploration by a ratio of 2-to-1, and
yet as Senator Hollings pointed out, NOAA's budget for ocean
exploration is one-tenth of one percent of NASA's budget.
It also goes on to show a map, in this recent issue, of
Mars and a map of the ocean floor, and it says in this issue
that these images have the same horizontal and vertical scale,
yet the horizontal resolution of Mars in the horizontal context
is 15 times better than the horizontal resolution of Earth. It
goes on to say that the vertical accuracy of the maps between
Mars and Earth, Mars is 250 times more accurate. I just let
that just sit there.
And so I just think that if you want economic revenue,
let's get on with the exploration and find out what our planet
Senator Lautenberg. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Senator Snowe.
Senator Snowe. Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Admiral Watkins, I
think there's no question that your Commission, the report, and
all of you will help us to advance some of the critical issues
facing the ocean. So many of your recommended activities are
going to be essential for preventing the further degradation of
the ocean and the marine environment.
But first we do have to start with what you say is one of
the major priorities, and that is creating a whole new
framework to coordinate these activities. How do you visualize
this happening? For example, for the National Ocean Council, is
there a concern that it might be duplicative of any existing
agencies, or that it would conflict with what NOAA is doing
Admiral Watkins. It's really an amalgam of existing
agencies. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that in
order to be able to have an integrated budget, you need to be
able to bring all of the various budgeteers to the table, and
that's the Secretaries and the heads of the independent
agencies, and so it has to be done that way. And it has to have
guidance from the Office of Management and Budget that allows
them to come in and integrate their various programs, which
would be really important for the Integrated Ocean Observing
System. You integrate those programs, star those items that are
coming up in the budget submission every year, and say, if
you're going to touch those, let us know because you're taking
a serious link out of the chain of the integration. NASA has
its role, EPA has its role, NOAA has its role, Navy has its
role. Make sure they're coming in in some kind of integrated
program for an integrated comprehensive ocean policy execution.
That can be done in my opinion. As I said earlier, it takes
the President to do that. Initially the President can bring
that together by executive order, but we're saying that's not
good enough. We're saying the Congress should authorize that so
it doesn't change from Administration to Administration and we
set this up in a cohesive way. It's not unapplicable to many
Let's take human health. Most every department has a
component for human health. Do we integrate all those? Why is
NIH going up exponentially and the others staying constant? I
don't know. Does somebody really adjudicate that, say that's
the right priority? I don't think so.
And so my feeling is that we have a lot of work to do at
the executive level to integrate our budgets to carry out these
many functions, which we can't separate from department to
department to department. They're all the same. NOAA has a
wonderful thing on floats, on floats that bob up and down--the
Argo floats go down to 2,000 meters, come up and report
salinity and temperature and wind conditions. It's very
important. That's now going worldwide. Well, who's on those
buoys? Who's riding on the buoys? Is NIEHS on the buoy? No. OK,
well, who integrates those things? Who demands that, when we go
up front and design these things? Well, National Ocean
Partnership Program under an act passed by the Congress in 1997
allows them to do that. But do they get support from OMB and
the White House? No.
So we're at about $25 million a year. We've been there for
years and years. We don't do anything. Now is the time to do
something and use those bodies, like the National Ocean
Council, which is the same people that appear before the
National Ocean Partnership Program. They're the Secretaries of
the agencies. But can they do the job without high level
And so it takes that kind of initiative, and I think the
Congress, with their zeal to get on with something like this,
can put pressure on the White House to say this is a good idea.
You get the executive order going for the feds, and that's the
locals too in the local regions, they don't talk to each other
either, but he can demand that and he can pull the Federals
together, so when the voluntary councils that we're proposing
out in the region areas come together, they can have somebody
to talk to that makes some sense, and then vector that up to
the White House and the Presidential Council of Advisers and
say, we demand to be heard on these issues.
And I think your Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System is an
embryo of what ought to be done nationwide. That is a Federal
to State relationship which is working, but at a modest level.
It ought to be moved more rapidly, and we're recommending that
in the coastal component of the IOOS.
Senator Snowe. And I congratulate you on that. I think it's
an excellent idea, and I'm just delighted that you have
included a proposal to create a national system. Obviously it's
going to require a significant investment.
Admiral Watkins. And we've outlined all that investment.
Centers know, you know, and Senator Hollings is right, you
know. Where is the money going to come from? I don't know. We
think we know. It's not going to come from the states. They're
saying they're broke. Our country's saying they're broke. We
think this is every bit as important as a few billion dollars
going into other efforts, maybe that we can shift a little
priority here at this point.
Senator Snowe. Well, with respect to the council, do you
think that the breadth of activities that would be assigned to
the council would overwhelm it in any way?
Admiral Watkins. I don't think so, because I think we'd
probably never meet in the council in the plenary session, I
doubt it. That's called a Cabinet meeting. What you do is say
specific issues. Let's say the Coral Reef Task Force, who do
they talk to? Well, you bring those agencies that are involved
in coral reef health together, maybe there are five of them,
and they talk to that group.
So that's what I see as a mechanism to keep working this
problem. We have the Arctic Commission. Who do they talk to? I
don't know. They haven't been very effective over the years. We
have a standing commission there. We have many others. They
need a place to go. And we haven't upset any of the existing
structure in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the
National Ocean Partnership Program. They're all factored into
our framework, so that we're not upsetting anything and
spending all of our energies on trying to reshuffle things
around. We're just saying, just do it right over there and get
a commitment and get the right people in the Office of
Management and Budget responding to the President and the
President has a feeling, a visceral feeling that this is an
important national commitment.
Senator Snowe. And what was the thinking behind the
Commission's recommendation for a council as opposed to
creating a whole new agency?
Admiral Watkins. We're not against a new concept of an
agency. We have set out a three-step program that says what we
can do immediately with the existing structure, what we then
can do by reshuffling functions from other agencies that ought
to be in NOAA for the most part--some of NOAA ought to be in
Interior, some of EPA ought to be in NOAA. That comes in what
we'd call phase II.
For Phase III we're saying, somebody's going to say, voila,
you've got land, ocean, and atmosphere coming together for the
first time. Land is interior. EPA is the regulatory body. They
have research bases that are very much in the game here of
monitoring all this. So we're not against that. But to do that
now, in the aftermath of Homeland Security, and to spend all
our energies on reorganization when in the meantime things are
going down the drain out there in the field--they need help now
and we think we can do it now as well as transition over time.
Maybe in 5 to 7 years you all say, let's get a task force
together, go back and see what the lessons learned were out of
the Ocean Policy Act of 1994, or 2004 rather.
And so that may lead to something better, but we think it
ought to go in that form, because I don't think we're ready to
go to an independent department. I don't think we're ready at
all. We're not up to ecosystem-based management in NOAA. We
think your organic act ought to be passed this year. It ought
to define what we mean by that. We don't have to tell them
exactly how to organize in there, but we've made some
recommendations and principles in here. We're willing to work
with the staffs up here. We've got some things in our back
pocket that say exactly how you write the bill that we didn't
put in the report because we knew it would be so controversial.
We're ready to work up here with you in any way, and we've done
a lot of thinking about this ecosystem-based management and how
to put it into our Federal Government, which is vertically
standpipe oriented that can't hack it. They can't do the job
for a lot of reasons; budget preparation things and all that
kind of thing constrain us.
We haven't done all we can do in the global climate change
program and that's an expensive program, and Chairman McCain
talked about that. Is that adequate today? We don't think so.
We don't even think it's close. And the Integrated Ocean
Observing System is a major component of that and there's a lot
of dough that has to go into that, and a lot of our
recommendations, that takes up quite a sizable chunk, and we're
giving NOAA the responsibility to run that. But they can't run
it unless they've got the authority to do so.
Senator Snowe. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Breaux.
Senator Breaux. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me thank
you, Admiral Watkins, for your continued leadership in the area
of ocean policy. We've worked together many times in the past.
And thanks to all the commission members who have given their
valuable time and expertise in this area, as well as many of
the commission members who are not with us today who served on
this important commission. Also recognize Dr. Tom Kitsos, who
served as your executive director for the excellent work I know
he did in helping to prepare this. He is a true expert in this
area in his own right.
I would think that--I mean, you had a monumental task.
You're dealing with approximately 75 percent of the surface of
the Earth, which is the oceans of the world. And the last time
I was talking to Senator Hollings, it's like deja-vu all over
again. Thirty years ago, I guess, we received the Stratton
Commission report with new ideas and here we are 30 years
later, same committee in the same room continuing to talk about
what do we need to do about the oceans.
I think part of the responsibility for highlighting the
necessity for giving greater attention to the oceans is not in
a council or anywhere else. It's here with us in the Congress.
We have the ability as political leaders to make this one of
the top issues in the country. That's part of our
responsibility and part of this committee's responsibility. If
you're not going to get strong leadership from the
Administration, any Administration, talking bipartisan here,
then Congress has to step up to the plate and talk about these
ideas, talk about these problems, and hopefully this report
will be the basis for Congressional hearings to really get
people interested in this even if you don't live near an ocean.
That's somewhat of a problem and the Chairman of this committee
is an insular state, obviously, in Arizona, but he has given a
great deal of attention and we need more insular members that
are also concerned about the ocean.
Now, with regard to the report, a couple of areas, I'm
pleased that you looked at the hypoxia problems. Louisiana
drains, two-thirds of all of North America comes right down the
Mississippi River and right past the City of New Orleans and
dumps billions of gallons of water every hour into the Gulf of
Mexico. And as a result of that, every year 12,000 square miles
of the ocean dies because of the extra nutrients that are
dumped into that area, and you all have talked about looking at
this, that this cannot continue, and the fact that the non-
point source pollution is occurring up and down that river.
This is a hard thing for us to get resolved. Farmers don't
want to be restricted in what they drain off their agricultural
areas that go into the Mississippi River and the other
tributaries and end up creating the algae problems we have in
the Gulf and destroying everything in a 12,000 mile area.
