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National Ocean Policy Coalition Newsletter

I. Obama Administration Announces New Ocean Protection Executive Measures
II. Sec. of State Kerry Advocates for Marine Protection at Ocean Conference

III. Protected Areas, Climate Change Central Themes at Capitol Hill Ocean Week
IV. NOAA Establishes New National Marine Sanctuary Nomination Process
V. Northeast RPB Releases Documents Ahead of Workshop & Meeting


I. Obama Administration Announces New Ocean Protection Executive Measures
 
In conjunction with the U.S. State Department-hosted “Our Ocean” conference held earlier this week, President Obama announced a series of new U.S. actions that he said will help protect the ocean and coasts.

In a video message to conference participants, Obama
said that he is “going to use my authority as president to protect some of our most precious marine landscapes, just like we do for mountains and rivers and forests.” 

Specifically, he announced that the federal government would immediately consider how it might expand protections near the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean.  According to the White House, the administration will first consider stakeholder input before making a final decision about the geographic scope and extent of future protections.

The New York Times
reported that White House officials said they have not decided under which authority the monument would be expanded and that they would solicit input over the next several months before taking final action. 

The Washington Post
noted that the proposal is expected to take effect later this year, and referenced independent analyses that indicate the expansion would increase the size of the monument from ~87,000 square miles to almost 782,000 square miles.  The Post added that while the monument is situated in an area with little economic activity, the designation is likely to face opposition from U.S. tuna fleet operators in the region.

The Post also reported on comments by White House Counselor to the President John Podesta that a public comment period to take place over the summer will provide the Departments of Commerce and Interior with an opportunity to “fully understand the commercial activity out there” and, if necessary, make modifications to the proposal.


In addition to the marine protection area expansion, the following new executive measures were also mentioned in a White House fact sheet:

  • Establishment of a comprehensive framework to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud in the U.S. and globally; effort to be led by new presidential task force that will report to the National Ocean Council; framework implementation recommendations are due within 6 months, with implementation beginning upon receipt of presidential guidance on recommendations
  • Commitment to have Northeast and Mid-Atlantic marine plans out the door by the end of President Obama’s second term; White House says the plans “help balance coastal use issues including fishing, energy, and marine transportation with the interests of communities, ensuring maximum benefits for all” and “will allow fishing and coastal communities from Maine to Virginia to meet diverse needs and establish priorities for the use of their ocean areas, while making them less vulnerable to economic shocks and the resilience of climate change”
  • NOAA’s final rule establishing a new process for public nomination of U.S. national marine sanctuaries (see details below in Item III)
  • White House Office of Science and Technology Policy release of white paper on ocean acidification
  • $102 million in competitive grants (Interior Department) that are intended to restore flood plains and natural barriers, such as marshes and wetlands along the Atlantic Coast
  • Federal agency completion of work on a new roadmap for streamlining the shellfish aquaculture permitting process
  • National Science & Technology Council’s Committee on Science release of a new National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research

II. Sec. of State Kerry Advocates for Marine Protection at Ocean Conference
 
During the U.S. State Department-hosted “Our Ocean” conference held earlier this week in Washington, DC, U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry
called ocean stewardship “a universal requirement all across this planet” and referred to ocean protection as a “great necessity.”  He specifically expressed concern about “unsustainable fishing practices,” “unprecedented pollution,” and the “devastating effects of climate change.”
 
In calling for a comprehensive global ocean strategy, Kerry endorsed new marine habitat protections, calling for increasing the percent of the global ocean considered to be a marine protected area from less than 2% to 10% or more “as soon as possible.”  Along with a commitment to conserve at least 20% of coastal ecosystems that provide “critical ecosystem services” by 2020, this goal (also with a 2020 deadline) was included in an “Our Ocean Action Plandocument that outlines announcements made at the conference.
 
Kerry later said that the conference generated over $1.45 billion in ocean action commitments, stating that the new commitments mean that “we’re potentially on the verge of protecting more than 3 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean.”  He also noted that “we intend to put meaning behind our words with actions, and you will see a very significant effort to follow up over the course of the next months.”
 
Kerry also called for requirements on fisheries to use gear and techniques that “dramatically reduce” species caught by accident and discarded, ending fisheries subsidies, making it “near impossible” for illegally-caught fish to reach markets, reducing marine debris, decreasing land-based nutrient runoff, better understanding the acidification impact of carbon pollution on the ocean, seeking a United Nations agreement to address carbon pollution, and ensuring enforcement of agreed-upon measures.
 
Other announcements by Kerry throughout the 2-day event included the following:
  • U.S. Departments of State and Energy will each contribute $320,000 to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) new international coordination center in Monaco in order to “help kick” their study on ocean acidification effects into “even higher gear.”
  • IAEA contributions are part of ~$2 million that Departments of State and Energy will together contribute to support IAEA’s ocean and marine projects
  • U.S. and New Zealand will continue to work closely on shared priorities, including moving forward with a proposal to establish the world’s largest marine protected area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea
  • NOAA will contribute over $9 million over the next 3 years to the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network
  • U.S. is committed to supporting sustainable fisheries through the international Port State Measures Agreement
  • Chile intends to host an Our Ocean conference in 2015
On Day 2 of the conference, Kerry added that “we will have more to announce, I promise you, in the near future.”  He also called energy policy “the solution to climate change,” calling for “triggers that excite the investment and excite the marketplace itself to move” and stating that “we have any number of problems that could be cured by energy policy that makes sense” (specifically citing extreme poverty and terrorism that results). 

During the conference, the State Dept.
announced a new “mFish” partnership between its Office of Global Partnerships and GSM Association.  The initiative will utilize a mobile technology platform to provide real-time information that the State Dept. says will improve communication among fishermen, managers, and the seafood industry, provide access to information, and allow for seamless data sharing.  According to the State. Dept., the information can help with data collection and analysis, illegal fishing monitoring, seafood traceability, and fishing safety.

In addition, actor and conference attendee Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $7 million for “meaningful ocean conservation projects” over the next two years, adding that “this is our moment to move forward to protect our oceans…working together, we can create and strengthen existing marine reserves that benefit coastal communities as well as the health of the world’s oceans and its life-giving resources.”
 
