Full Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, at 9:30 a.m. in room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building. Members will hear testimony examining the final recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Senator McCain will preside. Following is a tentative witness list (not necessarily in order of appearance):
The Honorable Sam Farr
Chairman McCain, Senator Hollings, and members of the Committee, thank you for allowing me to testify this morning during opening remarks on the absolute importance of using the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s Final Report as a springboard for national action. I applaud your efforts to have a hearing on the Commission’s Final Report in such a timely manner. Additionally, I am told that you are holding a mark-up tomorrow that includes consideration of at least one oceans-related bill. As someone who cares deeply about the oceans and who does not want to see the U.S. Commission report go unnoticed, I sincerely appreciate the attention and effort you are putting towards oceans issues. I enjoy traveling over here to participate in the pro-active discussions on the oceans and to speak about the exciting efforts happening on the other side of the Capitol. Before I go any further in my testimony, I want to recognize the three other co-chairs of the bi-partisan House Oceans Caucus: Tom Allen of Maine, and Jim Greenwood and Curt Weldon, both of Pennsylvania. With over 50 Members in the House Oceans Caucus, the four of us represent diverse constituencies – from inland states like Missouri to island territories like American Samoa. This broad appeal demonstrates the recognition that every American has a stake in the state of our oceans, this Country’s largest public trust resource. I also want to recognize the many people who helped put the Final Report together – Admiral Watkins and all of the Commissioners and the Commission staff members and advisors. I would also like to thank the Governors, tribal representatives, non-governmental entities, and of course, members of the public, for providing comments on the Preliminary Report. Five months ago today, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released a Preliminary Report outlining the imperiled state of our oceans. Yesterday, the U.S. Commission moved our country one step closer to being better stewards of our oceans by submitting to the President and to Congress a Final Report on ‘everything oceans.’ This comprehensive document makes recommendations on a wide range of topics, from improving governance of ocean resources to promoting greater marine stewardship and education, from recognizing the need to manage the oceans on an ecosystem basis to suggesting greater exploration of unknown areas of the sea, from discussing reform of fisheries management to arguing for increases in our marine science research budget, and from speaking to the connections between coastal land uses and the oceans to implementing an integrated ocean observation system. Submission of the Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy is truly an historic event. It has been more than 30 years since we, as a nation, have evaluated our relationship with the sea. Unfortunately, the state of our oceans has significantly decreased since our last evaluation. So much so that today, our oceans are in a state of crisis – a crisis that affects each and every one of us. While we have many crises – at home and abroad – that require our immediate attention, we cannot overlook the fact that our oceans are in a state of crisis, too. It is my sincere hope that members of Congress as well as the Bush Administration will read the U.S. Commission’s Report and realize that our oceans need attention – now – and that the country is looking to us – their leaders – to act. I look forward to analyzing the President’s response to the Final Report, a response that, under law, must be submitted within 90 days of today. We all depend on our oceans and coasts, from the person who lives off the water to the person who visits once in a lifetime. The oceans provide food, jobs, vacation spots, scientific knowledge, and opportunities for reflection. Despite our inability to measure the many non-market values associated with our oceans and coasts, we are able to quantify some of the benefits they provide. For example, over a trillion dollars is added to our economy each year by ocean and coastal economies. I trust that we can all agree that this is a huge contribution; a contribution that must be protected so the returns keep coming. We can craft our uses of the ocean to ensure that they are conducted in a sustainable manner, such that the resources will be there for future generations. Protection of our oceans will require a change of course. Unfortunately, all too often we take our oceans for granted: we underestimate their value and we ignore the negative consequences human-related activities can have on them. Our oceans represent the largest public trust resource in the U.S. and cover an area nearly one and a half times the size of the continental United States. Americans expect the Government to safeguard this vast resource and I hope that the Final Report will be the impetus for us to actually begin to do so. Simply put, our current ocean and coastal management system, created over thirty years ago, is archaic and incompatible with new knowledge about how the oceans and coastal waters function as a whole. Our policies are fragmented, both institutionally and geographically. For example, today we find ourselves with over ten federal departments involved in the implementation of more than 130 ocean-related statutes. It is time to re-consider this incoherent and often times incompatible management situation and bring order to our ocean governance structure. The U.S. Commission’s Report offers some guidance on how to do just this. One of the biggest advances in our understanding of oceans to occur since our last national review of ocean policy is that the natural world functions as ecosystems, with each species intricately connected to the other parts that make up the whole. The U.S. Commission’s Final Report, as well as the independent Pew Oceans Commission Report released in June of 2003, clearly states that we must adopt a new policy framework that is based on the concept of “the whole,” an ecosystem-based approach rather than one based on political boundaries. This approach will not be as easy or straightforward as our previous approaches, but we must dedicate ourselves to making it a reality. Part of making it a reality is creating a strong regional governance structure. With a comprehensive national ocean policy explicitly written to maintain healthy ocean ecosystems, our oceans will be a bountiful resource in which we can all take pride. The Final Report released yesterday also stresses the importance of instilling a new ecosystem-based stewardship ethic. Involved in instilling this ethic is increasing ocean-related education for all Americans at all levels, from first-graders learning how to read to graduate students investigating intricate scientific processes. The U.S. Commission details suggestions on how we can instill a new stewardship ethic by emphasizing and investing in greater marine science education. I see this recommendation – that of committing ourselves to teaching people about all aspects of the oceans and how our activities can have negative consequences for ocean ecosystems – as being fundamental to ensuring a better future for our oceans. It is up to each of us to not let this unprecedented opportunity pass us by – we cannot wait any longer to clean up this mess we have created for our oceans. On this point both the Pew and U.S. Commission reports are adamant: we must rethink the way we look at the oceans. We are at a turning point in oceans management and we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take the momentum created by the two ocean reports and make long lasting changes to protect our seas. The House Oceans Caucus leadership (Jim Greenwood, Curt Weldon, Tom Allen, and myself) has introduced legislation – H.R. 4900 (informally referred to as OCEANS-21) – that sets our country on the right path, the path of protecting our oceans. OCEANS-21 answers the calls of the Pew and U.S. Commissions by establishing a clear national oceans policy to protect, maintain, and restore the health of marine ecosystems and by providing a framework for addressing the many problems outlined in the reports. As recognized in a press release sent out by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, “OCEANS 21 offers comprehensive legislation that would establish several governance elements of the national ocean policy framework proposed by the Commission. Addressing the limitations of the current governance regime will be critical to the successful implementation of a new national ocean policy for the 21st century.” In addition to the governance elements that include enabling legislation (an ‘Organic Act’) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a National Oceans Advisor, and a National Oceans Council, OCEANS-21 also includes sections on regional ecosystem planning, greater investments in and improved coordination of marine science research and education, and a dedicated trust fund to support state and federal efforts to implement regional ecosystem efforts. We introduced our bi-partisan legislation in late July and are still hopeful that the House leadership will allow it to be considered this year. In addition to my efforts on H.R. 4900, I am working closely with Mr. Rahall, Ranking Member of the House Resources Committee, on his efforts to implement those recommendations from the Pew and U.S. Commissions that address management of our nation’s fishery resources (H.R. 4706). The most significant elements of this bill include separating the biological science from the allocation decisions, implementing conflict of interest requirements for members of the fishery councils, and broadening representation on the councils. I am also the lead sponsor on H.R. 4100, a bill that addresses the problem of pollution from cruise ships, and am a cosponsor of both H.R. 4897, a bill to protect deep sea corals, and H.R. 5001, a bill to establish an ocean observation pilot project that will move us closer to having an integrated ocean observation system. I would also like to commend Senator Boxer for her diligence in working towards her soon-to-be released huge oceans bill. I am looking forward to seeing the final bill. With the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission Reports in the last year, the Bush Administration has a prime opportunity to take the steps necessary to instill a new ocean ethic in our government. Action by this Administration could very well save our largest public trust. The time for leadership is now. The Senate has continually shown its leadership on the oceans, from convening a hearing immediately following the release of the Preliminary Report of the U.S. Ocean Commission to holding this hearing today on the U.S. Commission’s Final Report. I am dedicated to providing leadership in the House, with the help of my fellow Oceans Caucus co-chairs and other members interested in oceans conservation. And, I hope that the President will provide leadership in the White House. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and Members of the Committee, I would like to close with a quote from the Final Report that encapsulates my thoughts on the need for action now: “The responsibility of our generation is to reclaim and renew the oceans for ourselves, for our children, and – if we do the job right – for those whose footprints will mark the sands of beaches from Maine to Hawaii long after ours have washed away.” Mr. Chairman, again, thank you for letting me testify in front of your committee today.