And looking at this and the work that's being done, we have
the Louisiana consortium that is looking at it, we have another
Mississippi River Basin Alliance that's working on it. Are
things being done in your opinion that would be the right
things that we should be doing with regard to killing this
large portion of the Gulf of Mexico every year?
Admiral Watkins. Senator Breaux, you've identified an issue
which came before the commission in New Orleans when we held
hearings down there, and we were overwhelmed with the kind of
actions that you have to take to deal with this issue. We had
presentations from a senior official in the State of Iowa that
fully recognized what they were doing up there. If the Congress
passes a $6\1/2\ billion farm subsidy to generate more ethanol,
what do you think that does to the nutrients flowing into the
The farmers are doing the best they can to prevent that
kind of nutrient flow. They are also sensitive to the
environment and good water conditions, but these are the kind
of things that need attention across the board. What have we
just done to ourselves? There are 41 states and two Canadian
provinces that feed the dead zone in the Mississippi. We're
sending this report to all Governors because they're all
involved in this, not just the 35 Governors in the coastal
And so we know you have a huge problem. This is why we say
regional councils become important, because the regional
councils are made up of the kinds of people you had to pull
together just for that one issue. But the councils are needed
for a lot of other issues, not the same people necessarily, but
the same group of people have to come together and deal with
So we're very sensitive to that issue. We're very sensitive
to the Chesapeake Bay, the Northwest, the Columbia River--many
of the other estuarine situations are unhealthy as well. You
are really in the middle of a humdinger down there, and we know
it. We're sensitive to it; we think what you're doing is the
best you can and we think you need help, and we think some of
this revenue stream ought to go back and help solve those
problems in the states that are involved in the dead zone in
Senator Breaux. Well, I'm glad you all addressed it. It's
going to help us use what you all have said about it. It's
incredibly important. I like also that you all had recommended
that a portion of the OCS revenues, we worked on this for 100
years that I've been around it seems like, is trying to say
that as we develop the offshore resources, there is a
particular need for the offshore states who bear the brunt of
the infrastructure requirements to be able to try and have some
of those offshore revenues delegated to coastal restoration and
dealing with the problems that we're talking about. I'm very
pleased that you all have recommended that concept.
The final thing I'd say is one that I disagree with you on
is the recommendation on the fisheries financing programs. You
all have made a recommendation in the report, Recommendation
1916, that recommends that Congress repeal the fisheries
finance program, the capital construction funds, and other
programs that encourage overcapitalization in the fishing
Well, all of those programs that provide assistance,
financial assistance, in the fishing areas, all have
requirements that they not loan money or make investments that
would overcapitalize a particular fishing area. That's already
a requirement. So I'm not sure whether I'm misreading what the
report said or what, because my recommendation is you don't
wipe out the whole program, you just make sure that the program
is not utilized to overcapitalize a particular area that the
program is designed to benefit.
These programs have gone a long way to help legitimate
fishing operations, and the requirements already say you cannot
make these guarantees or loans if in fact they would contribute
to the overcapitalization of an industry in this particular
Admiral Watkins. I'm going to ask Dr. Sandifer to take
Dr. Sandifer. Thank you, sir. Senator Breaux, we simply
tried to identify--perhaps the recommendation wording needs
some work--we simply tried to identify the problem that has
been pervasive in some areas of fisheries, where the
capitalization funds have ended up not meeting all the goals of
reducing overcapitalization in those fisheries, or
overcapacity, with the result of negative impacts on the
fishermen, as well as on the fish stocks.
Senator Breaux. But the answer is not to kill the program.
The answer is to strengthen the requirements that you cannot
use the money to overcapitalize an industry that's already
Dr. Sandifer. And that may be the best way to go----
Senator Breaux. Is that an amendment to your
Dr. Sandifer. I'll leave that for us to discuss at an
appropriate time, Senator, as we get all of the comments back.
But again, the issue was to try to figure better ways to reduce
overcapitalization with the least impact both on the fisherman,
on the taxpayer, on the resources.
Senator Breaux. Well, there's a way to do that without
ending the programs. Thank you all for your good work.
The Chairman. Senator Cantwell.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARIA CANTWELL,
U.S. SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, it's
good to see all of you. I'm assuming there are some women on
this commission. Maybe that speaks to task that we need to
accomplish, we need to get more women.
Admiral Watkins. We have two wonderful members of our
commission that are women, and both of them are out talking to
the Governor of California, talking to the Governor of New
Jersey, talking to the Governor of New York and couldn't be
with us today. They were with us yesterday and the day before
that, so they are here in spirit with us and they've been great
contributors to our work.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you. I know we are concerned about
healthy oceans, so Admiral Watkins, thank you, and Professor
Hershman, thank you for being here, and I know we have another
representative from the State of Washington, Bill Ruckelshaus,
who isn't here as well, so I thank you for your hard work.
As we move forward in talking about this regional approach,
I wanted to bring up a particular issue as it relates to the
North Pacific Northwest Fish Council and the issue of
overfishing and how to base important decisions on good
science. It seems in the report, because obviously yours is not
the only report that's out there in the sphere of what to do
about oceans, you more or less hold up the North Pacific
Council as a good council that has made good progress in the
issue of dealing with fisheries management. I don't want to
overstate that, so I want to have a little more dialogue about
whether that is in fact the case. Do you think that the North
Pacific Council has worked well juxtaposed to the councils in
other parts of the country, and where does that take us if we
are going to then move to this larger regional approach as
Admiral Watkins. Let me ask Dr. Rosenberg. He was up in the
Northwest recently at a AAAS conference. A lot of this was
debated there. Bill Ruckelshaus was there of our commission,
and I think that he can best answer this. Ed Rasmuson, one of
our commissioners from Alaska.
Mr. Rasmuson. Senator Cantwell, I'm from Alaska and I'm
also on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and
it's specifically mentioned in the report as a commission that
works well, and we have four members from the State of
Washington, one from Oregon, and the other members are from
The report further states that the tools are in place to
regulate our offshore fisheries, they just need to be adopted
and used as they were originally intended to be. What we
particularly make an emphasis on is to place more
recommendations in sound science that comes to the
recommendation to the SSC, and that's where we're trying to
strengthen the commissions.
I think that when we finally go through the reorganization
of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, we'll see a lot of these,
hopefully, recommendations coming through with the
reauthorization. But it works well because your state and our
states have a very vital interest in it and it's a big economic
driver of both of our states. As a result, we take a very keen
interest in it, because for us, our State, it's over 20 percent
of our economic growth product. And you have some very large
companies residing in the State of Washington, so they pay
attention to it. We make sure that we have a very healthy
Dr. Rosenberg. Senator, I think the report is clear that
the North Pacific Council has been quite successful in
managing, particularly the target species that are the subject
of the fishery, in other words, the commercial fisheries. They
also have been more successful in terms of research funding
than probably any other area. Senator Stevens has left, but
that certainly is clear, and has made a huge difference in
dealing with some of the issues in the North Pacific and
shouldn't be lost in the discussion.
I think the challenge is to, first of all, move toward a
stronger ecosystem-based management approach. In other words,
link together the different pieces of management, not just in
fisheries but also in other areas, and that's perhaps a greater
challenge in the lower 48 than in Alaska, even simply because
of the more complicated management problems in coastal
developments and so on in States with higher population, the
So while the North Pacific Council and the Fishery
Management Council system has some good lessons for us with
regard to creating regional management and ecosystem-based
management, we're recommending some significant advances or
strengthening of not only the fisheries council system, but the
overall management system for coastal and ocean activities, and
that's what that whole theme of ecosystem-based management is
Senator Cantwell. What is the key issue in which you would
distinguish the North Council from other councils? Where did
they fail? Was it on science or was it on coming together with
a decision-making process on various harvest levels?
Dr. Rosenberg. I think there are two things that have--
well, perhaps three things--that have distinguished the North
Pacific Council. One is on a science basis, at least in the
last, well, since the Magnuson Act, now Magnuson-Stevens Act,
was passed. The North Pacific Council has adhered very closely
to the science advice on the target species, in other words,
the most commercially important species. That has not been the
case over the history of all of the councils. I served on two
councils and my colleagues on the councils might not like me to
say that, but I'm afraid it is the case. It's also the case in
State commissions that the science advice has not been adhered
to in many cases. That's not the situation in the North Pacific
for a number of reasons.
I think that the North Pacific Council also had a different
history to deal with than many of the other councils in terms
of initially a largely foreign fishery that was Americanized as
part of the Magnuson Act originally in 1976. That's very
different from New England, my home area, where you had a very
long fishery tradition and a lot more vested interests, or the
South Atlantic and some of the fisheries issues for Senator
Hollings, or in the Gulf and so on where there are much more
complicated problems with a number of vessels.
And so--and third I think that the North Pacific Council
has at least recently used one of the tools that we recommend
in our report, that is dedicated access privileges, more
effectively than most any other council in the country for
rather particular legal reasons. It's probably been more
advanced there than elsewhere, and I think that that has
enabled them to do some things with regard to allocation
between user groups that have not been enabled in other areas.
Senator Cantwell. Did you want to add something?
Mr. Rasmuson. One other--I'd like to further elaborate just
real quickly. The North Pacific Fisheries Council got a jump
start on everybody else because the INPFC, the International
Pacific Fisheries Commission, was folded into the North Pacific
fisheries in 1976. It was chaired by my father for 20 years and
their main interest was regulating the fisheries in the North
Pacific vis-a-vis the Japanese. And as a result, they took the
whole council and moved it into the fish council and adhered to
those particular points that my colleague is reiterating. So we
had a framework already involved that was there.
Senator Cantwell. Well, thank you, gentlemen. You've
actually made the point that I wanted to make. I'm sure we're
going to continue to have a debate about the councils, and
while some people will propose various changes to those
councils. As far as improvements go, you're bringing up the
point that I think we in the Northwest know well, and that is,
whatever species issue it is, whatever environmental issue it
is, it has to be based on good science.
So as we move forward with the Magnuson Act reauthorization
and began looking at that, we should keep in mind that the
essence of what you want to do on regionalism, what we want to
do is make sure that science is adhered to. So thank you.