Following the event, the State Department published the conference commitments in an
Our Ocean Action Plan and Our Ocean Initiatives.
III. Protected Areas, Climate Change Central Themes at Capitol Hill Ocean Week
 
Last week’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2014 featured a series of announcements and discussions that focused significantly on marine protection and the subject of climate change. 
 
Statements and announcements of interest are included below, followed by detailed session-by-session summaries.
 
White House Counselor to the President John Podesta cited the need to “double down” on efforts to protect the ocean and announced NOAA’s unveiling of a final rule establishing a revamped process under which the public will be able to nominate sites for potential designation as national marine sanctuaries (see Item IV in the newsletter for details on the new process). 

 
As to the new nomination process, Asst. Sec. of Commerce for Conservation and Management/NOAA Deputy Administrator Mark Schaefer said that he suspects NOAA will receive a number of nominations.  U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) noted her desire to see new marine sanctuaries added to the list, U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) said it will provide an opportunity to see what the marketplace thinks and put the process in the hands of the people, and The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Seascape Director Merry Camhi said that she hopes to eventually see a national marine sanctuary in the Mid-Atlantic.
 
In addition, U.S. Sen. Levin (D-MI) said he would soon be introducing the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Assessment Act, which would involve working with communities to assess areas with special resources in order to develop a set of recommendations for potential sanctuary designations. 
 
Podesta called the establishment of marine protected areas one of the best solutions for preserving ocean ecosystems, stating that the President is committed to using the remainder of his term to support marine conservation and that the new NOAA process for national marine sanctuary nominations marks the beginning of a new chapter in ocean conservation. 

Podesta also said Pres. Obama would make some announcements at the State Dept.-hosted Our Ocean conference, while Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli hinted at upcoming announcements related to marine protected areas (see Item I of this newsletter for details on this week’s presidential announcement).
 
In the absence of congressional action, Podesta said that local, state, and federal levers that can be pulled to address what is happening with the oceans (citing Climate Action Plan and proposed greenhouse gas emission rules and calling greenhouse gas emissions probably the greatest threat to the ocean).  On that note, in referencing the proposed carbon pollution rules, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) said that he hopes to see more executive actions to deal with climate change.
 

On the National Ocean Policy in particular, Podesta said that the National Ocean Council and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Bodies are committed to having marine plans “out the door” by the end of President Obama’s second term, while U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) in part noted his history in writing ocean policy legislation and commended Pres. Obama’s “boldness” in enacting 90% of it by Executive Order.
 
With regard to the Arctic, Podesta said that U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council (beginning in 2015) will provide an opportunity to ensure the integrity of the Arctic ecosystem and raise awareness of the Arctic environment, while Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli called for learning from the past and charting a course that protects the region while recognizing that there will be some development and making sure that things happen in a way that is least impactful. 

 
In response to a question, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Acting Director Cruickshank said that there is a shared goal and intent for energy activity in the Arctic not to result in environmental damage and that to date,  when activity has taken place, industry has done everything they’ve been asked to do, and sometimes more, to minimize impacts.  Asked about how to manage excitement about the Arctic and concerns about moving too fast, Cruickshank said that things won’t move too quickly because infrastructure will have to be built, and that as activities proceed, there will be time to figure out what should be allowed or placed off limits.
 
Regarding the Arctic, Pew Charitable Trusts’ Executive Vice President and Managing Director for Pew Environment Group Joshua Reichert called for avoiding further stress in the Arctic by freezing the footprint of fishing and enacting precautionary measures that provide buffers.
 
U.S. Interior Sec. Sally Jewell called climate change the defining issue of the nation, called sustainability and taking care of the planet a team sport that includes roles for the public and private sectors, and spoke about interconnectedness between and impact of land-based activities on the ocean (citing agriculture operations, oil and gas activity in the Bakken, and salmon movements between fresh and saltwater). 
 
During his remarks, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that oceans are sending screaming alarm signals from virtually every corner and that it is necessary to attend to the warning signs.  He also shared his belief that the door is not quite closed to congressional action on climate change, stating that action has been blocked by a “barricade of lies” supported by polluting industries and predicting that the “climate denier” position is “near collapse.”
 
DAY 1 SUMMARY

 
Opening Keynote
 
John Podesta, White House Counselor to President Obama, delivered the opening keynote address.  Among other things, Podesta said that the oceans are in trouble and cited the need to double down on efforts to protect the ocean. 
 
After discussing the goals and intent of the National Ocean Policy and conveying the White House’s commitment to support Regional Planning Bodies in their efforts to develop marine plans, Podesta announced that the National Ocean Council and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Bodies are committed to having marine plans “out the door” by the end of President Obama’s second term.  Podesta referenced the marine plans as “game changers” that will provide valuable lessons to other regions. 
 
Podesta also announced that NOAA would unveil a final
rule on June 19 to establish a revamped process under which the public can nominate sites for potential designation as national marine sanctuaries.  He said the action will allow NOAA to better address local support for marine protected areas and be a tremendous organizing opportunity for communities to build support for protecting their own lands.  Podesta called the establishment of marine protected areas one of the best solutions for preserving ocean ecosystems, stating that they help build resilience to climate change, protect from storm surge through the protection of coral reefs, and maintain biodiversity. 
 
In addition, Podesta stated that President Obama would “make a few announcements” when he addresses next week’s State Department-hosted
Our Ocean conference by video.
 
Podesta also noted President Obama’s pledge that 2014 will be a year of action and a year of the pen, stating that the President is committed to using the remainder of his term to support marine conservation and that the new NOAA process for national marine sanctuary nominations marks the beginning of a new chapter in ocean conservation.
 
