The USA made modest progress in 2006 on ocean policy reform, but the progress that has been made is jeopardized by a lack of funding at all levels of government.
The US’s overall grade rose very modestly to a C-, up from a D+ average in 2005, according a report from the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. They were judged very poor in international leadership, research, science, education and new funding for ocean policy and programs.
“Addressing climate change is a high priority for most Americans, and although the climate and oceans are inexorably intertwined, the critical role oceans play in climate change is seldom addressed,” said Admiral James D. Watkins, co?chair of the Joint Initiative. “Our failure to increase ocean science investments to learn more about this link and how to manage its impacts means we are trying to fight climate change with one arm tied behind our back.”
Incremental improvements in Research, Science, and Education resulted in a slight grade increase to a D+, up from a D for 2005. Although sophisticated monitoring systems have been in place for decades to measure changes in the atmosphere, no such systems exist for our oceans. The report card, echoing the administration’s research plan, calls for the implementation of an Integrated Ocean Observing System to learn more about the ocean’s role in climate change.
The United States remains the only industrialized nation that has failed to accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, earning a grade of D? for International Leadership. Environmental groups and major U.S. industries such as offshore energy, shipbuilding, and maritime commerce agree that signing onto the convention will help to protect U.S. economic interests as well as the health of our oceans.
State leadership and fisheries management earned grades of A? and B+, respectively. States emerged as important champions for oceans in 2006, establishing new statewide initiatives in New York and Washington as well as regional agreements to coordinate ocean management efforts on the West Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission to catalyse ocean policy reform. The Initiative is guided by a ten-member Task Force, five from each Commission, led by Admiral James D. Watkins (U.S. Navy, Ret.) and the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, chairs of the U.S. Commission and Pew Commission, respectively. A primary goal of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative is to accelerate the pace of change that results in meaningful ocean policy reform.
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