The Chairman. Senator Nelson.
STATEMENT OF HON. BILL NELSON,
U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA
Senator Nelson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. One of your key
recommendations is the idea of ecosystem management rather than
uncoordinated policies that don't recognize the connection
between all of the ecosystems, and this has been a concept that
has been employed very successfully in the Florida Keys
national marine sanctuary. It uses ocean zoning to govern those
marine systems and they reach out to all of the relevant
government agencies and employs a science-based management to
balance human activities.
And so I just wanted to point that out that it can serve as
a model to be duplicated in other areas across the country, and
I commend you for bringing that out in your report.
I want to ask you about the Coastal Zone Management Act,
which is very important to us in Florida because it is another
tool since Floridians do not want oil drilling off of our
coast. It is a tool that is utilized, and I want to confirm
with you all that this report does not recommend weakening a
state's ability to object to drilling off of its coast.
Admiral Watkins. I'm going to ask Professor Marc Hershman
to talk about that.
Mr. Hershman. Senator, one of the great innovations of the
Coastal Zone Management Act was what's called the Federal
consistency requirements, and this in effect gives the states a
chance to require that they interact with Federal agencies on
their policies on the ocean area beyond the 3-mile limit, or in
the case of Florida, beyond the 9-mile limit.
This has been applied now for over 30 years and it's been
very contentious with respect to the offshore oil issue. As
you're probably aware, many lawsuits, much political debate and
dialogue, additions to appropriations bills and that sort of
thing. But in the long run, across all the issues between
Federal and State agencies, this is considered an
intergovernmental mechanism that has a very positive record,
and the report is that this is working the way it is intended,
that is, because the State governments have the ability to in
some cases veto and in some cases require full consideration of
State interests by the Federal agencies, that it has created
the dialogue that's necessary to resolve some of these issues.
That's not saying there aren't remaining ones, and I think
there may still be issues in offshore oil, perhaps dumping of
dredged materials and issues like that in which there is still
considerable debate between the states and the Federal
Government. But there is a mechanism in place that now has a
30-year history for sorting that out in a constructive
dialogue. That is not affected in any of our recommendations.
We identify it, discuss it, and indicate that this is an
important intergovernmental tool.
Senator Nelson. So your report does not weaken a state's
ability through the Coastal Zone Management Act to object to
activities off its shore?
Mr. Hershman. No, it does not. It acknowledges its role and
also has many recommendations to strengthen the Coastal Zone
Management Program. There's a whole chapter 9 that deals with
Senator Nelson. That's very good for you to underline that
particular point of strengthening the Coastal Zone Management
Act. Thank you for that clarification.
Let me quote to you another part from your report on the
issue of climate change, ``the specter of abrupt change and a
growing awareness of the impacts climate change could have on
coastal development, terrestrial and marine populations, and
human health calls for a significant improvement in climate
research, monitoring, assessment, and prediction
capabilities.'' That's from your report.
The Pew Report says, ``the one thing that can directly
limit the effects of climate change on the marine environment
is to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute
to this problem. Only then can we assure coming generations and
ourselves that the recommendations we offer will yield the
bountiful seas we envision.'' That's the Pew Report.
Do you all agree with the Pew Report on that issue?
Admiral Watkins. We didn't really address the issue on the
Kyoto protocol, CO2 reduction and so forth. We felt
that that is a decision that is going to be outside the purview
of any of the direction we received in the Oceans Act of 2000.
We agree that there is an impact. You know the arguments
between whether it is anthropogenic or natural variability.
Nobody has really come out in a uniform way and said, other
than the globe is warming, OK, one or two degrees at the low
edge of the projections by mid-century. That's enough to change
a lot of things in the world. It's enough to change the world
ocean circulation business. It affects climate all over.
So we recognize that, but for us to take a position on how
much CO2 reduction we should have would be beyond
the scope of our text, much as offshore moratoria. We don't get
into that. Those are political decisions that have to be made
at a higher level. Also, there are different scientific
programs that are going on in the atmosphere that we're not
directly connected with. Are we worried about climate change?
You better believe it. Are we saying that we need the
assessment and the monitoring system and the kinds of tools we
need out there to know what's going on in real time? You better
So we are connected in a lot of ways, and maybe we can
bring to the table a better debate about anthropogenic versus
natural variability, which seems to always be fighting each
other. The degree to which the oceans contribute here--the
oceans contribute so much, they give us our oxygen, they give
us our life, and we know that. So we don't want to destroy, we
don't want to stop the Gulfstream. That's not a good idea. And
if 40 percent of the ice that was lost in the freshening of the
ocean of the Arctic and we don't study the Arctic, we're not
doing enough research in the Arctic now, and yet it's key to
climate change understanding.
So we have a lot of things we have to do and they're in our
Senator Nelson. And I thank you, and of course, you
understand that I have a vested interest in this coming from
the State of Florida, which has more coastline than any other
state, of which we want our oceans healthy.
Let me ask you one more question, Mr. Chairman, if I may.
Up in the panhandle of Florida just recently, over 100 dolphins
have washed up on shore and basically we don't know what has
caused their death. When you go in and examine them, there
doesn't seem to be any particular reason. Now, the question is,
do we have enough money to go in there and find out? What does
your report recommend to combat marine mammal mortality?
Dr. Rosenberg. Thank you, Senator. I think we don't have a
specific recommendation that would say for stranding mortality,
such as the dolphins in the panhandle, this should be the
investment, but it's very clear that we have within the broader
research program a need to address issues such as marine mammal
mortality. We recommended specifically, for example, an
increased emphasis on sound in the ocean, which is potentially
one of the major drivers for things such as marine mammal
strandings, dolphin or otherwise.
We also have recommendations for a major increase in
funding for oceans and human health. Well, human health is an
important attribute, but many of the factors that affect human
health also affect mammal health in general in the oceans.
Clearly, the marine mammal conservation areas need greater
attention. We do have a chapter on marine mammals and
endangered species, which incidentally includes sea turtles as
another incredibly important group of species at risk, and
there is a research imperative here as well as a management
imperative. I hope that's adequately addressed and it's
understood in the marine mammal chapter, but it's understood
when we're talking about major increases in research funding
that cuts across a broad range of issues, including those
things such as ocean health-related issues, marine mammal
mortalities and sound in the ocean.
Dr. Sandifer. Senator, to follow up a little bit, in
addition we called in our marine mammals chapter for
specifically more research on basic biology and understanding
of marine mammals so we would have a clearer understanding of
what may be driving these kinds of mortality events,
understanding the population biology so we can do more to
We also have in the oceans and human health area and a
couple of other places we talk about harmful algal blooms. In
the case that you just mentioned in the panhandle, it appears
very likely that a bloom of a toxic alga that was undetected
ended up at least resulting in contributing significantly to
that mortality event. That means that we need to do a better
job of building the detection and prediction capabilities for
what's happening with the harmful algal blooms and the toxins
and where they might come ashore and things that we have not
yet had the attention paid to that needs to.
And as Dr. Rosenberg said, we are recommending increase in
funding across the board for these kind of resource-based
research activities along with the basic sciences. There is no
separation in our minds. Part of the increase would go into
basic understanding, like exploration that Dr. Ballard talked
about, and part would go into dealing with just this kind of
problem, the answer to which appears to be growing. We are
paying significant attention to those things.
The Chairman. I want to thank the Commission and--Senator
Senator Hollings. One more time, Admiral Watkins and each
of the commissioners, you all have done an outstanding job. But
to go right to Admiral Watkins, when I talked about this
solution of a National Ocean Council, you ran a touchdown on
everything that we agree upon. You and I agree on the need, you
and I agree on the lack of one agency talking to the other, we
agree on the need for coordination, we agree on the importance
of the oceans, we agree on the importance of monetary and the
I wish you were all up here at this desk. You folks are
professional, you're experts, you know what you're talking
about, you've given a lot of time to it, and we are in
agreement with it. But Admiral Watkins, you were passionate
about your answer to my comments and we agree on all that, but
you are almost sissy in the recommendation. Listen to this
recommendation, no kidding.
Admiral Watkins. I've never been called a sissy before,
Admiral Watkins. You and I have been friends for many
years. I would never call you a sissy.
Senator Hollings. This concerns the recommendation about
your council--I'm glad you have the summer. Count me in as one
of the Governors. A council composed of Cabinet Secretaries of
departments and directors of independent agencies. You'll never
get a quorum for that. I can tell you the Secretary of Defense
will never attend. The Secretary of State, he'll never come,
although we have all kinds of law of the sea issues and
everything, but he'll say, ``I've got work to do, I can't go to
that.'' In the office of the assistant to the President, we
already have telecommunications assistants, we have economic
assistants, we have scientific assistants. In fact, the
scientific assistant to the President some years back was so
inadequate and ineffective that we organized a national
technology assessment board. I was on the original membership
of that board that was to assist the President.
If you think this helps you with the OMB--the President's
worried about spending, so the assistant to the President on
oceans comes in and says, ``Mr. President, but the oceans need
so and so, the OMB fellow said no, we can't afford that,'' he's
going to go along with his OMB. You have got to give this thing
another look--make me not be a sissy myself. I hadn't
recommended the department, because I'm a realist too, and
that's what you all are trying to do is be realistic and I
But listening to you, you're going to have to get a
department. You can get President McCain to appoint a new
Senator Hollings. As a Secretary, I can always get the
President's ear, not as an assistant to the President. He'll be
down in the cellar of the Old Executive Office Building. You
can't find those assistants, no kidding. Let's get into the
real world. But if I'm a Secretary, I say, now, ``Mr. President
McCain, you've gotten me to serve and you've given me this job,
but we are in real trouble, we have these needs.'' I can at
least get the President to call up OMB and say ``change that
thing around now and let's get at least half of what they
Incidentally, you have all been in government one way or
the other and you're not going to shoot the moon, but give us a
dollar figure on what you think is a realistic need for ocean
spending, something reasonable to get the job done. We're not
going to get it, don't worry about it. We're the authorizing
committees and we never get what we want out of appropriations,
but we at least find out what the needs are from you folks who
spent 2 years on it. And please do that and think about that
department idea. Get us organized. That's what you're talking
about, and you're not going to get it organized with an ocean
council and an assistant over there in the bottom of the OEOB
and there will be no quorums, I can tell you that.
The Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Admiral Watkins. I would disagree with you, because I don't
expect the Secretary of Defense to attend any of the meetings,
but I do expect somebody at the third or fourth echelon level
who has the ear of the Secretary and is authorized to go over
there. I had the same thing with global climate change when I
was Secretary of Energy. I didn't go to those meetings and yet
it was set up for all the Cabinet Secretaries involved in
climate change to be there. But I had a person down at the
third echelon that knew what he was talking about in science
and technology, he'd come up and brief me as to what he was
going to take to that council meeting, and I said, go for it,
you got my blessing on it.
But you set up the thing so that at least you give some
respect to say Secretary Rumsfeld that he might be interested
in the oceans. But that trickles down to maybe it's Admiral
Lohr, who is the JAG official over there for ocean policy,
maybe he comes to the meeting. That's all right, as long as the
Secretary knows it and knows what he's going to say over there.
So I don't necessarily write off the Ocean Commission as
being an outfit that just can't maneuver. I believe it can, as
long as the President says so.
The Chairman. Admiral, I would also assert that the reason
why what you're doing can be enormously effective is because of
the warnings that you are sounding about the conditions of our
oceans. It's gotten a lot of attention, and I hope that when
your final report comes out it will get much more attention.
Every newspaper in America that I know of has covered your
preliminary conclusions, and I believe your conclusions are so
alarming to many that your recommendations will be and should
be taken very seriously. I think that's part of this equation.
And I know from having been involved in this issue, not
nearly to the degree that Senator Hollings has or you have,
we're talking about some very, very serious consequences unless
action is taken immediately. If we can make the American people
and the Congress and the Administration aware of the dire
situation we face, which is what I get out of your report, then
hopefully that can be transferred into both reorganizations
such as Senator Hollings is recommending, but also sufficient
And it is a disgrace if the inequities between space and
oceans are $16 billion to some million or whatever it is, and
hopefully we can get attention on this issue. And already I
think your commission has performed a signal service and
contribution by what you've said already.
Senator Cantwell, did you want to----
Senator Cantwell. If I could make a final request, because
I know this is a draft report and you have an opportunity to
consider other issues in your final version. I would just,
adding on to the previous comments about atmospheric issues,
that we have a specific issue we're dealing with in the State
of Washington with the Southern Resident orca population. Most
people know orcas as Free Willy, they are an icon to us in the
Northwest, and it looked like we are losing that resident
population. It has already been declared an endangered species
by the state and it is currently being considered by NOAA for
Federal listing as an endangered species.
One of the number one issues related to the orca's decline
is PCBs. It is an atmospheric issue and it will take
international cooperation to address. Believe it or not, it's
air from Asia, China in particular, coming over and polluting
our ocean. So in your final recommendations, I would appreciate
it if you would consider beefing those up--I mean, you
approached the atmospheric issue from a regional perspective,
but we need to focus on an international solution as well. If
you would consider beefing up that section of your report about
atmospheric deposition, I think it would be greatly received by
The Chairman. Are there any final comments that you,
Admiral, or any other members of the Commission would like to
Admiral Watkins. We'll take Senator Cantwell's comment into
consideration. I thought we had well covered the atmospheric
deposition of contaminants that affect the water systems of our
country. If we haven't, we'll go back and take a look and see
what we have said there, and perhaps there is some way to
strengthen it. But I don't think there's any question on the
Commission's part that that's a key part of non-point source
pollution, point source pollution and so forth, I mean, the
mercury in the water and so forth. So we understand all that
and I thought we had covered it pretty well.
But anyway, we want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
allowing this hearing this morning before this important
committee and you can be assured that this is a dedicated
commission. They were set up by the Congress primarily and
you're the ones that gave us 12 out of 16 of these
commissioners. It's the right way to do business up here, pick
out people who know what they're talking about, give two of
those names to the President, ask him to pick one of them and
we don't care which one, and that's what we are. And I think
we've done a good job and I think our commissioners deserve a
lot of credit for having what I would say is a very ecumenical
approach to this, very unbiased. Sure they defended their
region of the country, and properly so, but we were able to
find balance and consensus throughout this. It was very
difficult, and I think that what we've got here is an excellent
start and I hope that the Congress would move now even on the
preliminary report. The final report to the President may not
be a lot different from this; I don't see how it could be. We
have to listen to the Governors' input and we'll see--if
there's a common thread across those Governors' input, we'll
put it in. If not, I'll just tell the President in the
forwarding letter, Mr. President, you've got 18 Governors that
have serious reservations about voluntary regional councils,
and we'll have to say you'll have to do the best you can, but
we still think it's the right idea.
So those are the kind of things that we're not jousting
with within the commission as we move to the final phase. This
will be on the President's desk on July 23. That will drive my
executive director here today nuts, but we're going to do it.
We have to get it on the President's desk. He has 90 days to
come back to the Congress by the Oceans Act of 2000 and that
takes it to October 23, which is an interesting time of the
year here. And we want to get this in this Administration, get
this action started so the next session of Congress, if we
can't get anything done this time, is going to launch off on a
series of things that can be very helpful to the Nation.
The Chairman. I know you'll bring the two women
commissioners with you at our next appearance as well.
Admiral Watkins. We will.
The Chairman. Thank you, Admiral, and Secretary Hollings.
We'll be looking forward to your report. Thank you. This
hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:30 a.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Response to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Ernest F. Hollings to
Admiral James D. Watkins
Question 1a. One of the most important recommendations made by this
Commission--and there are very many--is on page 73, where it recommends
that Congress should: ``. . . solidify NOAA's Role as the Nation's lead
civilian ocean agency through the enactment of an organic act.''
The Commission also recommends that NOAA's structure be
``consistent with the principles of ecosystem-based management'' and
cover 3 areas--
Assessment, prediction, and operations for ocean, coastal,
and atmospheric environments.
Management of ocean and coastal areas and living and
nonliving marine resources.
Research and education on all aspects of marine resources.
I couldn't agree with you more! But, on page 48, you recommend that
a ``National Ocean Council'' should:
``Guide the effective use of science in ocean policy''
``Develop principles and goals for governance of oceans and
``Make recommendations . . . on carrying out national ocean
``Assess the state of the Nation's oceans and coasts''
Aren't these squarely in NOAA's area of expertise? What is NOAA's
Answer. While the Commission views NOAA as the Nation's lead
Federal agency for oceans and coasts, it doesn't view NOAA as the only
federal agency with a leadership role in the marine environment. Also,
the Commission has highlighted the need to move towards an ecosystem-
based management approach, one that integrates land, sea and air, which
will require greater emphasis on interagency cooperation. Where
appropriate, NOAA should be designated at the lead agency for core
ocean and coastal related activities. However, there will likely be
cases where another Federal agency may have an equal or greater role.
NOAA's role is to facilitate the development and implementation of a
national ocean policy, relying on both internal as well as external
resources and expertise.
Question 1b. Aren't we subjecting every decision of our stronger
NOAA to a ``group think,'' lowest common denominator approach?
Answer. The successful development and implementation of a national
ocean policy will require the collective participation of the full
suite of Federal agencies that have responsibilities or mandates that
impact the marine environment and resources. The process of reconciling
competing mandates priorities among the various agencies is one of the
principle roles of the National Ocean Council (NOC) and, in particular,
the Assistant to the President. Such a process will require compromises
by each of the players in order to strike the necessary balance of
social, economic, and ecologic objectives. The Assistant to the
President--who would chair the NOC--and other key cabinet officials,
will be responsible for ensuring that national policies endorsed by the
President represent far more than the ``lowest common denominator.''
Question 1c. Doesn't this also raise the concern that there will be
more politics in our scientific decisions, not less?
Answer. The Commission's recommendations include the establishment
of a Committee on Ocean Science, Education, Technology and Operations
(COSETO). COSETO, an interagency entity chaired by the Director of the
Office of Science and Technology Policy, will be the scientific
advisory body to the NOC. COSETO's recommendations and guidance to the
NOC will represent the best collective judgment of the Federal
Government's scientists, with the advice of their nongovernmental
colleagues. Its advice will be the foundation upon which policy
decisions are made. Given our recognition of the complexity and
interrelated nature of interactions in the marine ecosystem, it is
imperative that we establish management entities that are capable of
working across scientific disciplines and coordinating multiple agency
efforts to ensure that science plays a stronger role in the development
Question 2a. I am glad that the Commission has suggested
strengthening NOAA, but the Report at this point is a little slim on
how we might help with that. Did the Commissioners have further
recommendations that might help us strengthen the Agency's national
stature and leadership? Will the final version have more information?
For example, could the Agency work better if there were only 3 line
offices, organized along these three mission areas?
Answer. The Commission believes that NOAA's entire structure,
leadership, and staff should be oriented to support the effective
exercise of the three functions identified in chapter 7 of the report.
Beginning with a strengthened science program and a more service-
oriented approach, NOAA should be organized not only to improve its
efficiency, but also to promote inclusiveness and a commitment to
meaningful partnerships with other agencies, states, the private
sector, and the academic community.
Question 2b. Would regionally-based science centers, built around
the existing laboratory system, help to strengthen the agency's
national profile and visibility?
Answer. Ideally, efforts to meet regional information needs should
be carried out under the guidance of regional ocean councils. However,
because the process to develop these councils is voluntary and may take
time to implement, in the interim these efforts should be undertaken by
some other entity, as determined by each region. The organization
tasked with meeting these needs should draw on existing governmental
and nongovernmental institutional capacity in the region and be guided
primarily by the needs of the users in the region. Each region should
also collaborate with others, as appropriate, to address issues that
transcend regional boundaries. In our Final Report, the Commission
states that pending the creation of a regional ocean council, the
governors in each region should select a suitable entity to operate a
regional ocean information program that carries out research, data
collection, information product development, and outreach based on the
needs and priorities of ocean and coastal decision makers.