Witness Panel 1
Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.)Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and AtmosphereAdministrator, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration
Good morning Chairman McCain and members of the Committee. I am Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. It is a privilege to be testifying here today with the Commission’s Chairman, Admiral Watkins, and other esteemed colleagues and experts. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Committee, especially Chairman McCain and Senator Hollings, for their leadership on the Oceans Act, which made this all possible. On behalf of the Administration, I would like to thank Admiral Watkins, the other Commissioners, and their staff for their hard work and congratulate them on the completion of their final report. The Administration is committed to the sound management and effective conservation of our Nation’s ocean and coastal resources. The Commission’s mandate is very important and the Administration has supported its efforts throughout the process by appointing the Commissioners, providing witnesses who have testified over fifty times at public hearings, and we have provided information as requested. We are taking the Commission’s findings and recommendations very seriously. We have been assessing the Commission’s efforts throughout the process. The Administration’s response will provide a thoughtful, coherent, and ongoing response. We are pleased that much of the Commission’s report is in line with existing Administration priorities. Several issues highlighted by the Commission have already been identified by the Administration and in many cases actions are already underway within the existing infrastructure and with current resources. I will highlight several examples of these. Today I will describe the process for the Administration’s response to the Commission’s report and actions that the Administration has undertaken that are responsive to the Commission’s recommendations. I will also provide comment on actions the Administration is planning to take in the future. Although I will make every effort to respond to the Committee’s request to focus on the Commission’s final recommendations, at this time the Administration has not had time to fully review the final report. Therefore, I will focus more on the Administration’s ongoing efforts. THE ADMINISTRATION’S RESPONSE TO THE REPORT The Oceans Act of 2000 requires the President to submit to Congress a statement of proposals to implement or respond to the Commission’s recommendations within 90 days after receiving and considering the final report, which was released yesterday. As required and allowed for under the Act, the Administration has initiated a review of the final report and we will continue to consider the report’s recommendations as we develop our response. As mentioned earlier the Administration has supported the Commissioners’ efforts throughout the process. In anticipation of the Final Report, the President designated the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman, James Connaughton, as the lead for coordinating the Administration’s Commission-related efforts. In May, 2003, CEQ convened an Interagency Ocean Policy Group (IOPG) which consists of members from the following agencies: · Department of Agriculture · Department of Commerce · Department of Defense · Department of Education · Department of Energy · Environmental Protection Agency · Department of Homeland Security · Department of the Interior · Department of Justice · National Aeronautical and Space Administration · National Science Foundation · Department of State, and · Department of Transportation An Ocean Policy Task Force composed of agency representatives is providing staff assistance to the IOPG. A website—http://ocean.ceq.gov—has been developed to support this effort and to inform the public on the Administration’s ocean-related initiatives. ADMINISTRATION DELIVERABLES TO DATE In the last three years the Administration has launched and supported a number of innovative science, management and policy initiatives that have been endorsed by the Commission and/or are responsive to Commission recommendations. These include the following: The Commission’s preliminary report recommended that NOAA be provided organic authority by Congress. On June 10, during Capitol Hill Oceans Week, Secretary Evans announced the first Administration action responsive to the Commission’s report was the Administration’s transmission to Congress of a proposed NOAA organic act. That Administration bill has since been introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4607). That bill provides NOAA with unified authority to undertake all of its missions, which currently are found in close to 200 separate legislative authorities. The Administration believes that the timely passage of an organic act is an important step forward in enhancing NOAA’s ability to carry out its research and management objectives. NOAA is an integral part of the Department of Commerce, and the Administration appreciates the ongoing efforts of Members of Congress to provide organic authority for NOAA. The Administration has taken the lead on establishing a Global Earth Observing System of Systems with international partners, an effort endorsed by the Commission. On September 8, the Administration released a draft 10-year Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System. This supports the larger international effort we have been spearheading for a Global Earth Observing System of Systems. Eighteen federal agencies collaborated in developing the draft plan, which includes among its benefits efforts to protect and monitor the oceans. This plan includes the associated efforts to integrate data management and data archives, and provide broad access to the observations and analysis. The Integrated Ocean Observing System, which agencies are working closely to plan and develop, is a part of this effort. We have witnessed first hand the benefits that coastal observations can provide as emergency managers and many other federal, state, and local authorities have tapped existing coastal observing capabilities to help predict, mitigate the impact of, and track three major hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Of course, our demonstrated capability to better forecast El Nino is derived from an integrated and sustained ocean and atmosphere observing system in the equatorial Pacific. Data from this system has provided benefits to agriculture and has helped federal, state and local authorities mitigate the impacts of resulting weather patterns. Most recently NOAA used this system to determine, and subsequently announce on September 10, that El Niño is back but apparently in a weaker state than in past cycles. The Commission’s report noted that upland watersheds affect the nation’s ocean and coastal resources. In recognition of this connection, on July 19, the Environmental Protection Agency committed $15 million from the Targeted Watershed Grant Program for the protection and restoration of 14 watersheds. Special consideration was given to watersheds along the Mississippi River Basin, where market-based water quality trading pilot projects are being implemented to address excessive nutrient run-off along the River. This nutrient overload has been scientifically linked to the seasonal hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Effectively protecting and restoring local watersheds has a direct impact on the health of our oceans and coastal areas, as the Commission report highlights. On July 28, the U.S. Coast Guard announced the establishment of a mandatory ballast water management program. This program requires that vessels entering from outside the U.S. EEZ manage their ballast prior to discharging into U.S. waters. It also requires that all vessels with ballast tanks maintain a ballast water management plan specific for that vessel. The implementation of these regulations increases the Coast Guard’s ability to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous species via ballast water as required by the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act and the National Invasive Species Act. This action is a major step in protecting our environment, food supply, economy, health and overall biodiversity from the impacts of non-indigenous species and is directly responsive to a recommendation in the Commission’s preliminary report. The preliminary report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy points to the importance of research and exploration of the deep sea, and to the excitement emanating from such missions to the depths of the ocean. On August 6, the Administration announced that after 40 years of scientific research that led to the discovery of new life forms, helped confirm the theory of plate tectonics, and enthralled schoolchildren around the world about inner space, the human-occupied research submersible Alvin will be replaced by a new, deeper-diving vehicle that will reach 99% of the ocean. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will provide funding for the vehicle through a cooperative agreement with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). On August 26, the President issued an Executive Order outlining a broad policy of cooperative conservation that emphasizes the appropriate inclusion of State, local, tribal and other participants in Federal decision-making and conservation activities. In recognizing that national conservation objectives require more than Federal involvement, this Order is consistent with the emphasis the Commission has given to regional, State, and local authorities in implementing many of its policy recommendations. NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the pet industry and other partners are finalizing plans for a new public education and outreach effort to prevent the release of non-native plants and animals. This public-private initiative directly responds to a recommendation in the Ocean Commission’s preliminary report relating to aquatic nuisance species control. NOAA is working cooperatively with other agencies to provide support to CEQ throughout the review process. We are taking the USCOP Report into consideration in our planning and budgeting process. We have provided leadership in support of the earth observing initiative and continue to improve upon our observing and data management capabilities, including efforts to promote an integrated ocean observing system in cooperation with other Federal agencies and partners. We are committed to working closely with Congress, our Nation’s governors, and the private and non-profit sectors, to advance the next generation of ocean policy. NOAA will continue to provide support on the NOAA Organic Act and NOAA program specific legislation, such as efforts to reauthorize our fisheries, marine mammal, harmful algal bloom, and related authorities. We are also interested in pending legislation addressing marine debris, ocean exploration and research, and other areas. Other agencies will similarly work with Congress on legislation specific to their programs. CONCLUSION In summary, I would like to reiterate the importance of the Commission’s efforts and stress the Administration is strongly committed to the continued effective management and long-term improvement of our coastal and ocean resources. All of the relevant departments and agencies are poised to work cooperatively with this Committee and the rest of Congress on building strong ocean programs. Thank you again for your time. I will be happy to take any questions from the Committee.
Admiral James D. Watkins USN (Ret.)Co-ChairJoint Ocean Commission Initiative
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the final report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, “An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century.” Yesterday afternoon this report was formally presented to the President and Congressional leaders, as required by the Oceans Act of 2000. This begins the 90-day period during which the President is required to submit to Congress “a statement of proposals to implement or respond to the Commission’s recommendations for a coordinated, comprehensive, and long-range national policy for the responsible use and stewardship of ocean and coastal resources.” In keeping with the broad mandate given to us by Congress, the report I will be summarizing today covers a huge range of topics—from coastal watersheds out to the deepest ocean and from fundamental science to practical problems. It includes over 200 recommendations, primarily directed at the executive and legislative branches of government. Needless to say, my remarks can only scratch the surface of this in-depth review and I urge you all to delve more deeply into those sections of greatest interest to you. OUR PRICELESS OCEAN ASSETS America is a nation intrinsically connected to and immensely reliant on the ocean. All citizens—whether they reside in the country’s farmlands or mountains, in its cities or along the coast—affect and are affected by the sea. Our grocery stores and restaurants are stocked with seafood and our docks are bustling with seaborne cargo. Millions of visitors annually flock to the nation’s shores, creating jobs and contributing substantially to the U.S. economy through one of the country’s largest and most rapidly growing economic sectors: tourism and recreation. The offshore ocean area under U.S. jurisdiction is larger than its total land mass, providing a vast expanse for commerce, trade, energy and mineral resources, and a buffer for security. Born of the sea are clouds that bring life-sustaining water to our fields and aquifers, and drifting microscopic plants that generate much of the oxygen we breathe. Energy from beneath the seabed helps fuel our economy and sustain our high quality of life. The oceans host great biological diversity with vast medical potential and are a frontier for exciting exploration and effective education. The importance of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes cannot be overstated; they are critical to the very existence and well-being of the nation and its people. Yet, as the 21st century dawns, it is clear that these invaluable and life-sustaining assets are vulnerable to the activities of humans. Human ingenuity and ever-improving technologies have enabled us to exploit—and significantly alter—the ocean’s bounty to meet society’s escalating needs. Pollution runs off the land, degrading coastal waters and harming marine life. Many fish populations are declining and some of our ocean’s most majestic creatures have nearly disappeared. Along our coasts, habitats that are essential to fish and wildlife and provide valuable services to humanity continue to suffer significant losses. Non-native species are being introduced, both intentionally and accidentally, into distant areas, often resulting in significant economic costs, risks to human health, and ecological consequences that we are only beginning to comprehend. Yet all is not lost. This is a moment of unprecedented opportunity. Today, as never before, we recognize the links among the land, air, oceans, and human activities. We have access to advanced technology and timely information on a wide variety of scales. We recognize the detrimental impacts wrought by human influences. The time has come for us to alter our course and set sail for a new vision for America, one in which the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are