Obama’s Ocean Policy Plan Recognizes Boating And Fishing

By Rick Lydecker
Published: October/November 2010

The final report of the president’s newly unveiled ocean policy plan acknowledges the importance of recreational boating and fishing to the nation and national economy; establishes a National Ocean Council; and sets in motion a new regional approach to the use and protection of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters. The draft of this plan, which had been released for public comment back in September 2009, at first had little mention of recreational uses of the oceans, leading BoatU.S. to meet with administration officials, along with other organizations, to emphasize the critical contribution of time-honored recreational pursuits such as boating to the nation’s quality of life in the final report. The administration listened; the final report, released July 19, includes some 50 references to “recreation,” including boating and sportfishing.

“At this point it is far from clear how these processes will affect boating,” said BoatUS Vice President for Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “We will continue to advocate for boaters and their access to the water as well Obama’s Ocean Policy Plan Recognizes Boating And Fishing as access on the water.” She encouraged boaters and anglers to stay informed on these issues by regularly visiting www.BoatUS.com/gov.

The report, and a presidential executive order signed the same day, also makes “marine spatial planning” a priority for managing new and possibly competing ocean uses — such as offshore wind farms and aquaculture facilities — as well as traditional uses. It establishes a regional approach to such planning, and divides the nation’s ocean and Great Lakes shorelines into nine regions with proposed planning bodies that would include federal, state, local, and tribal interests. Over the next year, the National Ocean Council plans to organize these regional bodies, develop “action plans” for the process, and aims to have integrated marine spatial plans in place nationwide by 2015.

Speaking at the July 19 White House announcement, U.S. Coast Guard Vice Commandant Sally Brice O’Hara emphasized the key role of the regional bodies: “Whether it’s transportation, getting people to the beach, recreation in boats, fisheries, or commercial shipping, all have to be heard in the process.”