Question 2c. What recommendations are there to strengthen NOAA's
infrastructure--labs, ships, buoys, etc.?
Answer. The Commission report generally does not identify or
recommend agency specific infrastructure needs. Instead it calls for
the development of a national ocean and coastal infrastructure and
technology strategy--developed through the National Ocean Council's
Committee on Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and Operations--to
guide individual agency plans for facility (land-based and remote
platforms) construction, upgrade or consolidation.
Question 2d. Which other Federal agency programs could be brought
into NOAA that would really help raise NOAA's stature in the scientific
and resource communities?
Answer. The Commission recommends that the Assistant to the
President, with advice from the National Ocean Council (NOC) and the
President's Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, review Federal ocean,
coastal, and atmospheric programs, and recommend opportunities for
consolidation of similar functions as part of the Phase II
strengthening of the Federal agency structure. While deferring this
process to the NOC, the Commission believes that programs appropriate
for consolidation can be found in several departments and agencies,
including DOI, EPA, USACE's Directorate of Civil Works, and NASA. These
agencies carry out important functions related to managing and
protecting marine areas and resources, conducting science, education,
and outreach, and carrying out assessment and prediction in the ocean,
coastal, and atmospheric environments.
Question 2e. Can you provide the Committee with a list of candidate
programs that would help guide us in assessing further consolidation?
Answer. Additional discussion of possible candidates for program
consolidation can be found throughout this report, including in Chapter
9 (area-based ocean and coastal resource management), Chapter 14
(nonpoint source pollution), Chapter 16 (vessel pollution), Chapter 17
(invasive species), Chapter 20 (marine mammals), Chapter 22
(aquaculture), and Chapter 26 (satellite Earth observing operations).
Question 3a. On page 74 of the report, the Commission recommends
that NOAA ``strengthen its performance'' in 18 different areas,
including some very resource-intensive areas that we have struggled
with. These include:
Mapping and Charting
Domestic and international fishery management
Marine mammal and other marine species protection
Coastal and watershed management
Invasive species control
Natural hazards planning and response
Data and information Management and communication
Is the funding NOAA received in FY2004 sufficient to meet any of
Answer. Given the current state of the ocean and the general
agreement that our understanding of ocean and coastal processes is
limited and the management of marine resources is lacking, the current
level of funding for NOAA and other Federal agencies ocean and coastal
science, management and education activities is inadequate.
Question 3b. If not, did you include the cost of NOAA's meeting all
these requirements in your $3.2 billion estimate for annual increased
costs on page 374?
Answer. The Commission's Final Report estimates that the Nation
needs to invest an additional $3.9 billion per year in our oceans, and
the annual cost to improve NOAA programs is included in that total. It
is important to note that while the Commission recommends that a
strengthened NOAA expand its role as the Nation's lead Federal agency
for oceans, funding is needed for a wide array of programs throughout
the Federal Government.
Question 3c. Could the Commission provide us with your estimates of
what it might cost to strengthen NOAA's performance in each of these 18
areas within the next 5-10 years (including costs of some of the
programs recommended for moving to NOAA?
Answer. Chapter 30 and Appendix G in the Final Report provide first
year and outyear budget estimates for each of the Commission
recommendations. However, the funding levels presented in the Final
Report are by no means definitive or authoritative, and the outyear
estimates are not based on 10-year projections, but are intended to set
the stage for ongoing discussion.
Question 3d. Given that NOAA will be the lead civilian ocean
agency, is it accurate to assume that most of the funding increases
would be for NOAA? If not, why not, and which agency would be involved?
Answer. We have not provided a breakdown of funding by agency,
although each recommendation is assigned to one or more primary actors
in Chapter 31 and its cost estimated in Appendix G. In some areas, such
as pollution control, marine transportation, or fisheries enforcement,
agencies outside NOAA have primary roles. One of the roles of the
National Ocean Council will be to determine the appropriate roles of
individual agencies in respects to various ocean and coastal programs
and to make recommendations for an integrated budget submission to the
Office of Management and Budget. So, while we anticipate significant
new funding for NOAA, the distribution of funding will rely heavily on
the respective roles of the various agencies.
Question 4. From the President's most recent biennial budget report
to Congress (called for in the Oceans Act of 2000): for FY 2005, the
following 5 Federal agencies have the largest budgets for ``ocean and
coastal activities'' (--which of course wouldn't include atmospheric
Department of Homeland $2.68 Billion
Department of Commerce 1.644 Billion
Department of Defense 1.385 Billion
EPA 827 million
Agriculture Department 661 million
In Oceans Act, we also directed the Commission to conduct ``a
review of existing and planned ocean and coastal activities of Federal
Does the President's Report appear to accurately depict the
relative roles of each agency in ocean and coastal activities?
Has the Commission prepared its own list of the various
ocean and coastal programs conducted by other Federal agencies?
If not, will it be in the Final Report?
If neither the Commission nor the President has compiled
accurate information on the amount we are spending on ocean and
coastal activities--and where we are spending it--how would you
recommend we get this information?
Answer. The Final Report does not contain one comprehensive list of
Federal entity ocean and coastal activities. Rather, information about
these activities is included throughout the issue-specific chapters of
the report. The Commission also recommends that the newly created
Assistant to the President, as head of the National Ocean Council
(NOC), consult with the Office of Management and Budget and NOC members
to prepare in-depth biennial reports that identify ocean- and coastal-
related programs and recommend appropriate funding levels for these
activities (Recommendations 4-4 and 30-2).
Question 5a. Also, I am puzzled that the Commission's
recommendations do not appear to be closely linked to the size of the
programs--or the magnitude of some of the problems. For example, there
are 40 recommendations for NOAA, but only 10 for DOD (limited to
education), and 2 for USDA. Given that DOD has been in the hot seat
with respect to marine mammal deaths, and polluted runoff from farms is
identified by the commission as a huge problem, this seems surprising.
Can you explain how you conducted your review of the programs of
agencies other than NOAA?
Answer. The Commission collected information from the Federal
agencies through a variety of channels, including senior administration
representative participation in our public meetings, formal and
informal meetings and conversations with agency personnel, information
provided in the Federal Ocean and Coastal Activities Report issued by
OMB in March 2003, as well as information taken from websites and
conversations with various state and nongovernmental constituents of
programs and agencies.
The number of Commission recommendations reflect the extent of
ocean and coastal activities conducted by Federal agencies, and not the
size of the agencies. The relatively low number of recommendations
directed at USDA and DOD compared to other agencies does not discount
the importance of their roles in improving the health of the Nation's
ocean and coastal resources, and closer review of the Final Report will
demonstrate a broader recognition of these agencies' involvement than
indicated in the Preliminary Report.
Question 5b. Where are the results of these reviews reflected in
your Report? Will it be in the final report?
Answer. The results of these reviews are reflected in the
explanatory text of the report and our recommendations; there is not a
separate compilation with descriptions of each program provided in the
Question 5c. Is there a need for continuing independent review of
Federal ocean and coastal programs and funding? Given that OMB has not
performed as well as we would like on the Ocean Budget report, would it
be appropriate to establish an independent body within the Federal
Government specifically to gather this sort of information?
Answer. There remains a need to prepare comprehensive reports of
these activities, including appropriate funding levels, on an ongoing
basis, as required in the Oceans Act of 2000. The Commission recommends
that the newly created Assistant to the President, as head of the
National Ocean Council (NOC), consult with the Office of Management and
Budget and NOC members to prepare these reports (Recommendations 4-4
Question 6a. The Commission makes a number of important
recommendations on the management of marine mammals and endangered
marine species, including placing the protection of all marine mammals
under NOAA. However, some parts of this chapter appear incomplete or
weak. The Commission recommended that Congress amend the Marine Mammal
Protection Act (MMPA) to require the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) to
coordinate with all relevant Federal agencies, while remaining
independent. What motivated this recommendation?
Answer. The MMC is charged with reviewing and making
recommendations on domestic and international actions and policies of
all Federal agencies with respect to marine mammal protection and
conservation. It also manages and funds a research program to support
management activities. Although the Commission's independence has been
essential to its functioning, establishment of the National Ocean
Council will provide it with a venue to coordinate with other Federal
agencies involved in marine mammal research and management. Thus, the
motivation for this recommendation is to ensure that the MMC is brought
fully into the Federal interagency coordinating mechanism established
under the National Ocean Council.
Question 6b. I did not find any discussion of the need for more
routine and robust scientific information on marine mammal and
endangered species stocks, which has been documented in other reports
to Congress (e.g., 2001 NAPA study, MMC reports). Why not?
Answer. Chapter 20 of the Final Report has been expanded and now
discusses the importance of increased research and education on marine
mammals as well as protected and endangered species. Recommendation 20-
8 states that NOAA and DOI should develop expanded research programs
focusing on research, monitoring and assessment, as well as advanced
technology and engineering programs to eliminate or mitigate human
Question 6c. I was pleased to see that the Commission recommended
that Congress amend the MMPA to place all marine mammals under NOAA's
authority. What problems did the Commission identify with the split in
jurisdiction? (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service handles some marine
mammals like manatees, and NOAA handles others, like whales)?
Answer. As noted, the management of marine mammals is currently
divided between NOAA and USFWS. This split was intended to be temporary
and makes little sense. The original Congressional committee reports
that accompanied the MMPA in 1972 show that Congress did not intend
marine mammal jurisdiction to be permanently divided between NOAA and
USFWS. Rather, House and Senate committees anticipated the creation of
a new Department of Natural Resources that would combine NOAA and
USFWS. The report stated that if the proposed new department did not
become a reality, they would reexamine the question of jurisdiction and
consider placing the entire marine mammal program within a single
department. Nevertheless, the jurisdictional split remains today and
has resulted in the establishment of separate marine mammal programs
and increased efforts to facilitate coordination.