healthy and productive, and our use of their resources is both profitable and sustainable. It has been thirty-five years since this nation’s management of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes was comprehensively reviewed. In that time, significant changes have occurred in how we use marine assets and in our understanding of the consequences of our actions. The final report from the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy provides a blueprint for change in the 21st century, with recommendations for creation of an effective national ocean policy that ensures sustainable use and protection of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes for today and far into the future. THE VALUE OF THE OCEANS AND COASTS America’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes provide tremendous value to our economy. Based on estimates in 2000, ocean-related activities directly contributed more than $117 billion to American prosperity and supported well over two million jobs. By including coastal activities, the numbers become even more impressive; more than $1 trillion, or one-tenth of the nation’s annual gross domestic product, is generated within the relatively narrow strip of land immediately adjacent to the coast that we call the nearshore zone (Figure 1). When the economies throughout coastal watershed counties are considered, the contribution swells to over $4.5 trillion, fully half of the nation’s gross domestic product, accounting for some 60 million jobs. The United States uses the sea as a highway for transporting goods and people and as a source of energy and potentially lifesaving drugs. Annually, the nation’s ports handle more than $700 billion in merchandise, while the cruise industry and its passengers account for another $12 billion in spending. More than thirteen million jobs are connected to maritime trade. With offshore oil and gas operations expanding into ever deeper waters, annual production is now valued at $25–$40 billion, and yearly bonus bid and royalty payments contribute approximately $5 billion to the U.S. Treasury. Ocean exploration has also led to a growing and potentially multi-billion dollar industry in marine-based bioproducts and pharmaceuticals. Fisheries are another important source of economic revenue and jobs and provide a critical supply of healthy protein. They also constitute an important cultural heritage for fishing communities. The commercial fishing industry’s total annual value exceeds $28 billion, with the recreational saltwater fishing industry valued at around $20 billion, and the annual U.S. retail trade in ornamental fish worth another $3 billion. Every year, hundreds of millions of people visit America’s coasts to enjoy the oceans, spending billions of dollars and directly supporting millions of jobs. Nationwide, retail expenditures on recreational boating alone exceeded $30 billion in 2002. In fact, tourism and recreation is one of the nation’s fastest-growing business sectors, enriching economies and supporting jobs in communities virtually everywhere along the shores of the United States and its territories. Over half of the U.S. population lives in coastal watersheds, and more than 37 million people and 19 million homes have been added to coastal areas during the last three decades, driving up real estate values and requiring ever greater support services. These concrete, quantifiable contributions are just one measure of the value of the nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. There are many even more important attributes that cannot be given a price tag, such as global climate control, life support, cultural heritage, and the aesthetic value of the ocean with its intrinsic power to relax, rejuvenate, and inspire. TROUBLE IN PARADISE Unfortunately, our use and enjoyment of the ocean and its resources have come with costs, and we are only now discovering the full extent of the consequences of our actions. In 2001, 23 percent of the nation’s estuarine areas were considered impaired for swimming, fishing, or supporting marine species. In 2003, there were more than 18,000 days of closings and advisories at ocean and Great Lakes beaches, most due to the presence of bacteria associated with fecal contamination. Across the globe, marine toxins afflict more than 90,000 people annually and are responsible for an estimated 62 percent of all seafood-related illnesses. Harmful algal blooms appear to be occurring more frequently in our coastal waters and non-native species are increasingly invading marine ecosystems. Experts estimate that 25 to 30 percent of the world’s major fish stocks are overexploited, and many U.S. fisheries are experiencing serious difficulties. Since the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock, over half of our fresh and saltwater wetlands—more than 110 million acres—have been lost. Coastal waters are one of the nation’s greatest assets, yet they are being bombarded with pollutants from a variety of sources. While progress has been made in reducing point sources of pollution, nonpoint source pollution has increased and is the primary cause of nutrient enrichment, hypoxia, harmful algal blooms, toxic contamination, and other problems that plague coastal waters. Nonpoint source pollution occurs when rainfall and snowmelt wash pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, viruses, pet waste, sediments, oil, chemicals, and litter into our rivers and coastal waters. Other pollutants, such as mercury and some organic chemicals, can be carried vast distances through the atmosphere before settling into ocean waters. Our failure to properly manage the human activities that affect the nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes is compromising their ecological integrity, diminishing our ability to fully realize their potential, costing us jobs and revenue, threatening human health, and putting our future at risk. THE WORK OF THE U.S. COMMISSION ON OCEAN POLICY Congress clearly recognized both the promise of the oceans and the threats to them when it passed the Oceans Act of 2000, calling for establishment of a Commission on Ocean Policy to establish findings and develop recommendations for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy. Pursuant to that Act, the President appointed sixteen Commission members drawn from diverse backgrounds, including individuals nominated by the leadership in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. I have had the honor of chairing this effort. Our Commission held sixteen public meetings around the country and conducted eighteen regional site visits, receiving testimony, both oral and written, from hundreds of people. Overall, we heard from some 447 witnesses, including over 275 invited presentations and an additional 172 comments from the public, resulting in nearly 1,900 pages of testimony. The message from both experts and the public alike was clear: our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are in trouble and major changes are urgently needed in the way we manage them. The Commission learned about new scientific findings that demonstrate the complexity and interconnectedness of natural systems. We also found that our management approaches have not been updated to reflect this complexity, with responsibilities remaining dispersed among a confusing array of agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Managers, decision makers, and the public cried out for improved and timely access to reliable data and solid scientific information that have been translated into useful results and products. Another steady theme heard around the country was the plea for additional federal support, citing decades of underinvestment in the study, exploration, protection, and management of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Finally, the point was made that we must enhance ocean-related education so that all citizens recognize the role of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes in their own lives and the impacts they themselves have on these environments. Following extensive consideration and deliberation of a broad array of potential solutions, the Commission presented its preliminary report in early 2004. Comments were solicited from state and territorial governors, tribal leaders, and the public; the response was overwhelming. Thoughtful, constructive feedback was received from thirty-seven governors (including 33 of the 34 coastal state governors), five tribal leaders, and a multitude of other organizations and individuals—over one thousand pages in all. Commenters were nearly unanimous in praising the report, agreeing that our oceans are in trouble, and supporting the call for action to rectify the situation. Where governors and others offered corrections or suggestions for improvement, the Commission paid close attention and made changes as needed. Further details are provided in the attached document, Summary of Changes to the Preliminary Report. This final report lays out the Commission’s conclusions and detailed recommendations for reform—reform that needs to start now, while it is still possible to reverse distressing declines, seize exciting opportunities, and sustain the oceans and their valuable assets for future generations. A VISION AND STRATEGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY AND BEYOND The Commission began by envisioning a desirable future. In this future, the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are clean, safe, prospering, and sustainably managed. They contribute significantly to the economy, supporting multiple, beneficial uses such as food production, development of energy and mineral resources, recreation and tourism, transportation of goods and people, and the discovery of novel medicines, while preserving a high level of biodiversity and a wide range of critical natural habitats. In this future, the coasts are attractive places to live, work, and play, with clean water and beaches, easy public access, sustainable and strong economies, safe bustling harbors and ports, adequate roads and services, and special protection for sensitive habitats and threatened species. Beach closings, toxic algal blooms, proliferation of invasive species, and vanishing native species are rare. Better land-use planning and improved predictions of severe weather and other natural hazards save lives and money. In this future, the management of our impacts on the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes has also changed. Management boundaries correspond with ecosystem regions, and policies consider interactions among all ecosystem components. In the face of scientific uncertainty, managers balance competing considerations and proceed with caution. Ocean governance is effective, participatory, and well coordinated among government agencies, the private sector, and the public. The Commission envisions a time when the importance of reliable data and sound science is widely recognized and strong support is provided for physical, biological, social, and economic research, as well as ocean exploration. The nation invests in the needed scientific tools and technologies, including ample, well-equipped surface and underwater research vessels, reliable, sustained satellites, state-of-the-art computing facilities, and innovative sensors that can withstand harsh ocean conditions. A widespread network of observing and monitoring stations provides a steady stream of data, and scientific findings are translated into practical information and products for decision makers, vessel operators, educators, and the public. In this hoped-for future, better education is a cornerstone of national ocean policy, with the United States once again joining the top ranks in math, science, and technology achievement. An audacious program to explore unknown reaches of the ocean inspires and engages people of all ages. An ample, diverse, well-trained, and motivated workforce is available to study the oceans, set wise policies, develop and apply technological advances, and engineer new solutions. An effective team of educators works closely with scientists to learn and teach about the oceans—its value, beauty, and critical role on the planet. And, as a result of lifelong education, all citizens are better stewards of the nation’s resources and marine environment. Finally, the Commission’s vision sees the United States as an exemplary leader and full partner globally, eagerly exchanging science, engineering, technology, and policy expertise with others, particularly those in developing countries, to facilitate the achievement of sustainable ocean management on an international level. GUIDING PRINCIPLES The Commission believes its vision for the future is both practical and attainable. To achieve it, however, an overarching set of principles should guide national ocean policy. · Sustainability: Ocean policy should be designed to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. · Stewardship: The principle of stewardship applies both to the government and to every citizen. The U.S. government holds ocean and coastal resources in the public trust—a special responsibility that necessitates balancing different uses of those resources for the continued benefit of all Americans. Just as important, every member of the public should recognize the value of the oceans and coasts, supporting appropriate policies and acting responsibly while minimizing negative environmental impacts. · Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Connections: Ocean policies should be based on the recognition that the oceans, land, and atmosphere are inextricably intertwined and that actions that affect one Earth system component are likely to affect another. · Ecosystem-based Management: U.S. ocean and coastal resources should be managed to reflect the relationships among all ecosystem components, including humans and nonhuman species and the environments in which they live. Applying this principle will require defining relevant geographic management areas based on ecosystem, rather than political, boundaries. · Multiple Use Management: The many potentially beneficial uses of ocean and coastal resources should be acknowledged and managed in a way that balances competing uses while preserving and protecting the overall integrity of the ocean and coastal environments. · Preservation of Marine Biodiversity: Downward trends in marine biodiversity should be reversed where they exist, with a desired end of maintaining or recovering natural levels of biological diversity and ecosystem services. · Best Available Science and Information: Ocean policy decisions should be based on the best available understanding of the natural, social, and economic processes that affect ocean and coastal environments. Decision makers should be able to obtain and understand quality science and information in a way that facilitates successful management of ocean and coastal resources. · Adaptive Management: Ocean management programs should be designed to meet clear goals and provide new information to continually improve the scientific basis for future management. Periodic reevaluation of the goals and effectiveness of management measures, and incorporation of new information in implementing future management, are essential. · Understandable Laws and Clear Decisions: Laws governing uses of ocean and coastal resources should be clear, coordinated, and accessible to the nation’s citizens to facilitate compliance. Policy decisions and the reasoning behind them should also