White House’s New National Ocean Policy a Welcome Sign, But Lacks Assurances to Protect Our Oceans

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 658-5308 or miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

White House’s New National Ocean Policy a Welcome Sign, But Lacks Assurances to Protect Our Oceans

SAN FRANCISCO - Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the
Center for Biological
Diversity, issued the following statement today in response to the Obama

administration's Final
Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force
,
which
would
establish a "National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts,
and Great
Lakes" and create a new governing body for oceans called the National
Ocean
Council:

"Our oceans
are in urgent need of a coordinated approach for their conservation and
management, and this new national policy is a step in the right
direction. Our
oceans face numerous threats, from overfishing and pollution to climate
change
and acidification. The policy announced today acknowledges that our
country
needs to initiate a comprehensive program to ensure healthy and
productive
oceans and coasts for generations to come.

"The Obama
administration's proposal creates a governance structure for the
management of
the oceans and sets out a program for marine spatial planning - which,
like
zoning on land, would designate certain areas for diverse uses such as
drilling,
fishing, shipping and protection. But the proposal lacks guarantees for
conservation and biodiversity protection. And the overwhelming need for
prevention of climate change and ocean acidification is also overlooked
by the
policy. Instead the Obama administration focuses on adapting to these
changes,
while completely ignoring what we need to do to avoid allowing them to
escalate
into potentially devastating environmental transformation.

"In light of
the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of
Mexico, it is painfully clear that we need to exercise precaution
when it comes to exploiting the ocean's resources. Inexcusable gaps in
government oversight of the oil industry allowed drilling plans to evade

environmental review and set the course for what has become this
country's worst
environmental disaster. It's critical that the new national policy and
National
Ocean Council provide safeguards that protect marine ecosystems and
wildlife.

"The policy
announced today is a good and necessary step toward coordinated planning
and
conservation, but we have yet to see if it will translate into good
management.
We need continued public participation to secure better assurances that
decisions under this policy are based on sound science and
are made with
conservation and restoration as a primary goal and the precautionary
principle
in mind."

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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