Other comments of interest included the following:
  • Administration is committed to support growth of the national economy, and that is the essence of the National Ocean Policy
  • U.S. facing a novel threat from climate change, and we need to understand what that means for the ocean ecosystem, including through investing in observational capacity and technology
  • U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council (beginning in 2015) will provide an opportunity to ensure the integrity of the Arctic ecosystem and raise awareness of the Arctic environment
  • In the absence of congressional action, there are local, state, and federal levers that can be pulled to address what is happening with the oceans (citing Climate Action Plan and proposed greenhouse gas emission rules and calling greenhouse gas emissions probably the greatest threat to the ocean)
  • Regarding expanding the knowledge base of the ocean, the most important element involves coastal communities moving together to build public support into a campaign through organizing and public communications
  • Federal agencies are completing work on a new roadmap for efficient permitting for shellfish aquaculture
  • Responsible fisheries management is crucial for the economic health of fishing communities and the U.S. at large
  • Fishery stock rebuilding plans based on good science can support a strong economy while ensuring long-term resource sustainability
  • Congress should promptly pass Magnuson Stevens Act reauthorization legislation that maintains strong conservation measures

State of the Ocean
 
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Sen Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that the oceans are sending screaming alarm signals from virtually every corner, specifically citing disappearing ice sheets, ocean acidification and warming impacts on coral reefs, declines in pelagic species, toxin/heavy metal concentrations in major marine mammals, the health of the bottom of the food chain, the departure of winter flounder in Narragansett Bay, RI, and the “garbage gyre” in the Pacific.  He stated that it is necessary to attend to the “terrible warning signs,” adding that the oceans “tell us the truth” and that sea levels are rising in an unprecedented way due to carbon.

 
In terms of congressional action on climate change, Whitehouse also said that he believes that the door is not quite closed, and cited polling results of young Republican voters and another poll which he said indicated 70% support for President Obama’s climate action program.  Stating that progress has been blocked by a “barricade of lies” that are supported by polluting industries, Whitehouse said that the collapse of the “climate denier” position is near collapse.
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: Aquarium of the Pacific President and CEO Jerry Schubel, Ph.D
Panelists: Margaret Davidson, NOAA National Ocean Service Senior Leader for Coastal Inundation and Resilience; David Conover, Stony Brook University Interim Vice President for Research; Scott Doney, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Ocean and Climate Change Institute Director; and Tony MacDonald, Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute Director

 
The moderator began the discussion by noting that the ocean and human relationships with it are changing (citing warmer ocean temperatures, more acidification, sea level rise and coastal population vulnerabilities, and the need for more renewable and conventional energy, food, shipping, and fresh water). 
 
The panel then had an exchange about the knowledge value chain (from data to information to knowledge to wisdom to action) and where the value chain breaks down.  Panelists cited challenges moving from information to knowledge and from wisdom to action, communicating what is learned from data and information, and accounting for change. 

Among other things, they called for bridging the gap between data/information and action and engaging stakeholders regarding decisions about what problems scientists should address and how to address them and collect data.  Panelists also noted that important action often takes place at non-national levels e.g. NGOs, private sector, academic community, states, localities.
 
Concerns were expressed about inadequate investments in science and funding for high-risk research, with one stating a need to transform the way science is funded and examine the ratio of investments between facilities and people.  In addition, the need to make connections between people and local places was noted.

 
Asked about how to make a difference in the world ocean over the next 10 or so years, among other things panelists called for engaging people on science (including by working with fishing and coastal communities to involve them in data collection), developing “scientist citizens,” identifying existing problems and determining how to correct them for the future, conducting public education, and using hope and inspiration to galvanize public interest and action (including through the use of art, literature, and religion/evangelical outreach).  One also noted NOAA’s work with the Commerce Department to create a leading ocean economic indicator.
 
Panelists identified recommendations for ocean management over the next year, including supporting the National Ocean Policy over the next 12-24 months in order to ensure that it will be supported by the next administration (while noting that it may have flaws and not be as bold as some had hoped for), dedicating a portion of a proposed National Endowment for the Oceans for innovation incentives, and changing the culture for how academic scientists are trained.
 
Climate Realities: Preparing for the Worst?
 
U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) talked about the need to address the threat of climate change.  In doing so, he discussed the California drought and the impact that it has had on salmon and marine mammals and fishing communities/groups that depend on them.  Rep. Huffman also talked about ocean acidification and the need for a holistic approach that involves drought relief legislation and proposed carbon pollution rules, among other things.  In referencing the carbon pollution rules, he said that he hopes to see more executive actions to deal with climate change.
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: NOAA National Ocean Service Assist. Administrator Holly Bamford
Panelists: Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker; U.S. Navy Oceanographer and Navigator Rear Admiral Jonathan White; Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Assoc. Administrator for Mitigation Roy Wright; University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Dean Michael Castellini; and Reinsurance Association of America President Frank Nutter
 
The moderator began the discussion by referencing “climate realities” including California’s drought in 2013, increasing numbers of disasters, increased sea level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surge, increased coastal development and populations, and the absence of new species moving into warmer waters where other species have left. 
 
Asked for their perspective on the greatest challenge to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, panelists cited politics and a lack of political will, the lack of public understanding about the consequences of the environment (and a need to communicate the economic and health benefits that the environment can provide), the need to ensure that citizens have urgency to a degree that decision-makers will respond, geopolitics, and making decisions and decisions to act.  Additional challenges later cited included the absence of a clear connection between what matters to people e.g. jobs and climate change (noting a need to convey that failing to act will cost jobs and livelihoods), and the partisan nature of discussions about climate.
 
Panelists were then asked about incentives to provide people to make changes now in the face of climate change.  Panelists responded by referencing risk-based insurance policies, pricing signals, and looking at the long-term horizon e.g. 2050 when committing federal dollars to development projects.  Asked about protecting military shoreline infrastructure, Rear Adm. White noted that the Navy is using a 3-tiered risk assessment approach (with in-depth analyses where necessary) to make sure that facilities are prepared for 2100 (referencing solutions including sea walls, levies, and infrastructure displacement).
 
Panelists also discussed how to better forecast and communicate ocean acidification and impacts on food security, the connection between food security and national and global security, the impact that local sources can have on acidification in local areas, the need for more funding for remote sensing/monitoring, opportunities for funding at the state level, the need for data at the legislative/congressional district level to spur legislative action, and the need for both short- and long-term risk analysis for climate mitigation.