be clear and available to all interested parties. · Participatory Governance: Governance of ocean uses should ensure widespread participation by all citizens on issues that affect them. · Timeliness: Ocean governance systems should operate with as much efficiency and predictability as possible. · Accountability: Decision makers and members of the public should be accountable for the actions they take that affect ocean and coastal resources. · International Responsibility: The United States should act cooperatively with other nations in developing and implementing international ocean policy, reflecting the deep connections between U.S. interests and the global ocean. While progress has been made in a number of areas, the nation’s existing system for managing our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes is simply unable to effectively implement the appropriate guiding principles and realize a positive long-term vision. The Commission recommends moving toward an ecosystem-based management approach by focusing on three cross-cutting themes: (1) a new, coordinated national ocean policy framework to improve decision making; (2) cutting edge ocean data and science translated into high-quality information for managers; and (3) lifelong ocean-related education to create well-informed citizens with a strong stewardship ethic. These themes are woven throughout the report, appearing again and again in chapters dealing with a wide variety of ocean challenges. A NEW NATIONAL OCEAN POLICY FRAMEWORK To improve decision making, promote effective coordination, and move toward an ecosystem-based management approach, a new National Ocean Policy Framework is needed. While this framework is intended to produce strong, national leadership, it is also designed to support and enhance the critical roles of state, territorial, tribal, and local decision makers. Improved National Coordination and Leadership At the federal level, eleven of fifteen cabinet-level departments and four independent agencies play important roles in the development of ocean and coastal policy. These agencies interact with one another and with state, territorial, tribal, and local authorities in sometimes haphazard ways. Improved communication and coordination would greatly enhance the effectiveness of the nation’s ocean policy. Within the Executive Office of the President, three entities have some responsibilities relevant to oceans: the Office of Science and Technology Policy addresses government-wide science and technology issues and includes an ocean subcommittee; the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) oversees broad federal environmental efforts and implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act; and the National Security Council’s Global Environment Policy Coordinating Committee includes a subcommittee to deal with international ocean issues. But there is no multi-issue, interagency mechanism to guide, oversee, and coordinate all aspects of ocean and coastal science and policy. As part of a new National Ocean Policy Framework, the Commission recommends that Congress establish a National Ocean Council (NOC) within the Executive Office of the President, chaired by an Assistant to the President and composed of cabinet secretaries of departments and administrators of the independent agencies with relevant ocean- and coastal-related responsibilities (Figure ES.2). The NOC should provide high-level attention to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes issues, develop and guide the implementation of appropriate national policies, and coordinate the many federal departments and agencies with ocean and coastal responsibilities. The Assistant to the President should also advise OMB and the agencies on appropriate funding levels for important ocean- and coastal-related activities, and prepare a biennial report as mandated by Section 5 of the Oceans Act of 2000. A Committee on Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and Operations and a Committee on Ocean Resource Management should be created under the NOC to support its coordination and planning functions. A President’s Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, consisting of representatives from state, territorial, tribal, and local governments and academic, public interest, and private sector organizations, should also be established to ensure a formal structure for nonfederal input to the NOC and the President on ocean and coastal policy matters. A small Office of Ocean Policy should provide staff support to all the bodies discussed above. Pending congressional action, the Commission recommends that the President put this structure in place through an executive order. An Enhanced Regional Approach Ensuring full state, territorial, tribal, and local participation in ocean policy development and implementation is a critical element of the new National Ocean Policy Framework. Many of the nation’s most pressing ocean and coastal issues are local or regional in nature and their resolution requires the active involvement of state and local policy makers, as well as a wide range of stakeholders. One of the priority tasks for the new National Ocean Council should be to develop and promote a flexible, voluntary process that groups of states could use to establish regional ocean councils. These regional ocean councils would then serve as focal points for discussion, cooperation, and coordination. They would improve the nation’s ability to respond to issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries and would help policy makers address the large-scale connections and conflicts among watershed, coastal, and offshore uses. To complement and support this effort, the President should direct all federal agencies with ocean-related functions to immediately improve their regional coordination, moving over time to adopt a common regional structure (Figure 3). One pervasive problem for state and local managers is lack of sufficient, reliable information on which to base decisions. The Commission recommends that governors within a region identify an appropriate organization to create a regional ocean information program. Such programs will identify user-driven regional priorities for research, data, and science-based information products and help meet those needs by enhancing existing resources and promoting education, training, and outreach in support of improved ocean and coastal management. Coordinated Governance of Offshore Waters The nation’s vast offshore ocean areas are becoming an increasingly appealing place to pursue economic activities (Figure 4). Well-established institutional frameworks exist for longstanding ocean uses, such as fishing and energy extraction; however, authorities governing new activities, such as the placement of wind farms or aquaculture facilities, need to be clarified. A comprehensive offshore management regime is needed that enables us to realize the ocean’s potential while safeguarding human and ecosystem health, minimizing conflicts among users, and fulfilling the government’s obligation to manage the sea in a way that maximizes long-term benefits for all the nation’s citizens. The National Ocean Council, supported by congressional action where necessary, should ensure that each current or foreseeable activity in federal waters is administered by a lead federal agency. Well-developed laws or authorities that cover existing programs would not be supplanted, but the lead agency would be expected to continue and enhance coordination among all other involved federal partners. For emerging ocean activities whose management is ill defined, dispersed, or essentially non-existent, the National Ocean Council and Congress, working with affected stakeholders, should ensure that the lead agency provides strong coordination, while working toward a more comprehensive governance structure. Based on an improved understanding of offshore areas and their resources, the federal government should work with appropriate state and local authorities to ensure that the many different activities within a given area are compatible, in keeping with an ecosystem-based management approach. As the pressure for offshore uses grows, and before serious conflicts arise, it is critical that the National Ocean Council review the complete array of single-purpose offshore programs with the goal of achieving coordination among them. Ultimately, a streamlined program for each activity should be combined with a comprehensive offshore management regime that considers all uses, addresses the cumulative impacts of multiple activities, and coordinates the many authorities with interests in offshore waters. The National Ocean Council, President’s Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, federal agencies, regional ocean councils, and states will all have roles to play in realizing more coordinated, participatory management of offshore ocean activities. In considering the coordination of ocean activities, marine protected areas provide one valuable tool for achieving more ecosystem-based management of both nearshore and offshore areas. Such areas can be created for many different reasons including: enhancement of living marine resources; protection of habitats, endangered species, and marine biological diversity; or preservation of historically or culturally important submerged archeological resources. Marine protected areas may also provide scientific, recreational, and educational benefits. The level of protection and types of activities allowed can vary greatly depending on the goals of the protected area. With its multiple use, ecosystem-based perspective, the National Ocean Council should oversee the development of a flexible process—one that is adaptive and based on the best available science—to design, implement, and assess marine protected areas. Regional ocean councils, or other appropriate entities, can provide a forum for engaging all stakeholders in this process. A Strengthened Federal Agency Structure Improved coordination through a National Ocean Council is necessary, but not sufficient to bring about the depth of change needed. Some restructuring of existing federal agencies will be needed to make government less redundant, more flexible, more responsive to the needs of states and stakeholders, and better suited to an ecosystem-based management approach. Because of the significant hurdles involved, a phased approach is suggested. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the nation’s primary ocean agency. Although it has made significant progress in many areas, there is widespread agreement that the agency could manage its activities more effectively. In addition, many of the recommendations in this report call for NOAA to handle additional responsibilities. A stronger, more effective, science-based and service-oriented ocean agency is needed—one that works with others to achieve better management of oceans and coasts through an ecosystem-based approach. As an initial step in a phased approach, Congress should pass an organic act that codifies the existence of NOAA. This will strengthen the agency and help ensure that its structure is consistent with three primary functions: assessment, prediction, and operations; management; and research and education. To support the move toward a more ecosystem-based management approach within and among federal agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should review NOAA’s budget within its natural resource programs directorate, rather than the general government programs directorate. This change would make it easier to reconcile NOAA’s budget with those of the other major resource-oriented departments and agencies, all of which are reviewed as natural resource programs at OMB. As a second step in the phased approach, all federal agencies with ocean-related responsibilities should be reviewed and strengthened and overlapping programs should be considered for consolidation. Programmatic overlaps can be positive, providing useful checks and balances as agencies bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. However, they can also diffuse responsibility, introduce unnecessary redundancy, raise administrative costs, and interfere with the development of a comprehensive management regime. The Commission recommends that program consolidation be pursued in areas such as area-based ocean and coastal resource management, invasive species, marine mammals, aquaculture, and satellite-based Earth observing. The Assistant to the President, with advice from the National Ocean Council and the President’s Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy, should review other federal ocean, coastal, and atmospheric programs, and recommend additional opportunities for consolidation. Ultimately, our growing understanding of ecosystems and the inextricable links among the sea, land, air, and all living things, points to the need for more fundamental reorganization of the federal government. Consolidation of all natural resource functions, including those involving oceans and coasts, would enable federal agencies to move toward true ecosystem-based management. SOUND SCIENCE AND INFORMATION FOR WISE DECISIONS An effective national ocean policy should be based on unbiased, credible, and up-to-date scientific information. Unfortunately, the oceans remain one of the least explored and most poorly understood environments on the planet, despite some tantalizing discoveries over the last century. Sustained investments will be required to: support research and exploration; provide an adequate infrastructure for data collection, science, and management; and translate new scientific findings into useful and timely information products for managers, educators, and the public. This is especially true as we move toward an ecosystem-based management approach that imposes new responsibilities on managers and requires improved understanding of physical, biological, social, and economic forces. Investing in Science and Exploration Over the past two decades, with our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes under siege, federal investment in ocean research has stagnated while other fields have grown. As a result, ocean science funding has fallen from 7 percent of the total federal research budget twenty-five years ago to just 3.5 percent today. This lagging support in the United States, combined with growing foreign capability, has lessened the nation’s pre-eminence in ocean research, exploration, and technology development. Chronic under-investment has also left much of our ocean-related infrastructure in woefully poor condition. The current annual federal investment in marine science is well below the level necessary to adequately meet the nation’s needs for coastal and ocean information. The Commission urges Congress to double the federal ocean and coastal research budget over the next five years, including a national program of social science and economic research to examine the human dimensions and economic value of the nation’s marine resources. In addition, a dedicated ocean exploration program should be launched to unlock the mysteries of the deep by discovering new ecosystems, natural resources, and archaeological treasures. A renewed U.S. commitment to ocean science and technology will require not only substantially increased funding, but also improved strategic planning, closer interagency coordination, robust technology and infrastructure, and 21st century data management systems. The Commission recommends: creation of a national