A landmark day for the ocean



On another front, the task force's recommendations focus on ocean acidification. As the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the air, seawater is becoming more acidic. Ocean life that relies on calcium in the water-crustaceans, shellfish, coral-is at real risk as this fundamental shift in ocean chemistry spreads. 

Likewise, President Obama has made it clear that clean, renewable energy is key to the future for our country. With the task force report, he has acknowledged that the ocean plays an important role in meeting this challenge. Before we proceed, however, we need a clear plan for using the ocean to fulfill these growing clean energy needs.

Last week's action clearly demonstrates that the Task Force plans to deliver on this vision by using science to guide decision-making and by basing any such decisions on what is best for the health of the ocean. The recommendations set the stage for a more productive, higher-level engagement from our federal government on the way we conserve and benefit from our ocean.  We now look to the new National Ocean Council to follow through on its mandate, to deliver on the recommendations.
 
In December, the Task Force is expected to release recommendations for Marine Spatial Planning-a system for comprehensive management of how we use and conserve our ocean.  Like urban sprawl on land, the demand for space in our ocean and on our coasts is growing. Renewable energy, commercial fishing, recreation, offshore drilling and shipping are all competing for space.  Marine Spatial Planning can bring order to the ocean and provide a framework for balancing ocean conservation and other interests.  We look to Congress to legislate the use of Marine Spatial Planning in all federal waters.

With this renewed focus on ocean health, I believe the tide is finally turning on ocean health. Undoing years of mismanagement will not be easy, but with the support of Congress, the Obama administration, the Task Force, and the results from the National Ocean Council, we can create a healthier ocean-we can start a sea change.

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