 
Asked to identify one key action/recommendation to move climate mitigation forward, panelists called for a more cohesive approach to the prediction of what will happen with the ocean and climate (single predictive system), getting people to ask ‘what can I do to help?,’ taking the discussion out of the beltway and into communities, acknowledging progress when it is made, placing conditions on the use of federal funds, identifying groups that people associate with and engaging them to equip them for engagement with decision-makers, educating policy-makers at all levels of government, but particularly at the state legislative level (since many of them will go on to Congress), and providing political cover and applying political pressure.
 
U.S. Action on the Global Stage
 
U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) discussed challenges with the oceans and marine systems and the value of ocean and coastal resources to the U.S.  He expressed his desire for science-driven policy, transparency in how funds are spent, accountability, adequately factoring in economic value as well as environmental health in decision-making, and public buy-in.
 
Rep. Wittman discussed the effectiveness of conservation programs including the North American Wetlands Conservation Area program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  He also called for devoting resources to the development of good science for management decisions in the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act, and discussed the importance of making sure habitat is preserved through community and state-based efforts.  Rep. Wittman also talked about the challenges of meeting needs with constrained resources, citing the benefits of partnerships and contribution of outside resources and time.
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: The National Geographic Society’s Senior Director for Ocean Policy Monica Medina
Panelists: U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli; Bumble Bee Seafoods President and CEO Chris Lischewski; North American Marine Environment Protection Association Founding Chairman Clay Maitland; and Oceans Five Program Director J. Charles Fox
 
The moderator began the discussion by asking Under Secretary Novelli about the State Department’s “Our Ocean” conference.  Novelli noted the conference’s three themes (sustainable fisheries, ocean acidification, and marine pollution) and said that they want to involve every layer of society going forward.  She added that they believe they can form consensus on what needs to be done in these three areas and plan to announce commitments of the U.S. government of things that will be done in the near future.  Novelli said they looked forward to tangible results from the conference.
 
Later asked about the importance of marine protected areas, Novelli said that they were extremely important.  In addition to the State Department working with others in the Obama Administration, Novelli said that other countries have been working on the subject as well and that the U.S. is in position to make some announcements on that.
 
Bumble Bee Seafoods President and CEO Chris Lischewski said that while they fully support scientifically justified marine protected areas intended to protect specific species and monuments, he said that they do not support efforts to merely set aside large swaths of the ocean for no other reason than to create a no-go area for fishing activity.
 
In addition to discussing their preference for U.S. Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, successes and challenges related to addressing illegal fishing (including successful industry efforts on seafood traceability), and the potential for new technology to change ocean governance and management (Novelli said an app should be available soon that will inform artisanal fishermen where it is okay to fish, and that an app is being worked on that would help shellfish farmers by monitoring the movement of ocean acidification), panelists also discussed their views on the U.S. role for the Arctic. 
 
Under Secretary Novelli called for learning from the past and charting a course that protects the Arctic while recognizing that there will be some development and making sure that things happen in a way that is least impactful.  Others called for increasing the U.S. icebreaker fleet and satellite capabilities.
 
Asked what government, companies, and individuals can do to promote ocean conservation and uses globally, panelists cited implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (11 countries onboard, 25 needed), industry efforts to work with retailers who are pushing sustainability, public outreach through social media, remote education to build public opinion that influences decision makers, tackling illegal fishing, and individual decisions to only purchase sustainable seafood, not throw trash into the ocean, and volunteer for cleanup efforts.
 
Asked about their view of the ocean in 10 years, panelists expressed optimism that progress could be made in areas including illegal fishing (one was pessimistic about such progress in Asia), the Law of the Sea Treaty, and addressing pollution issues through the use of technology.  The moderator also expressed her desire for marine protected areas across the globe.
 
DAY 2 SUMMARY
 
Cultural Reflections on the Water
 
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) discussed the Great Lakes’ Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which he said has enormous support.  With regard to NOAA’s proposed expansion of the sanctuary, he said that he hopes the expansion will be announced in September.  Sen. Levin said that the small community of Alpena, MI has been burgeoning since the establishment of the sanctuary, and that the sanctuary has provided significant economic and educational benefits to the region.
 

Sen. Levin also discussed the new NOAA rule re-establishing the sanctuary nomination process.  On that note, he said he would soon be introducing the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Assessment Act, which would involve working with communities to assess areas with special resources in order to develop a set of recommendations for potential sanctuary designations.
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: Paula Johnson, Smithsonian National Museum of American History Curator
Panelists: The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Seascape Director Merry Camhi; AECOM Vice President for Coastal Protection and Restoration Steve Mathies, Ph.D.; Mt. Haleakala National Park Manager Timothy Bailey; and Saint George Traditional Council President Christopher Merculief
 

Merculief discussed his experience as a resident and commercial fisherman in Alaska and the cultural experience that exists in his community.  He talked about changes he has witnessed over the years and his support for establishment of a marine protected area in order to preserve the region’s resources.  He said that stewardship is key, and talked about how commercial fishermen take care not to overfish and use all their catch.
 
Bailey talked about the practice of following the footsteps of their ancestors in order to provide solutions to changes impacting Hawaii.  He also discussed connections between the land and the ocean, and cited a need for a global discussion on climate change.  Bailey said that while the tools are in place to address climate change, it is an open question whether people are ready to make the sacrifices necessary to deal with it.
 
Camhi talked about New York City’s connection with the ocean (and provided background on The Wildlife Conservation Society’s marine conservation program, and its New York Seascape initiative in particular.  She noted efforts to create a new vision for New York City as an “Aquapolis,” adding that balancing the needs of wildlife with economic and cultural issues is a challenge.  Camhi also said that low public awareness about the region’s marine environment has resulted in a lack of marine protected areas, stating that she hopes to eventually see a national marine sanctuary in the region. 
 
Mathies discussed the history of the formation of coastal Louisiana, the cultural history of the area, and the significant economic benefits that the region provides to the U.S. (citing oil and gas, fisheries, ports).  He said that the people in coastal Louisiana understand the impacts of climate change, and talked about the importance of wetlands in mitigating storm damage.  Mathies stated that large scale efforts to address climate change impacts will require clearly communicating the benefits of doing so and ensuring that people are not left out.
 