strategy for ocean research that will guide individual agencies’ ten-year science plans; enhancement and maintenance of the nation’s ocean and coastal infrastructure; and development of new technologies, with more rapid transition of experimental technologies into operational applications. Launching a New Era of Data Collection The Integrated Ocean Observing System About 150 years ago, this nation set out to create a comprehensive weather forecasting and warning network. Today it is hard to imagine living without constantly updated and increasingly accurate weather reports. Now it is time to fully incorporate the oceans in this observational and forecasting capability. A sustained, national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) will provide invaluable economic, societal, and environmental benefits, including improved warnings of coastal and health hazards, more efficient use of living and nonliving resources, safer marine operations, and a better understanding of climate change. Our information needs are growing and the challenges we face along our coasts and in our oceans are escalating. The nation needs to substantially advance its ability to observe, monitor, and forecast ocean conditions, and contribute to global Earth observing capabilities (Figure 5). The Commission recommends that the Federal government, through the National Ocean Council, make the development and implementation of the IOOS a high priority, to be organized through a formalized Ocean.US office. The United States simply cannot achieve the levels of understanding and predictive capability needed, or generate the information required by a wide range of users, without the IOOS. While implementation of the IOOS will require significant, sustained funding, estimates suggest that an operational IOOS will save the United States billions of dollars annually through enhanced weather forecasts, improved resource management, and safer, more efficient marine operations. The IOOS must meet the needs of a broad suite of users, from scientists to the general public. To maximize its benefits, resource managers at federal, regional, state, and local levels will need to explain their information needs and provide guidance on the most useful outputs and products. The regional observing systems, overseen by Regional Associations, will provide a visible avenue for all users to provide input to the national IOOS. The National Monitoring Network Despite the growing threats to ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters, there is no national monitoring network in place to assess their status, track changes over time, help identify causes and impacts, or determine the success of management efforts. Increased monitoring is needed not only along the nation’s coasts, but also inland where pollutants often originate, traveling downstream and ultimately affecting coastal waters. A national monitoring network is essential to support the move toward an ecosystem-based management approach that considers the impacts of human activities within the context of the broader biological and physical environment. NOAA, EPA, and USGS should lead an effort to develop a national monitoring network that coordinates and expands existing efforts by federal, state, local, and private entities. Because of the inherent overlap between inland, coastal, and open-ocean waters, NOAA should ensure that the national monitoring network includes adequate coverage in both coastal areas and the upland reaches that affect them, and that it is closely linked with the IOOS. User communities should participate fully in developing the network and the data collected should be made available in useful formats to managers and stakeholders so they can make continual progress toward ecosystem-based management goals. The design and implementation of the national monitoring network will require not only federal coordination, but also significant input from states and regional entities. Turning Data into Useful Information The data generated from increased research, enhanced monitoring networks, and new observing systems will be essential in improving our management of ocean and coastal resources. However, two major challenges face today’s data managers: the sheer volume of incoming data, which strains storage and assimilation capabilities, and the demand for timely access to the data in a variety of formats by user communities. Meeting these challenges will require a concerted effort to modernize the current data management system and will require greatly improved interagency planning and coordination. The Commission recommends the creation of several new programs and partnerships to achieve these goals. First, Congress should amend the National Oceanographic Partnership Act to establish Ocean.IT, a new federal interagency mechanism to oversee ocean and coastal data management. This interagency group will enhance coordination, harmonize future software and hardware acquisitions and upgrades, and oversee strategic planning and funding. Building partnerships with the private sector and academia should also be a major goal of Ocean.IT. Second, NOAA and the U.S. Navy should establish an ocean and coastal information management and communications partnership to generate information products relevant to national, regional, state, and local operational needs. Building upon the Navy’s model for operational oceanography, this partnership would rapidly advance U.S. coastal and ocean analyses and forecasting capabilities by drawing on the distinct, yet complementary capabilities of each organization and using all available physical, biological, chemical, and socioeconomic data. The Commission recommends the creation of two additional programs that will aid in the creation and dissemination of information: multi-stakeholder regional ocean information programs to develop and disseminate useful information products on a regional basis; and accelerated coastal and ocean mapping and charting, coordinated through the Federal Geographic Data Committee. EDUCATION: A FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE Testing results suggest that, after getting off to a good start in elementary school, by the time U.S. students graduate from high school their achievement in math and science falls well below the international average (Figure 6). More specifically, a 1999 study revealed that just 32 percent of the nation’s adults grasp simple environmental concepts and even fewer understand more complex issues, such as ecosystem decline, loss of biodiversity, or watershed degradation. It is not widely understood that nonpoint source pollution threatens the health of coastal waters, or that mercury in fish comes from human activities via the atmosphere. From excess application of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on lawns, to the trash washed off city streets into rivers and coastal waters, ordinary activities contribute significantly to the degradation of the marine environment, but without an informed and educated citizenry, it will be difficult to achieve a collective commitment to stewardship, sustained investment, and more effective policies. A new national ocean policy should include a strong commitment to education to reverse scientific and environmental illiteracy, create a strong, diverse workforce, produce informed decision makers, and develop a national stewardship ethic for the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. The Commission recommends that all ocean-related agencies take responsibility for promoting education and outreach as an integral part of their missions. Ocean education at all levels, both formal and informal, should be enhanced with targeted projects and continual assessments and improvement. A national ocean education office, Ocean.ED, should be created under the National Ocean Council to promote nationwide improvements in ocean education. As an interagency office, Ocean.ED should develop a coordinated national strategy and work in partnership with state and local governments and with K-12, university level, and informal educators. The National Science Foundation Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence provide one outstanding model that should be expanded. Other recommendations include increased funding for training and fellowships, targeted efforts to increase participation by under-represented groups, and closer interaction between scientists and educators. All ocean-related agencies must explore innovative ways to engage people of all ages in learning and stewardship, using the excitement of ocean science and exploration as a catalyst. SPECIFIC MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES Building on the foundation of improved governance, new scientific information, and enhanced education, the Commission’s report covers the full breadth of topics included in its charge from Congress. As a result, it includes over 200 recommendations that span the gamut of ocean and coastal issues, ranging from upstream areas to the depths of the sea, from practical problem solving to broad guidance for ocean policy. Several important issues pose particular challenges and they are highlighted in my testimony below. Of course, the full report addresses these topics in much greater depth. Managing Coasts and their Watersheds While coastal watershed counties comprise less than 25 percent of the land area in the United States, they are home to more than 52 percent of the total U.S. population. On average, some 3,600 people a day are moving to coastal counties, suggesting that by 2015 coastal populations will reach a total of 165 million. With another 180 million people visiting the coast each year, the pressure on our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes will become ever more intense and the need for effective management greater (Figure 7). Population growth and tourism bring many benefits to coastal communities and the nation, including new jobs, businesses, and enhanced educational opportunities. The great popularity of these areas, however, also puts more people and property at risk from coastal hazards, reduces and fragments fish and wildlife habitat, alters sediment and water flows, and contributes to coastal water pollution. Fortunately, we are gaining a much-improved understanding of human influences on coastal ecosystems, whether they originate locally, regionally, or in watersheds hundreds of miles upstream. Without question, management of the nation’s coastal zone has made great strides, but further improvements are urgently needed, with an emphasis on ecosystem-based, watershed approaches that consider environmental, economic, and social concerns. The Commission recommends that federal area-based coastal programs be consolidated and federal laws be modified to improve coastal resource protection and sustainable use. Congress should reauthorize and boost support for the Coastal Zone Management Act, strengthening the management capabilities of coastal states and enabling them to incorporate a watershed focus. The Coastal Zone Management Act, Clean Water Act, and other federal laws should be amended to provide financial, technical, and institutional support for watershed initiatives. At the highest level, the National Ocean Council should develop national goals and direct changes to better link coastal and watershed management and minimize impacts associated with coastal population and housing growth. The President’s Council of Advisors on Ocean Policy can serve as a forum through which nonfederal entities have an opportunity to provide critically needed input to help guide this change. Regional ocean councils can also provide a mechanism for coordinating coastal and watershed management. Guarding People and Property against Natural Hazards Conservative estimates of damages from natural hazards, looking only at direct costs such as those for structural replacement and repair, put nationwide losses at more than $50 billion a year. Some experts believe this figure represents only half or less of the true costs. More accurate figures are unavailable because the United States does not consistently collect and compile such data, let alone focus specifically on losses in coastal areas or costs associated with damage to natural environments. Many federal agencies have explicit operational responsibilities related to hazards management, while others provide technical information or deliver disaster assistance. The nation’s lead agencies for natural hazards planning, response, recovery, and mitigation are the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). These agencies implement programs that specifically target the reduction and management of risks from natural hazards. Opportunities for improving Federal natural hazards management include: modifying federal infrastructure policies that encourage inappropriate development in hazard-prone areas; augmenting hazards information collection, analysis, and dissemination; refining the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); and undertaking effective and universal state and local hazards mitigation planning. Conserving and Restoring Coastal Habitat The diverse habitats that comprise the ocean and coastal environment provide tangible benefits such as filtering pollutants from runoff, buffering coastal communities against the effects of storms, and providing a basis for booming recreation and tourism industries. These habitats also supply spawning grounds, nurseries, shelter, and food for marine life, including a disproportionate number of endangered or commercially important species. As more people come to the coast to live, work, and visit, coastal habitats are increasingly stressed and damaged. Over the past several decades the nation has lost millions of acres of wetlands, seen the destruction of seagrass and kelp beds, and faced a loss of significant mangrove forests. Cost-effective conservation and restoration programs should be expanded according to a national strategy that sets goals and priorities, enhances the effectiveness and coordination of individual efforts, and periodically evaluates progress. Many habitat conservation and restoration projects have been successful, but continued progress will depend on sustained funding, improved government leadership and coordination, enhanced scientific research and monitoring, better education and outreach, and solid stakeholder support. Managing Sediment and Shorelines From a human perspective, sediment has a dual nature—desirable in some locations and unwanted in others—making its management particularly challenging. The natural flow of sediment over land and through waterways is important for sustaining coastal habitats and maintaining beaches. Too little sediment can lead to declining habitats, diminishing wetlands and eroding beaches. However, excess or contaminated sediment can block shipping channels, destroy habitats, poison the food chain, and endanger lives. Navigational dredging, infrastructure projects, farming, forestry, urban development, industrial operations, and many other necessary and beneficial human activities can interfere with natural sediment processes, adversely affecting the interests of other stakeholders and the environment. The nation must overcome several challenges to improve its management of sediment. The natural processes that create, move, and deposit sediment operate on regional scales, while today’s management regime generally addresses discrete locations—a single beach, wetland, or port—and rarely addresses broader upstream