Question 6d. I was a bit surprised that the Commission did not
offer any direction on some of the major risks to marine mammals, such
as vessel strikes (This is the biggest source of mortality for of
Northern Atlantic Right Whales, and only about 300 individuals remain
in the stock). Why?
Answer. Many human activities can harm individual marine animals,
including, but not limited to; coastal development, offshore oil and
gas exploration, vessel traffic, military activities, and marine
debris. Understanding the danger of these activities is critical to
focus attention, research, technology development and enforcement
efforts where they are most needed. Increased research into impacts on
marine mammal (including Northern Atlantic Right whales), sea turtles,
and other protected species populations will allow for more
comprehensive, ecosystem-based management--recall that the ecosystem-
based management focuses significantly on managing the impacts of human
behavior and activities. Furthermore, for activities where interaction
with protected populations is likely and unavoidable, better scientific
data will lead to more effective permitting procedures and the
development of technological solutions to minimize impacts.
Question 6e. Only one specific recommendation for increased funding
is included--for additional research on the impacts of noise on marine
mammals. Is that all that NOAA is going to need to solve all these
Answer. The Commission agrees there is need for a better
understanding of the effect of sound on marine mammals. Currently, the
U.S. Navy and, to a lesser extent, the Minerals Management Service, are
the only Federal agencies with significant marine mammal acoustic
research programs, including studies to examine the impact of noise on
marine mammals. Expanded research efforts and data dissemination are
needed to understand marine mammal interactions with sound and reduce
or prevent the negative impacts of human-generated noise on these
animals. In recommendation 20-9 the Commission recommends that a
consortium of Federal agencies, including The National Science
Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S.
Geological Survey, and Minerals Management Service expand research on
ocean acoustics and the potential impacts of noise on marine mammals.
These additional sources of support are important to decrease the
reliance on U.S. Navy research in this area. The research programs
should be complementary and well coordinated, examining a range of
issues relating to noise generated by scientific, commercial, and
operational activities. This research is necessary to assist
policymakers in making judgments and determinations on the
appropriateness of human noise generating activities in the proximity
of marine mammals.
Question 6f. I was surprised that the Report did not really discuss
endangered sea turtles and the need to bring other countries in line
with conservation requirements--even though lawsuits regarding turtles
have shut down U.S. fishing fleets while foreign fleets are decimating
them. Can the Commission comment on that problem?
Answer. In its Final Report, the Commission expanded Chapter 20 to
address issues associated with the conservation of sea turtles and the
need for international cooperation to reduce the impacts of human
activities on marine species at risk in foreign and international
waters (see recommendation 20-10).
Question 7a. The Commission recommends that funding oceans and
human health programs should be doubled to $28 million annually.
However, the draft report notes that the annual economic losses from
harmful algal blooms alone total close to $50 million with a likely
multiplier effect bringing losses to $100 million. Given statistics
such as these, do you feel that $28 million annually is sufficient
funding for oceans and human health programs?
Answer. We recommend a doubling of the existing budget of $14M for
research on Oceans and Human Health. As the program expands, additional
future investments may be warranted. In the final report we also added
a recommendation on seafood safety (Rec. 23-5) with an estimated cost
of $10M per year. It should be noted that the funding levels presented
in the Final Report are by no means definitive or authoritative, but
the Commission believes they will be helpful in setting the stage for
Question 7b. Can I assume correctly that this $28 million also
includes funding for research regarding pharmaceuticals, nutrients, and
other industrial products derived from marine organisms?
Answer. $28M is an estimate for the federal research investment.
Private investments by industry or other research institutions are not
incorporated into our funding recommendation. Again, as this program
matures it is likely that the investment of additional resources will
be necessary and beneficial.
Question 7c. Do you think this level of funding is sufficient
considering Japan has spent close to $1 billion dollars annually for
the last decade?
Answer. Again, the funding levels presented in the Final Report are
by no means definitive or authoritative, but the Commission believes
they will be helpful in setting the stage for ongoing discussions.
Question 7d. The draft report notes that only 2 percent of the 4
billion lbs. of imported seafood is inspected upon its arrival to the
U.S.--the GAO recently said it was not even that much! Will the $28
million cover any costs needed to inspect a greater portion of the
imported seafood, especially when considering that many of the
exporting countries have lower food safety standards than the U.S. and
many use hormones and antibiotics that are illegal in the U.S.? Did the
Commission look at this issue at all?
Answer. The Commission considered the issue of seafood safety and
added an expanded section on this topic in the final report in Chapter
23. We estimate an annual cost of approximately $10M for improved
inspections, which is separate from the research costs discussed above.
We also note that the spending recommended to improve water quality and
monitoring will contribute to improved seafood safety and other human
Question 8a. The Report recommends that Congress establish and
appropriate significant funding ($110 million) for an expanded national
ocean exploration program. The Commission also discusses the need for
dedicated ocean exploration platforms, such as submersibles and ships.
Would the $110 million estimate include costs for NOAA vessels?
Answer. No, that figure is for grants and operating expenses . We
provide a separate estimate of $160M to construct needed infrastructure
for the Exploration program (Recommendation 27-4).
Question 8b. What are the ``hot spots'' for discovering new drugs
Answer. The potential of the ocean in terms of bioprospecting is
vast, and there is no easy answer as to where to search for promising
new compounds. Much research has been conducted on tropical and
temperate, shallow-water species, but there is still much to be done.
Invertebrates from the deep present a relatively new source of
compounds that should be explored. In addition, all bacteria hold the
potential to biosynthesize molecules that can be utilized for human
medicines, whether they come from the water column, bottom substrate,
symbiotic organisms, or sediments (even deep sediment cores). Virtually
everywhere we can look, we should.
Question 8c. Roughly 95 percent of the ocean remains unexplored. In
your opinion Dr. Ballard, where should a national ocean exploration
program direct its efforts in the short term? Which ocean environments
and regions should be a priority and why?
Answer. The Commission did not discuss priorities for the national
ocean exploration program since these priorities would most likely
change depending on the time it takes to establish the program.
However, the NOC or COSETO would be nicely positioned to discuss
priorities when the time comes.
In addition, the commission recommends that the COSETO should
determine national oceanographic research priorities, and ideally the
Nation's exploration and research priorities should be complementary.
So, it would be logical for the same interagency group to discuss and
decide upon both.
Question 8d. Back in 2000, the President's Panel on Ocean
Exploration called for $75 million for ocean exploration. The
Commission recommends $110 million, plus infrastructure such as ocean
exploration platforms. How did the Commission arrive at this figure?
Answer. As with all our cost estimates, we used a combination of
sources including the report from the President's Panel, a more recent
study by the National Research Council, and communication with
Question 9a. The Report recommends a coordinated mapping and
charting effort, led by NOAA, to address the backlog of hydrographic
surveys, surveys of the U.S. Continental Shelf, and the lack of
integrated maps. In addition, the Report suggests the National Ocean
Council should make recommendations on consolidation of certain
federal, nonmilitary mapping and charting activities within NOAA. What
are some of the agency mapping programs or activities that may be
appropriate for consolidating within NOAA?
Answer. In its Final Report, the Commission acknowledges that there
are a multitude of Federal agencies involved in mapping and charting.
However, instead of recommending the consolidation of various programs
or activities at this time, the Commission emphasize the importance of
coordinating these activities through the Federal Geographic Data
Committee (Recommendation 25-7). More intensive Federal coordination
and evaluation of these programs may result in recommendation for
consolidation as part of Phase II, as discussed in Chapter 7,
Strengthening the Federal Agency Structure.
Question 9b. Additional resources may be needed to address survey
needs, infrastructure needs, and integrate maps. Of the $650 million
increase proposed for ocean research, does this include increases for
mapping and charting at NOAA?
Answer. In the Final Report, the cost of mapping and charting the
Nation's coasts and EEZ is estimated at $50M in year one and $200
million per year in ongoing costs (Recommendation 25-7). This amount
includes infrastructure-related costs, as well as costs associated with
the development of integrated maps. The cost for these activities and
programs is separate from the $650M for research called for in
Question 10. Recommendation 28-5 says the Navy should periodically
declassify appropriate naval oceanographic data and make it available
for civilian use. What kind of problems and delays did you identify
regarding declassification of naval data? What were the specific
roadblocks and your recommendations to fix them?
Answer. Based on concerns voiced by a variety of stakeholders,
governmental and nongovernmental, about the lack of access to naval
data, the Commission is recommending that the Navy engage in a more
regular process to review and declassify military data.
Question 11a. The Commission calls for the establishment of a
national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) with NOAA as the lead
agency for implementing and operating the IOOS. Ocean.US, with National
Ocean Council oversight, would be responsible for planning of the
system. If NOAA is in charge, what is the National Ocean Council's
Answer. The role of the NOC is one of general oversight for
Ocean.US and the entire IOOS multi-agency system. The NOC members
should be briefed on and approve IOOS plans, funding and any
expenditures of money, since the NOC represents the interest of all of
the Federal agencies and will be provided with advice from the
President's Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy. However, since the NOC
is not an operational group, the Ocean.US office will be in charge of
the daily tasks needed to implement and coordinate the IOOS.
Question 11b. The Report also recommends funding of $650 million
for implementation of [the IOOS] system. However, implementation of
IOOS will require a tremendous investment in data archiving,
assimilation, modeling and distribution systems. NOAA's data holdings
alone are projected to grow by a factor of 100 by 2017, and only 4
percent of NOAA's digital data archive is available online. Yet the
Report only proposes collaborative efforts between agencies as a way of
addressing these gaps, and the creation of a task force to develop a
plan for modernizing data management systems. Does the $650 million
estimate [for IOOS] include funds to address data management needs in
Answer. Yes, data management costs are included in the estimates in
the final report. The first year start-up costs alone include $18
million for developing data communications and data management systems
(See Table 26.4 of the Final Report).
