Pallone Says Ocean Commission Report Signals Major Step Towards Fixing Ocean

Apr 20, 2004

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), ranking Democrat on the House Fisheries, Conservation, Wildlife and Ocean Subcommittee, issued the following statement today regarding the release of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's long-awaited report detailing the state of the oceans and its resources, and recommendations for a new national ocean policy framework.

"The Commission's report sends a clear message that can no longer be denied: our oceans and coasts are in serious trouble and need a major management overhaul to reverse course. Unless major changes are made in the way we manage our oceans and coasts they will continue to be jeopardized by pollution, depletion of fish and other marine organisms, habitat destruction and degradation, and the introduction of non-native species."

"The report rightly concludes that the management of our oceans and coasts needs to involve state and local stakeholders, and recommends improving state and local involvement by giving them central roles in the management process. I welcome the report's suggestions to strengthen state coastal and watershed management programs; develop regional goals and priorities, and better coordi nate access and input with the federal agencies.

"This is a gigantic step towards improving the outdated system of managing our ocean and coasts. Although the report is largely complete, it only signals the beginning in the long road ahead to finally restoring our oceans and coasts for our nation's future. To begin, we must improve the design and implementation of new and existing ocean observation systems, increase scientific input into policy decisions, and increase our participation in an integrated national ocean policy while considering that humans are part of the ecosystem."

The Oceans Act of 2000 created the 16-member, independent commission and is chaired by Retired Admiral James Watkins. It is the first review of marine issues in 30 years and has established findings and developed recommendations for a new comprehensive national ocean policy. The recommendations addressed issues such as: ocean governance, stewardship of marine resources, pollution prevention and enhancing marine science, commerce and transportation. The Commission heard testimony from hundreds of stakeholders and concerned citizens who expressed the need for the states and local governments to play a more important role in the management and use of the ocean and coasts. An executive summary can be found at https://oceancommission.gov/documents/prelimreport/overview_summary.pdf.