or coastal activities that affect sediment processes. To complicate matters further, the policies that control sediment dredging, transport, and quality fall under the jurisdiction of an assortment of programs within multiple agencies at all levels of government. Finally, our understanding of natural sediment processes, and how human activities affect sediment movement, is still limited. A national sediment management strategy is needed that balances ecological and economic needs according to an ecosystem-based management approach. Such a strategy should consider sediment on a multi-project, regional, watershed basis, and should involve all relevant parties. Participation in watershed management efforts by federal, state, and local entities, along with key stakeholders such as coastal planners and port managers, is an important step in diminishing upland sources of excess or contaminated sediment. Scientifically sound methods for characterizing contaminated sediment, combined with innovative technologies for dredging, treatment, and disposal of this material, will also be critical. Supporting Marine Commerce and Transportation Global trade is an essential and growing component of the nation’s economy, accounting for nearly 7 percent of the gross domestic product. The vast majority of our import-export goods pass through the nation’s extensive marine transportation system (Figure 8). To meet current demands and prepare for expected growth in the future, this system will require maintenance, improvement, and significant expansion. A first step in the process will be better coordination, planning, and allocation of resources at the federal level. As part of a national move toward an ecosystem-based management approach, the efficient, safe, and secure movement of cargo and passengers should be well coordinated with other ocean and coastal uses and activities, and with efforts to protect the marine environment. Specific recommendations include giving the Department of Transportation (DOT) lead responsibility within the federal government for oversight of the marine transportation system, including regular assessments of its status and future needs. DOT should develop an integrated national freight transportation strategy that strengthens the links between ports and other modes of transportation to support continued growth of international and domestic trade. In developing a national freight transportation strategy, DOT should work closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to incorporate port security and other emergency preparedness requirements. To ensure good coordination, the Interagency Committee for the Marine Transportation System should be strengthened, codified, and placed under the oversight of the National Ocean Council. Because marine transportation is primarily a nonfederal activity, the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council should also be maintained to provide a venue for outside input to the federal government on relevant issues. Addressing Coastal Water Pollution Coastal and ocean water quality is threatened by multiple sources of pollution, including point, nonpoint, and atmospheric, and from vessels, invasive species, and trash being washed onto beaches and into the ocean. Addressing these many sources requires development of an ecosystem-based and watershed management approach that draws on a variety of management tools. Because water contamination problems are complex and pervasive, their solution will require substantial investments of federal resources and greatly enhanced coordination both among federal agencies (primarily EPA, NOAA, USDA, and USACE) and between the federal government and managers at state, territorial, tribal, and local levels, in addition to watershed groups, nongovernmental organizations, private stakeholders, and the academic and research communities. Over the last few decades, great strides have been made in reducing water pollution from point sources, although further improvements can be realized through increased funding, strengthened enforcement, and promotion of innovative approaches, such as market-based incentives. Persistently troublesome point sources of pollution, including wastewater treatment plants, sewer system overflows, septic systems, industrial facilities, and animal feeding operations, must continue to be addressed. But the widespread and growing problem of nonpoint source pollution has not seen similar success (Figure 9). Significant reduction of such pollution in all impaired coastal watersheds should be established as a national goal with measurable objectives set to meet water quality standards. Federal nonpoint source pollution programs should be better coordinated so they are mutually supportive. Because agricultural runoff contributes substantially to such pollution, USDA should align its conservation programs, technical assistance, and funding with EPA and NOAA programs for reducing nonpoint source pollution. State and local governments can also play central roles through better land-use planning and stormwater management. Pollution reduction efforts should include the aggressive use of state revolving loan funds, implementation of incentives to reward good practices, and improved monitoring to assess compliance and overall progress. Congress should also amend the Clean Water Act to authorize federal financial disincentives to discourage activities that degrade water quality and to provide federal authority to act if a state chronically fails to make progress in controlling nonpoint sources. Given the natural functioning of hydrologic systems, watersheds are often the appropriate geographic unit within which to address water-related problems. Collaborative watershed groups have had particular success in addressing nonpoint source pollution. The federal government should strengthen collaborative watershed groups by providing them with adequate technical, institutional, and financial support. Because contaminants can travel long distances through the atmosphere and be deposited far from their origin, EPA and states should also develop and implement regional and national strategies for controlling this source of water pollution, building upon efforts such as the EPA Air-Water Interface Work Plan. In addition, the United States should participate in a vigorous international research program on the sources and impacts of atmospheric deposition and play a leadership role in negotiating international solutions. Limiting Vessel Pollution and Improving Vessel Safety Ships carry more than 95 percent of the nation’s overseas cargo, but their operations also present safety, security, and environmental risks. To minimize these risks, the Commission recommends that the U.S. Coast Guard work with industry partners and enhance incentive programs to encourage voluntary commitments from vessel owners and operators to build a workplace ethic that values safety, security, and environmental protection as central components of everyday vessel operations. These voluntary measures should be complemented by effective oversight and monitoring, whether conducted by the Coast Guard or third-party audit firms, and backed up by consistent enforcement efforts, including performance-based vessel inspections. The United States should also work with other nations, through the International Maritime Organization, to enhance flag state oversight and enforcement. Initiatives should include expeditious promulgation of a code outlining flag state responsibilities and development of a mandatory external audit regime to evaluate flag state performance and identify areas where additional technical assistance is needed. Control over vessels entering U.S. ports should be improved by ensuring that the Coast Guard has sufficient resources to sustain and strengthen its performance-based inspection program for marine safety and environmental protection, while also meeting its enhanced security responsibilities. In addition, the Coast Guard should work at the regional and international levels to increase effective coordination and vessel information sharing among concerned port states. A number of other important vessel-related priorities are discussed in the report, including the need for a uniform national regime to deal with cruise ship waste streams and reduction of recreational vessel pollution. Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species The introduction of non-native organisms into ports, coastal areas, and watersheds is causing harm to marine ecosystems around the world and incurring millions of dollars in costs for monitoring, control, and remediation. The most effective weapon against invasive species is prevention. To control the introduction of invasive species through ships’ ballast water, a major pathway, the U.S. Coast Guard’s national ballast water management program should: incorporate sound science in the development of biologically meaningful, mandatory, and enforceable ballast water treatment standards; develop new treatment technologies, revising the standards as needed to incorporate these technologies; and allow for full consultation with EPA. To address introduction pathways other than ballast water, such as ships’ hulls, anchors, navigational buoys, drilling platforms, fishing activities, the aquarium trade, aquaculture, and floating marine debris, the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, the Interior, and Homeland Security should more actively monitor and prevent the importation of potentially invasive aquatic species. Because prevention will never be entirely effective, the Commission also recommends the development of a national plan for early detection of invasive species and a system for prompt notification and rapid response. The National Ocean Council, working with the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force and the National Invasive Species Council, should review and streamline the current proliferation of federal and state programs for managing invasive species and should coordinate education and outreach efforts to increase public awareness about the importance of prevention. In the long run, a rigorous program of research, technology development, and monitoring will be needed to understand and effectively prevent aquatic species invasions. Reducing Marine Debris Marine debris refers to the enormous amount of trash, abandoned fishing gear, and other waste that can be found drifting around the global ocean and washing up along its coastlines, posing serious threats to wildlife, habitats, and human health and safety. Approximately 80 percent of this debris originates on land, either washed along in runoff, blown by winds, or intentionally dumped from shore, while 20 percent comes from offshore platforms and vessels, including fishing boats. The Commission recommends that NOAA, as the nation’s primary ocean and coastal management agency, reestablish its defunct marine debris program to build on and complement EPA’s modest program. NOAA and EPA should expand their marine debris efforts, taking advantage of each agency’s strengths by pursuing: public outreach and education; partnerships with local governments, community groups, and industry; and strengthened research and monitoring efforts. An interagency committee under the National Ocean Council should coordinate federal marine debris programs and take maximum advantage of the significant efforts conducted by private citizens, state and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. The United States should also remain active on the international level. An immediate priority is the development of an international plan of action to address derelict fishing gear on the high seas. Achieving Sustainable Fisheries Over the last thirty years, the fishing industry has evolved from being largely unmanaged, with seemingly boundless opportunities, to one that is highly regulated and struggling to remain viable in some places. While the current regime has many positive features, such as an emphasis on local participation, the pairing of science and management, and regional flexibility, it has also allowed overexploitation of many fish stocks, degradation of habitats, and negative impacts on many ecosystems and fishing communities. The Commission’s recommendations to improve fishery management can be grouped into six areas: re-emphasizing the role of science in the management process; strengthening the Regional Fishery Management Council (RFMC) system and clarifying jurisdictions; expanding the use of dedicated access privileges; improving enforcement; adopting an ecosystem-based management approach; and strengthening international management. To strengthen the link between strong science and sustainable fishery management, RFMCs should be required to rely on the peer-reviewed advice of their Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs), particularly in setting harvest levels. In particular, an RFMC should not be allowed to approve any measure that exceeds the allowable biological catch recommended by its SSC. Because of their importance in the process, SSC members should be no
The Honorable Frank H. Murkowski
Chairman McCain and Senator Hollings, on behalf of the states, thank you for this opportunity to testify on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s final report supporting development of a national ocean policy. My name is Frank Murkowski, and I am the Governor of Alaska. This year, I also serve as Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources of the National Governors Association, where I have made ocean policy and responding to the Commission’s report a priority for my tenure. I will be presenting my testimony today in these two capacities. With more than half of the nation’s offshore waters and two-thirds of its coastline, Alaska is keenly interested in national ocean policy. Alaska’s oceans are virtually pollution free, productive and sustainably managed. We share the vision of the Commission for a nationwide ocean policy framework that will produce the environmental results that Alaska already enjoys and strives to maintain. I commend the commission for its hard-work over the past few years in developing this comprehensive report. The members were faced with a daunting task and the final product is impressive. The central theme that you will hear throughout my testimony is the need for a strong state role and participation in all aspects of a national ocean policy. A strong partnership between federal, state and local governments is absolutely essential in managing and protecting our ocean and coastal resources. I would like to begin my testimony by addressing you in my capacity as Chair of NGA’s Natural Resources Committee. The nation’s Governors feel that there are a few key principles that should be integrated into any future national ocean policy crafted in response to the report. These are: no federal preemption of state laws, recognition of state primacy, and better coordination of existing laws and government programs with no new unfunded mandates. The Commission Report provides strong recommendations for national structures to advance ocean policy, while indicating the important role states play in ocean and coastal management. While we understand the need for national coordination, state sovereignty over coastal waters and uplands must be maintained to implement strategies that achieve national standards but are tailored to unique regional and state conditions. It would be unacceptable for any council or board to reduce states’ authority