WHOI Waypoints: Ocean Commission Recommends a Sea Change


alling for a new governance framework, more investment in marine science, an ecosystem-based approach to ocean management, and a new stewardship ethic for all Americans, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy presented its final report to the White House on Sept. 20, 2004.

The 610-page “Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century” offers 212 recommendations for a new national ocean policy. The Commission was established through the Oceans Act of 2000, and several WHOI scientists participated in the Commission’s Science Advisory Board, including Andy Solow, Director of the Marine Policy Center, Ken Brink, Senior Scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department, and Bob Gagosian, President and Director.

The Commission’s recommendations are organized into three major themes:

• To improve decision-making, promote effective coordination, and move toward an ecosystem-based management approach, a new National Ocean Policy Framework
was recommended. Commissioners promoted the strengthening of the federal agencies tasked with ocean
research, improved coordination of ocean research and management
activities, an enhanced regional approach to ocean issues, and coordinated governance of offshore waters.

• The Commission made strong recommendations that sound scientific information should be available for—and applied to—decision-making. The group called for significant new investments in science, exploration, and data collection, as well as promotion of efforts to more reliably turn data into useful management information.

• The Commission strongly emphasized the need to strengthen ocean education at all levels and to improve national science literacy.

By law, President Bush had until Dec. 20 to respond to the report, but Congress started its deliberations in the summer of 2004, holding hearings and introducing more than 20 bills to implement various recommendations. The report is likely to be an important focus when Congress reconvenes in February. Read more at: