In April 2013, the National Ocean Council (NOC) published the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, describing specific actions that Federal agencies would take to address key ocean challenges; give states and communities greater input in Federal decisions related to the Nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; streamline Federal operations; save taxpayer dollars; and promote economic growth. The actions in the Implementation Plan were aligned under five major themes: Ocean Economy, Safety and Security, Coastal and Ocean Resilience, Local Choices, and Science and Information.
Much of the work under the original Implementation Plan is either done or well underway (read the latest progress report here), so while the Implementation Plan will continue to guide relevant Federal Agencies, new Annual Work Plans will further drive and focus Federal progress on pressing ocean issues.
The NOC released the first of these plans last month. The National Ocean Policy 2016 Annual Work Plan concentrates on four priority areas for 2016: Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud; Harmful Algal Blooms/Hypoxia; Regional Marine Plans; and Ocean Acidification. The 2016 Annual Work Plan also discusses continuing actions from the Implementation Plan, and highlights two “emerging areas”: tools to enhance coastal resilience and to better assess and respond to sea-level rise; and coastal mapping.
The NOC also released the Guidance on Marine Plans, aimed at assisting Regional Planning Bodies—established in accordance with Executive Order 13547, Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes—who are or will be developing their Regional Marine Plans (one of the four priority areas in the 2016 Annual Work Plan). The Guidance on Marine Plans builds on and complements the Marine Planning Handbook published in July 2013.
Beth Kerttula is Director of the National Ocean Council.