At the direction of President Obama, the National Ocean Council created a draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan to address some of the major threats facing the Great Lakes, our oceans, and our coasts.
The draft plan is a huge first step in tackling problems such as pollution, ocean acidification, and habitat loss but it could still be improved.
Please urge the National Ocean Council to finalize a robust ocean action plan that protects, maintains and restores our oceans' health.
I am pleased to see a strengthened definition for ecosystem-based management guiding the plan's work and urge you to even more clearly state this plan's primary and ultimate goal -- to protect, maintain and restore the health of our oceans' natural ecosystems.
One critical way to ensure healthy ocean resources is to identify and protect important ecological areas and processes. Certain areas of the ocean host important habitat for endangered species or serve as critical areas for spawning, breeding and feeding marine life. Places like these are part of our ocean heritage and need to be protected, now and for the future. I urge you to ensure the regional ocean plans are based on scientifically sound ecological assessments and help protect our natural ocean ecosystems. These assessments should be undertaken immediately to direct future restoration and protection efforts.
Additionally, I recommend that the plan advance the timelines for actions related to jumpstarting ecosystem-based management, preventing harmful impacts to water quality, and protecting and restoring marine habitat. The plan also should include more near-term actions that go beyond planning and will make a difference in the water. Our oceans need immediate action to restore and protect their health.
Thank you again for your work on this important effort to ensure a healthy future for our oceans and the millions of people who depend upon them.