President Barack Obama's Ocean Policy Task Force — comprised of 24 officials from the U.S. Department of Interior to the U.S. Navy — recommended creating a new National Ocean Council with power to coordinate and hold accountable myriad federal agencies in conservation and marine planning efforts.
"Right now (ocean policy) is done on a piecemeal basis, one agency regulating fisheries, one shipping, one water quality, another national security and there's no real mechanized thinking on how sectors interact with each other," said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a task force member.
"Today is a historic day. For the first time, we as a nation say loudly and clearly that healthy oceans matter," she said.
The president created the task force to coordinate federal response to pollution from industrial and commercial activities, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, among other problems.
(...) Beyond creating the new ocean council, the task force identified a number of priorities for improving the health of the seas and Great Lakes. Among them is to improve the ability of coastal communities and the Arctic to deal with the effects of climate change, especially rising sea levels and higher ocean acidification due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The council would help coastal communities — whether it be a struggling fishing industry in Northern California or a hurricane-damaged area on the Gulf Coast — through better coordination and strategic planning.
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