During Q&A, panelists discussed how to communicate cultural/traditional importance of marine areas and cultural traditions/value to the general public and younger people, translating communications into policy change and support, and how to address pushback to marine sanctuaries.  Asked what they want to see going forward, panelists cited public support for a national marine sanctuary in the Mid-Atlantic, engaging the public in stewardship, and maintenance of the coastal Louisiana land mass in place as is (supporting economic activity, culture, and communities).
 
Communities Shaping Special Places
 
U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) discussed how communities shape special places and talked about his support for preserving special places in Michigan.  Benishek referenced the recent designation of a wilderness area, a national park in Lake Superior, and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  In doing so, he noted his deep respect for maritime heritage and said that such areas have significant local community impacts and benefit the economy.
 
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) noted her desire to see new marine sanctuaries added to the list.  Capps said that we are blessed with underwater treasures, referencing the national marine sanctuary program and her observation that each sanctuary contributes to a national network.  In addition to serving as protective areas for marine life, she said that national marine sanctuaries provide research, education, and economic benefits.  Capps stated that she was happy to see NOAA’s announcement about the re-establishment of a sanctuary nomination process, adding that she is proud of the inclusive way in which sanctuaries are managed to promote multiple uses in a stakeholder-driven way.
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: NOAA Asst. Sec. for Commerce for Conservation and Management Mark Schaefer; NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries West Coast Regional Director William Douros; IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Marine Vice Chair Dan Laffoley; The Nature Conservancy’s Managing Director for Oceans Lynn Hale
 
Asst. Sec. Schaefer said that special places are important to economies and ecosystems, calling them critical for fisheries, food supplies, jobs, resiliency, and habitat.  He said that despite efforts to date, coastal and marine habitat health is declining and that the rate of decline is accelerating (citing wetlands and coral reefs).  Schaefer stated that the value of coastal and marine habitat needs to be raised so that those resources are conserved and not lost.  He also cited federal initiatives including the National Estuarine Research Reserve program, national marine sanctuary program, and the new rule re-establishing a sanctuary nomination process (stating that he suspects NOAA will receive a number of nominations)
 
Laffoley discussed the theme of a global ocean and stated that the world can turn a corner with the oceans through actions taken by communities.  He said that the hard part is working with communities to make sure that sites matter and called for bringing science to the table in a different manner.  Laffoley also added that he hopes NOAA’s new marine sanctuary nomination process will be replicated by other countries around the world.
 
Hale talked about the importance of place in the context of conservation, and also cited a need to expand the vision of what makes a place great in order to expand the universe of great places.  She also said it is important to understand and talk about ecosystem services in concrete terms that reflect specific values of nature and explain why such values should be preserved or restored.  Hale said that mapping the ocean’s wealth would change and expand the paradigm and ultimately sustain and protect nature for nature as well as people.
 
Douros spoke about the notion of place, stating that people are energized by the power of place because they represent powerful memories that are expandable through time and space.  He also talked about involving people in decisions, including through sanctuary advisory councils, working groups, and the new nomination process.  Douros said that the sanctuary management review process is very inclusive, which he said is essential to the program’s success.  He also said that the new sanctuary nomination process may change the discussion around the world and that he is excited about the coming dialogue.  Douros also mentioned the importance of place-based education learning.
 
During Q&A, panelists talked about special places that stand out as particular conservation/recreation success stories, the importance of communications in spotlighting special places in the face of funding/resource constraints, how to help those in special places who are impacted by stressors of a global nature (and the impact that addressing local stressors can have on special places), ways for recreational groups to get involved in promoting special places, and raising public awareness of sanctuaries to a new level.
 
Rethinking Business as Usual for our Ocean
 
U.S. Interior Sec. Sally Jewell
 
In a keynote address, U.S. Interior Sec. Sally Jewell said that water is part of our soul and who we are, adding that Pres. Obama recognizes that and citing his establishment of the National Ocean Policy and National Ocean Month proclamation. 
 
Jewell said that the Interior Department is an important steward of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and that they work hard to manage activities under their jurisdiction in a compatible way.  She also said that lessons were learned from the Deepwater Horizon incident and that energy and mineral development is an important source for the nation’s economy.  Jewell noted that the economy depends on the ocean and coasts (citing recreation and the economic contributions of domestic offshore oil and gas activity), cited the Arctic as a very important ecosystem, and said that every DOI agency plays a role in ocean stewardship.
 
Jewell called climate change the defining issue of the nation, and said that climate change is why she took the job of Interior Secretary.  She stated that everyone has to work together to address it, and said she is proud of EPA’s proposed power plant emission rules.  She said that regulation (and taxation to an extent) enable business choices related to climate change and spur private sector innovation.
 
Jewell also discussed recent travels where she says she witnessed climate change impacts firsthand, noted the 3rd National Climate Assessment’s discussion about the ocean (rising temperatures, acidification, and habitat loss), and talked about the role of the federal government in science.  Calling sustainability and taking care of the planet a team sport that includes roles for the public and private sectors, she also talked about DOI’s role in solutions (citing DOI $100M
grant announcement for building/leveraging natural ecosystems, new opportunities for offshore renewable energy leasing, and work with NOAA on ocean-related science).
 
In addition, Jewell talked about the interconnectedness between and impact of land-based activities on the ocean (citing agriculture operations, oil and gas activity in the Bakken, and salmon movements between freshwater and saltwater). 
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: Conservation International’s Seascapes Program Senior Director Keith Lawrence
Panelists: Ecosystem Investment Partners’ Partner and Director of Research for Policy & New Markets Adam Davis; JetBlue Airways Head of Sustainability Sophia Mendelsohn
 
Davis talked about the role that his private equity firm plays in investing at the intersection of effective ecological restoration and efficient compliance with environmental law such as the Clean Water Act.  He called mitigation banking an important opportunity and said that his firm’s business model requires government enforcement of existing laws (e.g. Clean Water Act’s no-net loss provision).
 
Mendelsohn talked about sustainability in terms of customers on JetBlue flights, the flights themselves, and the communities that they serve.  She called sustainable practices good long-term planning for business and the bottom line as well as for people.  Mendelsohn noted that JetBlue is conducting analysis to determine how much revenue the airline receives from passengers flying to the Caribbean (which she said makes up 1/3 of their route structure) for the ocean/beach experience, and that they will ultimately ensure that routes are married with destinations featuring healthy ecosystems.
 