Question 11c. Shouldn't the Commission propose funding to address
this critical need now so as to ensure the end-to-end needs of IOOS are
Answer. Yes, these are issues that need to be addressed as the
system develops. The funds for them are an essential part of the start-
up and ongoing costs. In addition, Ocean.US has already drafted their
final Data Management and Communications (DMAC) Plan and these systems,
and their associated costs will need to be continually updated as the
complete IOOS progresses.
Question 12a. The Commission has made the development of national
ocean education a priority in the draft report. The Report stresses the
importance of informal education and public outreach, and recommends
the establishment of a national ocean education coordinating office
(Ocean.ED) under a National Ocean Council (NOC) subsidiary committee
called the Committee of Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and
Operations (COSETO). The Report also recommends that NOAA establish a
national ocean education and training program to provide diverse,
innovative ocean related opportunities to college and graduate school
students. Why does the Commission believe that an interagency program
such as Ocean.ED would be the best way to further and strengthen ocean
Answer. Despite the existence of many positive efforts, ocean,
coastal and watershed education remains a patchwork of independently
conceived and implemented programs and activities. These uncoordinated
efforts cannot provide the nationwide momentum and visibility needed to
promote sustained ocean education for students, teachers, and the
general public. Within the Federal Government, there is little
discussion of ocean education, even among those agencies with the
greatest responsibility for ocean issues. Different programs and
funding mechanisms are not coordinated and resources are seldom
leveraged. Even within individual agencies, offices that have education
components often do not collaborate or communicate.
A national ocean education office, like Ocean.ED, would be able to
coordinate and integrate Federal agency programs, leverage resources,
serve as a central point of contact for K-12, university-level, and
informal education partners, and work with state and local education
experts and others to develop a vision, strategy, and coherent,
comprehensive plans for national ocean education.
Question 12b. Given that ocean education is part of NOAA's mission,
that the Report recommends that the Ocean.ED office be funded through a
NOAA line item, and that the Report recommends that NOAA create an
ocean education and training program, why shouldn't a strengthened and
better funded NOAA be the lead agency with respect to Ocean.ED?
Answer. While NOAA will play an essential role in promoting and
supporting increased ocean education, Ocean.ED is needed to coordinate
activities across government agencies and departments, including the
Department of Education. Having a central interagency office will also
provide states and other non-federal organizations a central contact
point for ocean education related questions and ideas.
Furthermore, while Ocean.ED will focus on ocean-related education,
these efforts will have a greater chance of success if they are linked
with efforts to improve education in other subjects, including natural
sciences, technology, engineering, math, and a range of social
sciences. Therefore, Ocean.ED will have a broader mandate than the
ocean education and training program within NOAA.
Question 13a. Recognizing the significant growth and congestion
issues facing the Nation's Marine Transportation System (MTS), the
Commission wisely recommends the need to address intermodal
connections--key choke points where cargo is transported from vessels
to railways, highways or airports. The Commission also recommends
improved coordination among the various agencies with oversight of the
MTS. The Commission specifically calls for the codification of the
existing Interagency Committee on the Marine Transportation System,
which is comprised of 18 Federal agencies, and names the U.S.
Department of Transportation (DOT) the lead agency on marine
transportation issues. Besides port security, what is the single
greatest challenge facing the marine transportation system today and
how does the Report address this?
Answer. One of the larger problems facing the Nation's marine
transportation system (MTS) is the inadequacy and lack of integration
among intermodal facilities, a situation that is exacerbated by the
lack of Federal coordination. The Commission recommends that DOT be
designated the lead Federal agency for planning and oversight of the
MTS, codifying the MTS, and developing a new national freight
transportation strategy that links the MTS to other components of the
transportation infrastructure (highways, railways and airports). A
further element of the strategy should include emergency preparedness,
which will allow the Nation to respond in a coordinated and rational
manner in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
Question 13b. The Report offers several recommendations to study,
analyze, or develop strategies regarding a number of MTS issues. What
specific, short-term actions can the Nation take to ensure that our
port infrastructure is capable of handling increasing cargo volume and
the ever-larger vessels moving through U.S. ports?
Answer. In addition to initiating the development of a national
freight strategy, there should be a focus on developing regional
dredging and sediment management plans to facilitate the maintenance
and, where appropriate, deepening of shipping channels to the Nation's
Question 13c. The report recommends that DOT work closely with the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security on port security issues. Why
didn't the Commission recommend that the U.S. Coast Guard retain its
co-chair position on the Interagency Committee on the Marine
Transportation System? (The report recommends that DOT chair the
Interagency Committee when it is codified. Presently, the Interagency
Committee is chaired by Coast Guard and DOT's Maritime Administration.
Coast Guard has responsibility for port security in the U.S.)
Answer. Throughout the report the Commission recommends that, where
appropriate, one Federal agency be designated as the lead entity. The
intent of this recommendation is to minimize the confusion when
multiple Federal agencies are involved in an activity, such as marine
transportation or marine aquaculture. There is no desire to minimize
the role of the Coast Guard in the MTS, and the codification of the MTS
will should result in a formalized structure that will solidify the
role and responsibilities of the agency.
Question 14. The draft Report states that coral reefs have
tremendous economic benefits, providing a worldwide total of $375
billion a year in goods and service. However, many of our Nation's
reefs are in a state of emergency. Two-thirds of all reef fish species
are overfished, and during the 1990s, white band disease killed 90-96
percent of the most common near-shore species of coral. Did the
Commission perform any estimates regarding how much revenue has been
lost due to coral reef degradation? Can we assume that the full
economic potential of our coral reefs is not fully realized?
Answer. The Commission did not estimate economic losses associated
with the degradation of coral reefs or other marine resources. Given
the substantial decline in the health of coral reefs around the Nation
and world, and the disproportionate level of biodiversity and
productivity associated with coral habitat, it is difficult to judge
the full economic and ecologic effect of these losses. However, we can
assume that their economic potential has been substantially impaired.
The importance of restoring and protecting coral resources, both
tropical and coldwater, cannot be overstated.
Question 15a. The Commission recommends strengthening the
permitting and leasing system for offshore oil and gas development.
However this change is recommended without amending the Coastal Zone
Management Act or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Why has the
Commission decided these laws should remain unchanged? Would NOAA have
a central role in reviewing proposed uses for environmental and
Answer. The Commission has not made a recommendation to strengthen
the permitting and leasing system for offshore oil and gas development.
It does recommend that the National Ocean Council and Regional Ocean
Councils establish a balanced, ecosystem-based offshore management
regime that coordinates both existing as well as emerging offshore
activities. It also suggested that the OCSLA statutory and regulatory
regime for oil and gas exploration and development is comprehensive and
broad and could serve as a model for individual and perhaps a
comprehensive regime taking into consideration a number of different
variables associated with both new and emerging offshore issues. The
Commission does recommend strengthening the CZMA with respect to the
development of state management plans that are consistent with national
and regional goals. NOAA will continue to play a central role in
reviewing proposed uses in offshore waters through its extensive
statutory responsibilities associated with the CZMA, ESA, MMPA, MSFCMA
and consulting role under numerous other statutes and regulations.
Question 15b. Does the Commission feel that the Federal-state
revenue sharing program will have any significant effect on the Federal
budget? In times of deficit such as these, would the program have to be
altered, with a higher percentage of revenues going back to the Federal
Answer. The proposed Federal-state revenue sharing program will
impact the Federal budget since oil and gas revenues are not a new
funding source, but would result in the redirection of these funds to
ocean and coastal related activities. The Commission feels strongly
that revenues generated in offshore waters should be used to protect,
maintain and restore the Nation's coastal and ocean resources and
environment. The design of such a funding regime is clearly within the
jurisdiction of Congress; however, the dedication of a stable revenue
stream for ocean and coastal programs and activities is of critical
importance if the Nation is to successfully make the transition toward
ecosystem-based management. Also, most of the money in the Ocean Policy
Trust Fund, recommended by the Commission, would go to Federal agencies
to implement the Commission's recommendations.
Question 16. The report recommends a modernization fund for
critical ocean infrastructure and technology (such as ships,
submersibles and environmental sensors). How much money out of the
proposed $760 million in annual ocean science, research and education
funding should be directed to this fund?
Answer. Infrastructure and technology are considered separately
from research in the report and are assigned a separate budget. To
upgrade and modernize science-related infrastructure (Recommendation
27-4), we estimate a cost of approximately $200M per year. However,
Chapter 27 does not attempt to provide a comprehensive review of all
marine-related infrastructure and technology needs and costs. Rather,
it highlights several key areas where improvements in Federal planning,
coordination and investment are sorely needed. Thus, we have not
included an estimate for the cost of upgrading the operational ocean
and coastal infrastructure of the Federal Government, such as agency
fleets, satellites, laboratories, and other Federal facilities. (See
Appendix G, 27-5.)
Question 17a. The Report recommends that state coastal zone
boundaries be expanded landward to encompass coastal watersheds. Can
you elaborate on the effect that extending the coastal zone boundaries
will have on state enforceable policies and Federal consistency? Did
the Commission intend to require the states to expand all current CZMA
requirements up the watershed or were more gradual, voluntary models in
mind for these upland areas?
Answer. Because of the interrelated nature of coasts and upland
watersheds, activities in coastal watershed areas have the potential to
affect the health of ocean and coastal resources. For this reason, the
Commission recommends extending the boundaries of state coastal
management programs under the CZMA to include these coastal watersheds
(Recommendation 9-1). It will be up to each state--in consultation with
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the administering
agency of the CZMA--to determine how best to incorporate the management
of these new areas in their coastal programs and policies.
Question 17b. What types of incentives will be provided to states
to implement conservation measures in coastal and upland watersheds?
Answer. The Commission stresses the importance of improving the
linkage between watershed and coastal area management, including
recommending that state coastal management programs extend their
boundaries under the CZMA to incorporate coastal watersheds
(Recommendation 9-1). The Commission also recommends that the CZMA be
amended to create a dedicated funding program to support partnerships
among state and local governments and private-sector partners to
perform coastal and estuarine land conservation activities throughout
the areas included in the state programs (Recommendation 11-1).
