National Ocean Policy
The National Ocean Policy creates, for the first time, a comprehensive national framework to coordinate efforts to ensure that the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes are healthy, resilient, safe, productive, understood and treasured to promote the well-being, prosperity, and security of present and future generations.
The United States enjoys exclusive environmental and economic jurisdiction over approximately 4.5 million square miles of ocean. In 2004, the United States “ocean economy” generated $138 billion and 2.3 million jobs (National Oceans Economic Program 2004). Despite the importance of the ocean to our economy, security, and future, the U.S. has been lacking a comprehensive strategy for effectively addressing and mitigating threats to our oceans and managing our oceans in a manner that effectively coordinates efforts across agencies and authorities.
On July 19, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13547, establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes (National Ocean Policy). The Executive Order established a National Ocean Council which has issued strategic action plans for nine national priority objectives.
One of the national priority objectives is to implement comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) and management in the United States. CMSP is a planning process that helps us to determine how our ocean and coastal resources can be managed now and for future generations.
CMSP is already working in the United States. Some examples include:
- Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan
- Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan
- Oregon’s Ocean Resources Management Plan
The CMSP can increase certainty and predictability in planning offshore activities, including commercial and recreational fishing, renewable energy, and ecosystem protection and restoration. For example, knowing where commerce traffic and commercial fishing traffic are in Massachusetts state waters can reduce conflict between these two uses, increasing human and vessel safety.