During Q&A, the panelists discussed opportunities to consider compliance-based restoration projects in marine waters and non-U.S. areas, how to achieve scale and greater reach, lessons learned, JetBlue’s use of product branding to further sustainability, and trends, changes, and looking ahead.
 
Energy Evolution: Seeking the Next Boom
 
Moderator: E&E TV Managing Editor and Host Monica Trauzzi
Panelists: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Acting Director Walter Cruickshank; Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno; Center for Offshore Safety Executive Director Charlie Williams; and Deepwater Wind Vice President of Permitting and Environmental Affairs Aileen Kenney
 
Acting Director Cruickshank talked about the energy and economic contributions of offshore production, discussed the importance of making sure that they get the best information possible, and talked about how a better understanding of other uses allows for an understanding of what the conflicts are and how they might be able to manage them.  He also noted that it is a very dynamic time in the offshore renewable sector BOEM’s recent and upcoming offshore wind--related activities.
 
Director Salerno discussed activity at BSEE amid the current energy revolution, noting the advent of new technologies and how BSEE keeps up with the rapid changes taking place, the importance of safety culture and the human element and the development of the Safety and Environmental Management Systems rule, and the agency’s work on risk.
 
Williams talked about the role of the Center for Offshore Safety and its focus on Safety and Environmental Management Systems and building business systems and processes that continuously deliver safety.  He also discussed post-Deepwater Horizon measures that have been taken to further increase the safety of offshore activity. 
 
Kenney talked about Deepwater Wind’s projects and plans for offshore wind offshore the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.  In doing so, she noted that it is critical to plan properly with the appropriate stakeholders around the table and said that marine spatial planning efforts that previously took place will benefit future development in a separate area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts where the company has proposed a 200 megawatt project.  She later added that support for marine spatial planning comes from foundations and agencies and that it lays a framework and brings people together early on to discuss goals and what people would like to see, ultimately informing BOEM.
 
During Q&A, among other things panelists discussed the following:

  • Importance of public communication
  • Status/goals regarding the offshore drilling permitting rate
  • Challenges and opportunities related to the Arctic (Cruickshank said that infrastructure has to be built and that as activities proceed there will be time to figure out what should be allowed or placed off limits; he also stated there is a shared goal and intent for activity not to result in environmental damage and that to date, when activity has taken place, industry has done everything they’ve been asked to do, and sometimes more, to minimize impacts)
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s upcoming activities
  • Successes related to offshore oil and gas technology
  • Government-industry coordination
  • Science, data, and information gaps and data-sharing
  • Industry’s role in environmental research
  • Economic opportunity associated with offshore energy resources
  • Permitting roadblocks for offshore renewable energy
  • Resource potential for offshore renewable energy
  • Applicability of the Safety and Environmental Management Systems rule to non-oil and gas activities e.g. renewable
  • Implications for offshore wind as a result of the proposed power plant emissions rule
  • Offshore wind-related policy needs
  • Well casing durability
  • Offshore wind and navigational safety
  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement interagency coordination on oil spill preparedness/response

DAY 3 SUMMARY
 
The Future of American Fisheries
 
U.S. Rep. Jaime Butler (R-WA)
 
Prior to the panel discussion, U.S. Rep. Jaime Butler (R-WA) talked about the economic contributions of the commercial and recreational fishing sectors and the importance of the nation’s waters and ocean to the Pacific Northwest and the country at large.  She also stated that the economy and environment are not mutually exclusive, and spoke about the significance of science-based decision making, frequent stock assessments, and coordination with industry, noting that better science is needed to protect the maritime economy and environment. 
 
Rep. Butler said that the nation is on the right track with regard to fishery management, stating that 91% of fisheries stocks are no longer depleted.  She also spoke about her efforts in the House to secure funding for the coastal salmon recovery fund.  In addition, Rep. Butler noted that many decisions are made at the local level and talked about the importance of partnerships. 
 
Panel Discussion
 
Moderator: Center for American Progress’ Ocean Policy Director Michael Conathan
Panelists: NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Asst. Administrator Eileen Sobeck; Forbes-Tate Senior Vice President George Cooper (representing American Sportfishing Association); National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly; Seafood Harvesters of America President Chris Brown; Chef and Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program Director Barton Seaver
 
In discussing challenges and opportunities going forward for fisheries management, Asst. Admin. Sobeck said that the commercial and recreational fishing sectors deserve credit after a long and arduous journey in which the nation has come a long way.  She stated that U.S. fisheries are now overwhelmingly managed on a sustainable bases, and with regard to red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico, stated that solutions are being sought that would work for the recreational community.  Sobeck called for exporting U.S. fishery management successes to the rest of the world.
 
Going forward, Sobeck said fishery management will include addressing climate change, taking a more ecological approach, dealing with bycatch, and working with recreational fishing partners to address their needs and interests.  She stated that some actions can be taken through Magnuson Stevens Act reauthorization, while others can be taken under existing authority.
 
Asked how the Magnuson Stevens Act reauthorization process is going, Brown said that the Act is and has worked and that its scope does not need to be expanded.  He also added that flexibility is a poor substitute for greater understanding, adding that some stocks will continue to be problematic regardless of management measures and that strict adherence to science principles is the only thing that will work.
 
In terms of challenges for recreational fishing, Cooper discussed the recent report and recommendations from the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), and the report’s vision for what well-managed fisheries would look like.  He noted the desire for a moment of synchronicity with Magnuson Stevens Act reauthorization to recognize recreational fishing, and cited disappointment with draft House reauthorization language while calling the draft Senate language excellent and noting that it addresses nearly all of ASA’s recommendations.  Connelly noted the success of the Magnuson Stevens Act, and said he was fairly comfortable with the House language and that he looked forward to adjustments to the Senate bill.
 
