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Implementation of the National Ocean Policy

“We’ve made tremendous strides in undertaking our role as responsible stewards of this Nation’s great oceans.” – Beth Kerttula, Director of the National Ocean Council

The first Report on the Implementation of the National Ocean Policy (passed in 2010) is out.  Our regional planning ship is not only pointing down the channel in the right direction, but it is progressing past significant buoyed channel markers.  The Report is extensive.   Here is a selection of the National Ocean Policy’s achievements that are of most interest to the Ocean River Institute. Below are some excerpted sections of the report:

Report on the Implementation of the National Ocean Policy – March 2015

Regional Ocean Planning

The National Ocean Policy recognizes the challenge of balancing the needs of multiple communities as efforts are made to support and grow marine economies, protect and conserve the environment, and sustain unique social and cultural identities. Regional marine planning offers one approach for regions to identify these needs and to use science-based decision making to address overlaps and potential conflicts in a proactive manner. To accomplish this, the National Ocean Policy promotes the establishment of regional partnerships among the Federal government, States, and Tribes, with substantial public engagement. These Regional Planning Bodies can serve as venues for conflict resolution, data sharing, and proactive planning. To date, five Regional Planning Bodies have been established in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and West Coast. The Regions have committed to the development of Marine Plans in both the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic by 2016 in collaboration with the National Ocean Council. Through this shared process, Federal agencies are committed to better supporting regional priorities to enhance regional economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being.

Podcast: John Williamson, charter boat captain and former commercial fisherman with Rob about ocean policy planning, fisheries and seafood.

Ocean STEM Curriculum and the National Ocean Sciences Bowl

Pictured above, the Boise High School National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Team assist a lobsterman returning lobster traps in Casco Bay.  A diverse workforce with interdisciplinary skills and training is needed to maintain the Nation’s place as a world leader in ocean science and to ensure informed management and use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. Agencies are working toward the systematic inclusion of ocean concepts into mainstream K-12 learning, to provide America’s students with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and skills needed to ensure a high quality and ocean-conscious workforce of the future. One example is a partnership led by the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Carolina Biological Supply Company to develop the Ocean Sciences Curriculum for grades 3-5 and 6-8.  With funding and scientific guidance from NOAA, these in-depth, kit-based curriculum units deliver science content and opportunities for students to engage in investigations and make evidence-based explanations. In addition to extensive vetting by scientists, the curriculum sequences were designed in accordance with the latest research on learning and tested in classrooms across the United States.  To learn more about Sverdrups and sharks podcast recent high school graduate and National Ocean Science Bowl competitor Noa Randall.

Ocean Literacy

Increased public understanding of ocean and coastal science and the importance of the ocean in the functioning of our planet will empower people and communities to be better stewards of ocean resources and systems, and increase awareness of opportunities related to these resources. It will also provide avenues for the public to engage in the issues facing the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.  Agencies are developing social media platforms, mobile apps, and other interactive approaches to ensure that content that incorporates the latest ocean science reaches students, teachers, and the public.

For more information on Ocean Literacy, Rob talks with U.C. Berkeley’s Craig Strang (of the Lawrence Hall of Science, NMEA, COSEE and MARE fame) along with environmental troubadours extraordinaire, the Banana Slugs String Band. Doug “Dirt” Greenfield, “Airy” Larry Graff, “Marine” Mark Nolan, and “Solar” Steve Van Zandt of the Banana Slug String Band will give us the downstream low-down on watersheds and bays, salty and fresh. So get ready to get down!

Rapid Detection Techniques for Harmful Algal Blooms

Rapid, reliable screening methods are needed to protect human health and assure seafood safety in commerce and trade. Government agencies are supporting research to identify toxins, pathogens, and toxic chemicals that impact human and wildlife health, and based on that research, develop rapid assessment and detection methods and operational forecasting applications. For example, sensors and testing kits are being developed for a wide variety of algal toxins including paralytic shellfish toxins (Pacific Northwest, Gulf of Maine), neurotoxic shellfish toxins (Gulf of Mexico), and Ciguatera fish poisoning (Caribbean and Tropical Pacific). Other tools advancing ocean observing and forecasting allow harmful algal blooms, their toxins, and other parameters to be measured in the water in near real-time and the data transmitted to shore.

The Harmful Algal Bloom (hypoxia, ocean dead zone) Bill was signed into law last session.  Mike Dunmyer of Ocean Champions talks with Rob about that bill, along with legislation to reduce marine debris and the importance of catch-shares for fishermen from Alaska halibut to New England groundfish.

Shoreline Monitoring

As part of its Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, NOAA has published technical guidance and methods for monitoring marine debris on shorelines, surface waters, and the seafloor. Shoreline monitoring protocols are now being used by more than 40 Federal and non-Federal entities nationwide, primarily as part of citizen science, volunteer-led efforts. Shoreline monitoring data are submitted to NOAA and provided to other partners through an online database which currently houses data from more than 100 shoreline sites. Standardized and consistent monitoring and assessment of the abundance and types of marine debris present in the environment will guide efforts to address and mitigate the impacts of marine debris. Marine debris monitoring data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of existing marine debris prevention efforts, quantify the sources and impacts of debris, and help local communities identify targets for mitigation.  Podcast: Dr. Edie Widder talks with Rob about monitoring shoreline pollution with bioluminescence and an ocean monitoring probe named “Kilroy.”


Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Seafood Fraud Task Force

Global losses attributable to the black market of illegal fishing are estimated to be $10 to $23 billion annually. To address these issues, a Federal Task Force is providing recommendations for combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud. This Task Force submitted its final recommendations to the National Ocean Council in December 2014, and agencies are expected to announce implementing actions in early 2015. The Task Force developed 15 recommendations, divided into four categories: international action; strengthening enforcement; partnerships; and traceability. These recommendations are an important step in constructing a more systematic, coordinated program for tackling IUU and seafood fraud domestically, while also increasing our leadership role in this area internationally.

Rigs to Reefs

“Rigs to Reefs” is a Federal policy that provides States the greatest flexibility in their artificial reef planning, while balancing environmental and safety concerns with the various other uses for Outer Continental Shelf lands. The process has generated more than $100 million for States, which helps these local economies be more sustainable, while producing a variety of ancillary benefits, such as capital improvement projects.

Charlotte McDevitt, Executive Director of GreenVI.org, is protecting reefs from sedimentation while working towards a vision of a green, clean, healthy and prosperous British Virgin Islands.



Kerttula, Beth. Report on the Implementation of the National Ocean Policy. Rep. The White House, Mar. 2015. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

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