for management of our jurisdictional waters or lands. For example, in Alaska, we employ the principles of ecosystem-based management, as recommended in the report, in managing our world-class ocean resources and we support further progress as long as such measures can be implemented in ways that do not erode local and state authorities, are flexible to address local conditions, and are adequately funded. As the President and Congress move forward in crafting and implementing a national ocean policy we feel that the states’ jurisdictional authorities and roles must be at the fore. The states and territories have been managing their ocean and coastal resources for decades. As laws are enacted and priorities and standards are set, states must be able to enforce their respective statutes and have the ability to set higher priorities and stricter standards than federal standards should they deem that appropriate. Funding In addition to not preempting state laws and regulations, the President and Congress must also refrain from creating any unfunded mandates. Many of the recommendations in the report call for the creation of new programs or call on the states to take on additional responsibilities. While the Governors strongly feel that the management and protection of our ocean and coastal resources must be undertaken through a strong partnership with the federal government, states and communities should not be forced to shoulder the costs of federal requirements without corresponding federal funding. Adequate new funding for implementation of any new programs is requisite, as is funding for existing programs. This position is supported by the Commission’s statement that the partnership needed to adequately manage our ocean and coastal resources “should include a recognition that much of the responsibility for the management of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources rests with coastal and local governments.” Our resource management success in Alaska has been largely achieved through the use of traditional state and federal regulatory programs. We are often disappointed that federal funding for these programs is reduced in favor of new initiatives, which are not coordinated with existing programs. I would now like to take the time to address some more specific management issues raised in the report: the need for strong, sound science, successful implementation of the Clean Water Act, reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, and the need to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species. While my testimony only touches upon a limited number of the Commission’s recommendations, it must be noted that a strong state role and state flexibility should be inherent in any and all aspects of a national oceans and coastal policy. Ocean Science The Commission report places a lot of emphasis on the need for strong and sound science and research in a national ocean policy. We agree with the Commission that ocean managers and policy makers, on all levels, need comprehensive scientific information about the ocean and its environments to make informed decisions. This science-based effort can be achieved through strong support for various federal programs, like the National Estuarine Research Reserves and the National Sea Grant Program, that help support state and local efforts to understand and manage coastal resources. Strong, sound science is also a critical factor in fisheries management, where special attention needs to be paid to the fact that new fishing regulations can have severe repercussions for fishing communities. States, the federal government, and academia should coordinate and form partnerships to further research efforts that create synergies amongst projects and ensure that the results are applicable to resource management needs. Data collection, management, and analysis, as well as additional research, are needed to complete stock assessments, define life cycles of species, and establish the extent and function of essential fish habitat, much of which exists within states’ jurisdictions. Comprehensive cooperative data collection programs should be developed to fill information gaps that currently exist in fisheries management. Clean Water Water resources are central to the health of the citizens of our nation and are essential to our economic and environmental well-being. Under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and other statutes, the primary responsibility for managing the nation's vital water resources is properly vested with the states. Governors believe that states must be afforded significant flexibility in the management of our water resources. We subscribe to the Commission’s goal of significantly reduced nonpoint source pollution, not only in impaired coastal watersheds, but in all watersheds. To that end, states are developing programs to bring impaired waters into compliance with water quality standards. Our partners in this effort are the federal government, local municipalities and public and private stakeholders. The role of the federal government should be to support states' efforts. With your support we can achieve our water quality goals through coordinated federal programs, providing technical and financial assistance, supporting research and development, and through appropriate oversight of state programs. We believe in positive reinforcement and economic incentives to encourage meaningful progress in meeting water quality standards. In the words of our Enlibra policy, a concept promoted nationally by EPA Administrator, Mike Leavitt, reliance on the threat of enforcement action to force compliance is often not nearly as efficient and cost-effective as market-based approaches and economic incentives. Such approaches reward environmental performance, promote economic health, encourage innovation, and increase trust. We hope that any legislation to implement the recommendations of the Oceans Commission will not replicate the mistakes of the past and will seek a new approach to the environmental challenges of ocean and coastal pollution, preferably by incorporating the principles of Enlibra. Lastly, we urge Congress to provide adequate funding to carry out the provisions in the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). In the long run, full implementation of these laws will protect our coastal areas as well as state waters that ultimately flow into the oceans. Specifically, the Governors agree with Commission’s recommendation that Congress should authorize and appropriate funds at the level necessary for states to accomplish the tasks associated with watershed management and water program financing, while allowing them increased flexibility in the use of water program money. Congress should also appropriate funds, as well as provide sufficient capitalization grants and resources for the administration of the State Revolving Loan Funds. Reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act The reauthorization and strengthening of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972 is addressed in numerous recommendations made by the Commission. The CZMA established a unique partnership among federal, state and local governments to ensure balanced consideration amongst competing coastal resources. The Governors agree with the Commission that Congress should reauthorize the CZMA, and we believe it should continue to provide support to states. Support includes increased financial and technical assistance to states to work with coastal communities to manage growth and conserve resources while improving management of regional and ocean resources. While the Commission did not recommend changes to the federal consistency provisions of CZMA, I would like to affirm the Governors opposition to any changes in these provisions. The federal consistency provisions are central to the federal-state partnership created under the CZMA. We urge Congress and the Administration to retain all provisions of the act that ensure that all federal activities affecting the coastal zone are subject to the consistency review process. The Commission also focuses on the coastal nonpoint pollution control programs under Section 6217 of CZMA and Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. In its final report, the Commission recommends that the National Ocean Council review the programs and make recommendations to Congress on enhancing nonpoint source pollution control efforts. The Governors look forward to taking part in these efforts to improve the operation and effectiveness of these programs, and would support changes that would provide state more flexibility in implementing and meeting the requirements of Section 6217. Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act The Commission offers a variety of recommendations to ensure the long-term sustainability of our fisheries, while maximizing social and economic benefits. The states have great interest in how the federal government carries out its fisheries conservation and management responsibilities. Ultimately federal regulations affect the economies, communities, and citizens of the states. With that in mind, the Governors believe that achieving sustainable fisheries and the protection of fish habitat can best be accomplished through a strong state-federal partnership that provides additional opportunities for states to lead in the development and execution of marine policies and programs. In regards to specific fishery management recommendations, the Governors also believe that fishery managers should be afforded a variety of management tools when regulating fisheries, including Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) (The Commission on Ocean Policy refers to programs like ITQs as “Dedicated Access Privileges”). Regional councils should be able to use ITQs where appropriate, and any decision to use ITQs must come from within the affected region. If Congress or the federal government seeks to establish national guidelines for ITQs, a “one-size-fits-all” approach should be avoided, and any ITQ program must respect the unique local biological and social conditions. Aquatic Invasive Species The Commission devotes a chapter of its report to the prevention of the spread of invasive species. The adverse impacts of invasive species is a national and international problem, and government at all levels need to work together to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species. Since the problems associated with aquatic invasive species can be felt nationwide, the Governors believe that a consistent nationwide prevention strategy is more effective than individual state-by-state strategies. However, in developing legislation and regulations to achieve a nationwide strategy, Congress and the Administration should work with states to ensure that strategies are collaborative and do not impose unfunded mandates or detract from the abilities of states to manage species within its borders. Alaska and Oceans Management Having talked as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee of NGA, I would like to spend a few moments conveying my views as the Governor of Alaska. For the convenience of the Committee, I have attached to this testimony my previous letter to the Ocean Commission, along with an executive summary of Alaska’s recommendations. Accordingly, I will mention only a few salient points in my testimony today. The State of Alaska has a long history of working successfully in collaboration with federal and local jurisdictions on ocean issues. From joint state and federal oil and gas lease sales in the Beaufort Sea, to the continuing work of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, Alaska has experienced significant benefits from intergovernmental coordination for managing ocean and watershed resources. Alaska is indeed unique amongst the 50 states in that our constitution mandates sustainable management and use of our renewable natural resources. One notable example of a mutually beneficial state and federal partnership is the successful record of fisheries management by the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which has been widely noted. This formula for collaborative sustainable fisheries management has produced sound science and research programs, effective reporting and inseason management programs, limitations on fishing capacity, precautionary and conservative catch limits, habitat protection measures, incorporation of ecosystem considerations, comprehensive observer coverage, strict limits on bycatch and discards, and open public processes that involve stakeholders at all levels. The current system for managing our nation’s fisheries, as envisioned by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, can and is working effectively. As demonstrated by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the Council process can provide for responsible stewardship and management of our nation’s marine resources. Alaska’s experience with the use of risk-based management leads me to recommend its application in national ocean policy. Risk-based management provides the flexibility to achieve national standards with state implementation strategies built upon site-specific data and information. The State of Alaska’s environmental quality standards, environmental monitoring and research priorities, compliance inspection and enforcement priorities, and resource allocation policies are all driven by very conservative environmental protection and sustained yield assumptions that can be adjusted with relevant site-specific data and monitoring information. Site-specific data collection and monitoring are essential components of risk-based management. Absent site-specific information a “one-size-fits-all” management approach is used to achieve national standards. State implementation strategies that apply the best available site-specific information with on-going monitoring are a preferred alternative to a national one-size-fits-all management approach. The organizational proposals in the Report are complex and contemplate new offices, new staff, and new reporting relationships. As Governor of Alaska, it is my belief that existing state programs can implement strategies to achieve national standards, and consequently a new federal implementation bureaucracy is not needed. Alaska’s experience does not convince us that new government structures for centralized federal management produce better environmental or management results than proper utilization and funding of existing programs and agencies. Instead, I ask that efforts to create a new federal governance structure be focused on streamlining and coordinating existing programs. Thus, new ocean planning and coordination must not occur at the expense of the workhorse regulatory programs required by the Clean Water Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Oil Pollution Act, and other federal legislation. A renewed federal commitment is needed to fund, strengthen, and improve the coordination of the country’s existing pollution control programs that relate to ocean management. In conclusion, the governors look forward to playing a lead role in developing and implementing programs that will carry out the improvements for ocean management outlined in the report. I thank you again for the opportunity to testify before the Committee and would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Witness Panel 2
Mr. Daniel S. Schwartz