Other topics discussed by the panel included the following:

  • Public health benefits associated with seafood consumption
  • Role of the health community in communicating those benefits and related efforts to engage insurance companies
  • Opportunities and challenges associated with consumption of less well-known fish and other marine animal protein
  • How to increase the supply of fish in the face of increasing demand (mentioned aquaculture, habitat protection, ecosystem-based management)
  • Concerns about the intersection of commercial fishing and recreational fishing management
  • How red snapper catches should be allocated among commercial and recreational fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Concerns about distinctive standard for commercial and recreational fishing
  • Role of sustainability and science in fishery management
  • Certification for sustainably caught seafood
  • Seafood traceability
  • Need for good data/science and related public resource challenges and industry efforts,
  • Importance of aggressively communicating the success of the Magnuson Stevens Act
  • Potential alternative recreational fishery management measures (e.g. managing by harvest rates or relative abundance)
  • Opportunities and challenges associated with combating illegal fishing
  • Impact of climate change on fishery management

The Ocean and Human Health
 
Moderator: University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Professor D. Jay Grimes
Panelists: National Science Foundation’s Chemical Oceanography Program Director Donald Rice; Marine Mammal Commission Asst. Scientific Program Director Samantha Simmons; Eisai, Inc. Vice President for Process Research and Development Frank Fang
 
Rice discussed the human benefits provided by the ocean, citing oxygen, water for evaporation, regulating the Earth’s heat content, and its ability to absorb carbon dioxide.  In addition, he said more attention is being paid to ocean contaminants, specifically referencing cosmetics, hormones, mercury, and lead, and said that there are ocean hazards as well.
 
Simmons said that marine mammals provide a nexus for understanding ocean changes and implications for human health.  She cited examples surrounding seals and mercury levels (which she said indicates a larger and more difficult problem with mercury exposure), sea lion strandings in California (which she said suggests toxic impacts of terrestrial runoff), and the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in marine mammals.  Simmons noted Marine Mammal Commission work with the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Geological Survey, efforts to make marine mammal health information available through the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, and the need to include an ocean health metric in the Ocean Health Index.
 
Fang discussed the pharmaceutical benefits associated with ocean resources, providing background on the development of a drug used to combat late-stage breast cancer.  He said that the direct link between the ocean and human health is not always appreciated because of the time that it takes to approve a new drug, but said that biodiversity in nature plays a large role.
 
During Q&A, panelists discussed sources of mercury in the ocean and related threats, whether some health issues affecting marine mammals are due to climate change (and if so, whether they are warning signs for humans), whether aquaculture poses potential human health impacts, possible implications for marine life resulting from the Fukushima incident (said that detected levels do not warrant a public health concern), funding, and how aquariums can contribute to marine mammal research.
 
Blue News: Casting a Wider Net
 
Moderator: National Press Club Journalism Institute President Barbara Cochran
Panelists: NBC Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson; Trip Advisor’s Director of Brand Marketing Maura Welch
 
Asked what stands out about ocean reporting, Thompson discussed the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) incident in 2010, adding that while there are safeguards, a recent Chemical Safety Board report shows that blowout preventers are not fail-safe and that as a country we apparently have decided that this is an acceptable risk.  She also stated that we do not know the long-term impact of dispersants and said that it may be another 5-6 years before the DWH impacts are known. 
 
Thompson also later discussed her dismay with messages she receives from the public, specifically citing people who she said think climate change is a scam.  She said that if the nation switches to a green economy, certain fossil fuel jobs will go away, and said that it scares such individuals if they do not see opportunity.
 
In response to a question about why Trip Advisor is involved in the ocean, Welch said that the company is interested in the happiness people get from their trips, which she said is often connected to the ocean.  She also noted their website’s travel forum, which she said included traveler discussion and concern about the Gulf of Mexico spill.
 
Panelists also discussed the following:

  • How to make sure that information (including ocean-related information) is accurate and complete and how blue issues fit into the media landscape
  • What they are doing to engage audiences about the ocean (Thompson said sea level rise is a big topic, while also mentioning coastal erosion, overfishing, and ocean health (citing DWH and ocean acidification))
  • Big environmental news stories on the horizon (cited coastal erosion and sea level rise, with Thompson stating that we are living climate change in real-time and may have to think about how we live with and long the ocean and about what is good for the ocean, which she said may involve difficult choices)
  • Reporting challenges (logistical and 24 hour news cycle phenomenon) and opportunities (ocean is a source of food and filled with charismatic creatures)
  • How to attract new and younger audiences
  • Keeping public attention following a disaster
  • Ways to inform the public about ocean issues
  • Balance between tourism and environmental safety
  • Ease of selling environmental success stories

Leadership Roundtable: Charting the Course
 
Moderator: Washington Post White House reporter Juliet Eilperin
Panelists: U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA); Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere/NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan; Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Vice President for Legislative Affairs for Space and Missile Defense Programs Scott Gudes; World Ocean Council Founding President & CEO Paul Holthus; Pew Charitable Trusts’ Executive Vice President and Managing Director for Pew Environment Group Joshua Reichert; Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s Sant Chair for Marine Science Nancy Knowlton
 
The roundtable began with NOAA Admin. Sullivan discussing how NOAA is helping communities prepare for climate change (specifically mentioning storm forecasts, habitat restoration science, and work with other agencies on rebuilding efforts to provide storm surge protection).
 
Panelists were next asked about the path forward on ocean issues, including the potential role of Congress.  Rep. Farr said it’s a “struggle” and talked about efforts to use the appropriations process to halt actions including National Ocean Policy implementation, adding that all politics is local and that local organization is very powerful.  He stated that he hoped Capitol Hill Ocean Week “means goodbye to ignorance.”
 
Gudes, who previously served as Acting NOAA Admin., added that NOAA has unnecessarily and wrongly become a wedge issue, that science needs to be the focus, and that a positive solution needs to be reached by examining the effects.
 
In response to a question about Pres. Obama’s record on the oceans and related challenges ahead, Reichert responded favorably by citing the new NOAA rule re-establishing the sanctuary nomination process and progress in fisheries management.  Going forward, he said that more U.S. marine areas can be protected and talked about challenges including illegal fishing/vessel interdiction in the open ocean and global warming.
 
Asked about challenges and opportunities in the Arctic and appropriate policy responses, Holthus discussed the importance of addressing ocean issues through science and good data and information to drive science and responsible activity.  He noted that industry, government, and NGO’s all want good data/science, and noted data-sharing agreements between energy companies and federal agencies.  He also mentioned World Ocean Council efforts underway to promote sharing of data/science regarding activities in the Arctic and beyond.
 