Question 18. The report recommends that states provide periodic
assessments of their coastal resources--in essence a ``State of the
Coast'' report for each state. Will the funding for these assessments
come from the doubling of the science funds that the Commission
proposes or from the Ocean Policy Trust Fund? Do you have an estimate
of what these assessments will cost?
Answer. These assessments would be funded by existing state funding
and the $1 billion allocated to states from the Ocean Policy Trust
Fund, complemented by information collected with or by Federal agencies
and private partners. The cost for the assessment will vary by state
and the geographic area they must cover.
Question 19. The Report recommends changes to Federal
infrastructure programs to discourage development in fragile coastal
areas. How can we be successful in linking transportation and other
Federal infrastructure investment to state and local growth management
Answer. An overarching theme of the Commission's report is the need
to move toward ecosystem-based management of the Nation's ocean and
coastal resources, which includes coordinating the efforts of multiple
entities within a geographic area to better consider the cumulative
impacts of their activities. An important step in coordinating these
efforts is to establish national, regional, and state goals aimed at
achieving economically and environmentally sustainable development (see
Recommendation 9-3). Regional coordination of Federal agency
activities, along with the establishment of regional ocean councils and
regional ocean information programs, as recommended in Chapter 5, would
greatly improve Federal project planning and implementation.
Question 20a. The Commission raised a number of important points in
its discussion of international oceans policy, and generally supported
the need for the U.S. to work with other countries to ensure that the
U.S. and global marine ecosystems are well-managed. It also recommended
that an existing inter-agency working group, led by State Department,
be brought under the leadership of the proposed White House NOC.
However, the discussion and recommendations fell short of
addressing some of the pressing international issues and improvements
in the interagency process, that are necessary to ensure that U.S.
international oceans policy is effective. For example, while the
Commission reiterated its strong recommendation that the U.S. accede to
the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), it did not discuss
any of the recent international fisheries treaties that have been
negotiated, nor the need for strong international agreements on marine
mammals and turtles.
Answer. Chapters 19 and 20 in the Final Report have been expanded
to include discussions on managing international fisheries, including
recommendations for strengthening, and where appropriate, expanding
these agreements to provide the necessary protection for endangered or
threatened marine resources.
Question 20b. The Commission recommended that an existing inter-
agency working group, led by the State Department, be brought under the
proposed National Ocean Council. It also recommended that the expertise
of the resource agencies be more effectively brought to bear on the
shaping on U.S. international positions. Could you elaborate on the
need for these proposals?
Answer. Within the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of State is
the lead agency for most international negotiations. However, the role
of more specialized agencies is extremely important due to the
scientific and resource focus of many multilateral ocean issues. For
example, living marine resources are primarily the responsibility of
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the U.S. Coast
Guard generally takes the lead in developing and enforcing vessel
safety and environmental protection regulations; the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency does the same in mitigating pollution from land-and
water-based sources; and the U.S. Trade Representative has a role in
the interface of international trade and ocean policy. Consistent
application of a wide range of expertise is essential both to establish
international ocean standards that reflect U.S. interests, and to make
certain that subsequent actions by the United States and others are in
accordance with those standards. A new mechanism is needed to provide
improved coordination among U.S. agencies that share responsibility
for, and knowledge about, international ocean issues. Since the early
1970s, various interagency groups have attempted to address these
issues, most recently as a subcommittee under the National Security
Council's (NSC's) Global Environmental Affairs Policy Coordinating
Committee. While the NSC subcommittee should continue to focus on
specific security-related issues, the National Ocean Council will be a
better home for a broad interagency committee dealing with all facets
of international ocean policy.
Question 20c. I was also pleased to see recognition by the
Commission that conservation and environmental objectives are
legitimate elements of international trade policy. Do you also agree
that conservation and environmental objectives are legitimate elements
of domestic trade measures, as we have done with the shrimp-turtle law
that has been upheld by the WTO?
Answer. In its Final Report, the Commission clarifies that the U.S.
should continue to press for the inclusion of environmental
objectives--particularly those specified in international agreements--
as legitimate elements of trade policy.
Question 20d. This is consistent with the Law of the Sea as well,
as I recall? (NB: The State Department has said this in Senate FRC
hearings). I was surprised that the Commission did not discuss in this
section the need for strong international agreements on marine mammals
and turtles. What can the Commission tell us about this problem? What
about the need to develop international institution capacity, since
neither the FAO, the IWC or the IMO really deal with these issues
across the board?
Answer. As mentioned above, the Final Report discusses the need for
improved international efforts to protect marine mammals, turtles,
seabirds and other protected species. Chapter 29 also includes a
recommendation (29-8) specifically directed at building international
Responses to Written Questions Submitted by Hon. Trent Lott to
Admiral James D. Watkins
Question 1. Admiral, the Commission report advocates requiring
governors of states with representation on Regional Fisheries
Management Councils to provide the Secretary of Commerce with a Council
nomination choices that represent both commercial and recreational
fishing interests. I certainly think that is appropriate for the Gulf
of Mexico, where the catch is evenly split between those groups.
However, different regions have different levels of recreational and
commercial participation. Would you support a goal or requirement that
the distribution of recreational and commercial appointees on a region
council more accurately reflect the distribution of the fishing catch
between those two sectors?
Answer. The Commission recommends that Governors be required to
submit a broad slate of candidates for each vacancy. This process will
help ensure that RFMC membership is balanced among competing user
groups and other interested parties, and that fishery management plans
reflect a broad, long-term view of the public's interests. Identifying
the best mix of council members will require knowledge of the Federal
fishery management process and an understanding of other factors
affecting ocean ecosystems. This expertise resides in the NOAA
Administrator, not the Secretary of Commerce, who is currently
responsible for appointing RFMC members.
Question 2. The report recommends strengthening the application of
the Magnuson-Stevens Act national standards to regional council
fisheries management plans, but I think does not account enough for the
real differences in each region's fisheries. After all, that is why the
Magnuson-Stevens Act established regional fisheries management
councils. Admiral, do you agree that the councils need to have
flexibility to manage their fisheries to account for regional-specific
Answer. The Commission fully appreciates and supports the need for
regional flexibility. However, the uneven application of the current
national standards by the regional fishery management councils in the
past, and the impact this had had on fisheries resources, indicates a
need for clearer guidance on the parameters within which the Councils
Question 3. Admiral, I understand the Commission's interest in an
ecosystem-based approach to coastal and ocean management, however, I
have some concerns. The designation of an ecosystem should be limited
to as narrow an area as possible. Otherwise, we end up with the same
problem as trying to identify essential fish habitat under the 1996
amendments, which turned out to be the entire Gulf of Mexico for many
species. If the entire EEZ and landside watershed is an ecosystem, you
aren't going to manage fisheries better, you'll make it too complex to
manage anything. Do you agree?
Answer. In its recommendation that the Nation move toward an
ecosystem-based management approach, the Commission recognized the need
to better define what constitutes an ecosystem. The designation of
Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), which are generally congruent with the
jurisdictions of the Regional Fishery Management Councils, provides a
logical starting point for regional discussions on how best to manage
areas--or ecosystems--with these LMEs. However, determining the
relative size of the ecosystem to manage will depend significantly upon
the geographic extent of the impact(s) of the activity under
consideration. This point further emphasizes the need for flexibility
in evaluating and implementing regionally-based ecosystem management
Question 4. Admiral, the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishermen
support the idea of an IFQ system to manage that fishery, but they have
been concerned about whether the imbalanced Gulf Council would create a
fair system. That is why I insisted in 1996 that they participate
through referendum in the decision on whether to use IFQs, including
whether they approve of what kind of IFQ system the regional council
comes up with. Do you support giving fishermen this kind of direct
voice in the use of IFQs?
Answer. The Commission believes that IFQs or other Dedicated Access
Privileges should only be adopted after adequate public discussion and
close consultation with all affected stakeholders, to ensure community
acceptance of a dedicated access plan prior to final Regional Fishery
Management Council approval. This process may, or many not require a
Question 5. Admiral, It's clear that NOAA is difficult to manage.
On the one hand, the Congress directs NOAA spending to a degree not
experienced by any other agency, and on the other hand, it constantly
has to fight lawsuits protesting its decisions, mostly filed by
environmental groups. Maybe better use of science will help, but many
of these lawsuits are related to the quality of NOAA's process for
making and documenting its decisions. While organizational changes such
as those the Commission advocates would elevate the importance of NOAA
programs, it seems to me that the problems may run deeper into the
organization's bureaucracy. How do the Commission's recommendations
address these concerns?
Answer. The Commission does not offer specific recommendations
addressing NOAA's internal bureaucracy or organizational decisionmaking
processes. However, the Commission does strongly believe that NOAA's
entire structure, leadership, and staff should be oriented to support
the effective exercise of the three functions identified in Chapter 7
of the report. Beginning with a strengthened science program and a more
service-oriented approach, NOAA should be organized not only to improve
its efficiency, but also to promote inclusiveness and a commitment to
meaningful partnerships with other agencies, states, the private
sector, and the academic community. The realignment of NOAA's
organization to address its core functions, and greater emphasis on
cooperative interaction with its partners, should help minimize
existing internal procedural and organizational concerns.
Question 6. Admiral, the Commission visited NASA's Stennis Space
Center in Hancock County, Mississippi. Stennis is home to more than 30
resident agencies, many of which actively support missions aligned with
the Commission's recommendations, including the Navy, NOAA,
universities, and private sector technology firms. Stennis has the
largest contingent of oceanographers in the world, as well as
facilities for the transmission, management, and storage of large
volumes of data. There is also technology development and remote
sensing expertise. Do you think that Stennis would be a suitable
location from which to manage and store coastal and ocean observation
Answer. Chapter 28 recognizes the unique capabilities at Stennis
and the Commission recommends (Recommendation 28-2) that NOAA and the
Navy establish an information management partnership that marries the
strengths of the two agencies. The facilities, expertise and
capabilities at the Stennis Space Center suggest that it would be a
suitable location to store and manage ocean and coastal observation
data nationwide and this role should be more fully considered as part
of the development of a National Virtual Ocean Data System