In responding to a question about challenges dealing with how to balance the economy and environmental protection, Knowlton talked about the importance of public opinion and need for better communication about the benefits of the ocean and conservation successes, while Rep. Farr called for more emphasis on value and developing the economics of the ocean. 
 
Reichert stated that many of the challenges involve a lack of political will and that it is much easier to address problems when they haven’t reached a state of crisis, while Holthus discussed successes obtained by industry and individual companies (stating that linking economic activity and the interest of good people/companies can lead to what is needed for a safe, sustainable ocean environment).
 
Asked about roles for the private sector to promote ocean health, Holthus said that companies should lead the way and that government should incentivize such efforts, adding that promotion of ocean health cannot just rely on protected areas and enforcement.  Gudes cited industry efforts related to renewable energy and fisheries, Rep. Farr talked about increasing insurance company scrutiny of ocean-related policy coverage requests, and Knowlton discussed public consensus and how it can influence corporate decisions.
 
Panelists were also asked about the National Ocean Policy, including what is needed to ensure it continues under the next administration.  Admin. Sullivan said she expected some movement over the next 2 years, specifically referring to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and her belief that their activities will help make valuable touchstones.
 
Rep. Farr discussed his history in writing ocean policy legislation and cited Pres. Obama’s “boldness” in enacting 90% of it by Executive Order.  Farr also said he hoped that prohibition language would be removed from appropriations language.
 
Holthus said that while people and companies have been interested in understanding the opportunity and substance of the National Ocean Policy, it has been difficult to build trust and recover from what some saw as a lack of adequate proactive outreach to the business community during the early stages of National Ocean Policy development.  He added that some companies that want to see many aspects of the policy moving forward have kept a low profile.
 
Gudes noted that the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative plans to conduct regional roundtables with stakeholders to discuss what is happening in the regions, while Reichert talked about the need for better public communication about the consequences of inaction.
 
Asked about differences between National Marine Sanctuaries Act and Antiquities Act designations, Admin. Sullivan said each have different pathways and that NOAA works closely with the Interior Department on both approaches.  Rep. Farr and Reichert expressed gratitude that both authorities are in place, with Farr stating that the new sanctuary nomination process will provide an opportunity to see what the marketplace thinks and put the process in the hands of the people.
 
Other topics discussed included opportunities for U.S. leadership to ensure a healthy global ocean, chances for U.S. Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, ocean management in the Arctic and Arctic best practices (with Reichert calling for avoiding further stress by freezing the footprint of fishing and enacting precautionary measures that provide buffers), addressing local stressors to buy time for addressing climate change/ocean acidification impacts on coral reefs, commercial/recreational fishery management, and ocean trash.


IV. NOAA Establishes New National Marine Sanctuary Nomination Process
 
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries last week
issued a final rule establishing a new process for the nomination of new national marine sanctuaries whereby communities can submit nomination applications for NOAA consideration and potential designation.  Communities are defined as a collection of interested individuals or groups; local, tribal, state, or national agencies; elected officials; or topic-based stakeholder groups at the local, regional, or national level.
 
NOAA will begin accepting nominations when the rule takes effect on July 14, and says that nominations should demonstrate broad support from a variety of stakeholders and interested parties.  Nominations will be evaluated against 4 national significance criteria and 7 management considerations.

 
One management consideration is that “adverse impacts from current or future uses and activities threaten the area’s significance, values, qualities, and resources,” and NOAA says nominations should place special emphasis on the consideration related to the existence of broad-based community support by a broad range of interests.  For nominated areas located “in proximity” to state or tribal lands, NOAA says it will discuss the nominations with interested state or tribal governments during its review.
 
Nominations deemed to have met NOAA’s criteria and considerations may be placed in an inventory of areas for future consideration for designation.  Nominations and NOAA determinations on whether to add nominated sites to the inventory will be posted online at
www.noaa.nominate.gov.
 
NOAA estimates that nomination reviews will take 3-6 months, but notes that additional time may be necessary for more complex nominations.  With regard to the decision on whether to begin the designation process for areas added to the inventory, NOAA
says it will weigh factors including internal and external resource availability, other management priorities, and public support.  Nominations added to the inventory will expire after 5 years in the absence of designation action.
 
In discussing public comments it received in support of the new rule, NOAA notes that it “concurs” with public comments it received in support of the new rule that, among other things, expressed “concern[] about potential impact to the marine environment from oil and gas activities, and the role new national marine sanctuaries could play in helping to mitigate negative impacts.” 
 
NOAA also addressed the limitation on the designation of new sanctuaries included in the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, stating that it will address that issue when it considers a nomination for designation in the future. 
 
Although it is replacing the Sanctuary Evalution List (SEL) mechanism with a nomination process, NOAA notes that its action is consistent with the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan’s goal to reactivate the SEL.

NOAA says that the new nomination process represents “a more grassroots, bottom up” approach compared to the former approach that is says tended towards an “agency-driven, top down” approach.


V. Northeast RPB Releases Documents Ahead of Workshop & Meeting

Ahead of its June 25 Natural Resources Public Workshop and fourth official public meeting on June 26, The Northeast Regional Planning Body has released workshop and meeting agendas, a draft marine life assessment summary to be discussed at the workshop, and a draft document containing options for technical and stakeholder advisory mechanisms that will be discussed at the meeting.
 
The Northeast RPB says that workshop participants will (1) inform options for characterizing marine mammal, sea turtle, bird, and fish distribution and abundance for use in ocean planning; and (2) discuss a review of existing regional efforts to identify areas of ecological importance or measure the health of the marine system and consider the applicability of such assessments for ocean planning.
 
In addition to public comment opportunities, the RPB says that the June 26 meeting will include an update on ongoing planning activities, including efforts to identify options for interagency coordination and the use of regional data, as well as consideration of options for technical and stakeholder input into ocean planning decisions.

Established in 2012 pursuant to the National Ocean Policy Executive Order, the Northeast RPB was formed to develop a coastal and marine plan for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  NROC is a regional ocean partnership that was formed in 2005 by the Governors of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.


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