Mr. Chairman, distinguished Senators, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the opportunity to address this Committee. My name is Daniel Schwartz and I serve as the Manager of Marine Operations for the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography. I appear before you today as the Vice-President for Technical Affairs of the Marine Technology Society. The Marine Technology Society (or MTS) is an international, non-profit professional organization within which marine researchers and educators; ocean engineers and technology-developers; and ocean policy makers meet and exchange knowledge, facilitate collaboration, and disseminate technical ocean information. Our membership is as diverse as the numerous sub-disciplines of ocean science, technology and industry. I have appended, at the end of the written testimony, a list of the multiple areas of expertise represented by the various technical committees under the aegis of our organization. Dr. Andrew Clark, our immediate past president, in his testimony to the Oceans Commission noted that the 8 tenets stated as the purpose of the Oceans Act of 2000 very nearly mirror the MTS Articles of Incorporation’s stated purpose for creating the Society. Our 2550 members are from this nation's major oceanographic research institutions and university programs including CORE and UNOLS; government agencies including NOAA, the US Navy, and the US Coast Guard and all facets of the offshore and ocean industry including many small businesses that comprise an important part of the ocean community. It is the charter and mission of MTS to bring together all these ocean stakeholders. We accomplish this in many ways, including providing a peerreviewed quarterly Journal, international conferences, and technology-specific workshops. 2 The Marine Technology Society joins other ocean affairs constituencies and organizations in urging that we increase the investment that supports the national endeavor for ocean and coastal management, science and observations, public education and outreach: Over fifty percent of our nation’s economy is sited within or otherwise tied to coastal communities and counties. During this last month, we have witnessed three destructive hurricanes make landfall on our coastline. Even as home and commercial owners sort through the billions of dollars of damage received by their property and businesses, oceanographers are analyzing long term ocean data to attempt to “tease out” subtle signals in climate and ocean conditions so that we can improve future storm track forecasting. As we meet here today, Military Sealift Command cargo ships, in ports overseas, are discharging essential supplies for our forces fighting the war on terrorism. Rapidly deployable sensor systems and autonomous undersea vehicles offer promise in securing these vessels, and the ports upon which they depend, from enemy divers, mines, and explosives-laden small-craft. Fisheries managers are exploring new vehicle, robotics and acoustic technologies for characterizing and preserving essential habitat and monitoring the health of over-exploited fish populations. Virtually all of the major advances and breakthroughs in enabling technologies for the examples above are produced by an ocean industry that relies upon access to the byproducts of R&D investments made by an enduring partnership of our government, a robust academic research and educational establishment, and industry members. Yet this investment has historically seen cyclical swings, with R&D funding one of the first line items to be cut during periods of fiscal austerity. The Marine Technology Society strongly supports the Commission’s call for enhanced ocean infrastructure and technology development: Oceanographic vessels, operated by the Navy, NOAA and the UNOLS academic institutions, have been the traditional multi-use facilities required to expand human knowledge of the ocean environment. These ships working from the ocean’s surface complemented by human-occupied, robotic and – more recently -- autonomous undersea vehicles and sensors, along with aircraft and satellites, continue to provide vital tools in our understanding of the role of the oceans in determining our climate and in studying and accessing the living and non-living 3 resources of the world’s seas and sea-beds. However, tracing the subtle environmental signals that will allow us to understand and model global climate change over decades or centuries requires consideration of the fourth dimension, time. The Marine Technology Society strongly supports the Commission in setting a national goal of achieving a sustained, integrated ocean observing system: Long duration, unmanned systems, including cabled observatories on the ocean floor and moored high bandwidth telemetry buoys (for continuous retrieval of real time data), linked to arrays of sea floor sensors, are on the horizon. An academic/industry collaboration to support these systems must evolve, with the Federal ocean agencies playing a major facilitating role. Such government/industry/academia partnerships, through the existing National Ocean Partnership Program have assisted in the development of some of the enabling technologies required for Ocean Observing Systems. Additionally, NOPP provides an organizational and governance structure that will provide effective coordination of the efforts of multiple participating agencies. Much work remains in order to integrate existing and conceptual systems and technologies for the purpose of sustained, long-term ocean observation. As happened with space exploration, such a commitment in turn can spawn new industries and commercial applications, and as yet unimagined technologies. A sustained government investment will foster the continuing advancements in the state of the art as we proceed with the implementation of an Integrated Ocean Observing System. The Marine Technology Society shares a core mission dedicated to the Commission’s call for promotion of lifelong ocean education: Proper stewardship over ocean resources and their wise use, and decision making for future ocean and coastal related issues are inconceivable without an interested and engaged citizenry. In addition to technology, our national ocean endeavor requires technical support in the form of expert human resources, with sound science, mathematics and technical education: a critical mass of individuals who will collect and analyze tomorrow’s data, and design the tools, models and applications we will require. In her testimony before the Commission, MTS member Dr. Sharon Walker, Associate Dean of the College of Marine Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi, cited a study by the National Science Teachers Assn. (NSTA, 2000) that reported that our 52 million pre-college students are taught sciences by teachers largely lacking degrees in science: 83% of the middle school and practically all of the elementary teachers. 4 Children enter the educational system with a natural curiosity about the physical world. We need to capture and entrain this interest and the multi-disciplinary attraction of ocean science can provide a superb basis for teaching science, engineering, history and mathematics. Increased science literacy in the 21st Century is an essential component of educational reform. The Commission has called for a National Ocean Education Office and a Committee on Ocean Science, Education, Technology, and Operations to serve as the education component of an enhanced NOPP. The Marine Technology Society enthusiastically supports the commitment to a more coordinated structure for federal ocean education efforts. In our letter to the governors of the fifty states, the Marine Technology Society has urged their support of the findings and recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, specifically addressing the need for: • Supporting the overarching principle for ecosystems-based management • Implementing the National Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) based on a backbone of coordinated, interconnected U.S. regional ocean observing systems • Supporting a national ocean research strategy that promotes advances in basic and applied ocean science and technology, guiding relevant agencies in developing ten-year science plans and budgets • Increased attention to ocean education through coordinated and effective formal and informal programs from K through 12 to adults We thank the Congress and the President for the convening of this Commission and we look forward to working with all agencies of government, along with industry and academia in implementing the vision of a sustained ocean strategy for our nation.
Dr. Berrien Moore IIIDirectorInstitute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, my name is Berrien Moore III. In 1969, I received my PhD from the University of Virginia in Mathematics, and I have been engaged in biogeochemical research of the Earth and its atmosphere since 1976. I have served as the Director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space since 1987. A bit of biographical background for my comments may be helpful. I have contributed to committees of the National Academy of Science; this service includes Chairman of the Academy’s Committee on International Space Programs of the Space Studies Board. This Committee, in collaboration with the European Space Sciences Committee, jointly published “US – European Collaboration in Space Science." I also chaired the National Academy’s Committee on Global Change Research, which published in 1999 "Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade.” Currently, with Dr. Rick Anthes (President, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), I am co-Chairing a decadal study under the Space Studies Board: Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future. This study is being conducted in conjunction with other units of the National Research Council, to generate prioritized recommendations from the Earth and environmental science and applications community regarding space-based observational approaches that encompass the research programs of NASA and the related operational programs of NOAA. I should also note that from 1988 to 1992, I Chaired NASA's senior science advisory panel, the Space Science and Applications Advisory Committee. From 1998 to 2002, I served as Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). Recently, I Chaired the Research Review Team of the Science Advisory Board of NOAA, charged with the broad task of providing findings and recommendations for NOAA to use to enhance its research organization and connection to operational activities. These findings and recommendations were presented in “A Review of Organization and Management of Research in NOAA: A Report to the NOAA Science Advisory Board” I wish to stress that this testimony represents my own views, but these views are naturally a product of my close involvement with NOAA and NASA and the issues, viewed broadly, of global environmental. From my reading of the “Report of the U.S Commission on Ocean Policy” there are four major themes that emerge: · Governance; · Ecosystem based management; · Science, and · Education. The Report of the Ocean Policy Commission recommends a governance framework that increases integration of ocean related programs at the national level through the creation of a stronger NOAA and a National Oceans Council with an intact advisory board external of government. I support this Recommendation. In this support, let me note that the governance framework, and indeed all the recommendations in the Report, seek to allow regional development and implementation of solutions to ocean issues with national support. In this vein, the Commission calls for regional data and information programs to bring together the disparate and fragmented information on ocean processes, health, and function so that it is available to regional policy makers. This is a concrete move toward ecosystem-based approaches, which would need to have both national impetus and regional implementation - as would ocean observing systems. The Commission recognizes clearly that NOAA is a science-based agency with operational responsibilities. The Ocean Policy Commission recommendation for restructuring along functional lines goes further than the recommendations of the Research Review Team, but it is generally consistent with its findings and recommendations. The Review Team proposed several means of integrating the research activities across line offices as the first stage of a possible restructuring process. The expansion of programs such as ocean exploration, ocean mapping, aquaculture, preventing the spread of invasive species, oceans and human health, and the leadership of an integrated ocean observing program, should be considered as critical building blocks for the future development of NOAA’s ocean-related research program. The Commission’s recommended consolidation of currently fragmented programs across all federal agencies, including NOAA, will challenge the agency to ensure that the science and research support for these activities can be maintained within NOAA and its external partners. The Commission’s report and the Research Review Team’s report are quite complementary. The same issues come forward in both reviews. These include increasing the national level of coordination and planning for science, strengthening cooperation between agencies -- particularly NOAA, NSF and the Navy -- leveraging programs across agencies, and streamlining internal processes. Implicit in this level of planning is the need for enhancing NOAA’s stature and clarity, scientific integrity, and potential for budgetary growth. I believe that NOAA needs to embrace changes such as those set forth in the Report of the Research Review Team, and I am delighted to see evidence that changes for the better are beginning to take hold within NOAA such as a NOAA-wide Research Plan. In this vein, I must raise again the importance of having someone with budget authority overseeing the entire research enterprise as recommended by the Research Review Team. From my perspective as a scientist and educator, I was pleased to see that the Commission called for a doubling of the Federal ocean related research budget, implementing an integrated ocean observing system, investing in science infrastructure that more clearly links ocean issues to the context of Earth system science, and increasing support for ocean exploration. In addition, I support the call for a national effort in ocean education including a substantial education office within NOAA, the engagement and increases by NSF, ONR, NOAA and others in undergraduate and graduate training programs, and development of national curricula for ocean education at all levels. These are important steps, and they should be taken. However, in light of NOAA’s expanded set of responsibilities, these steps are not sufficient. The context for NOAA has changed fundamentally. The Administration has designated NOAA as the lead U.S. agency for the Global Earth Observing System of Systems and NOAA will have a lead role in the nation’s Climate Change Science Program. To respond to the challenges attendant with these roles, the nation needs and deserves a robust, forward-looking Federal agency focused on understanding and predicting changes in the environment of our planet. This is essential to meet the new and increasingly complex demands and challenges of the 21st century, including those posed by the Climate Change Science Program and the Global Earth Observing System as well as those noted by the Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. To meet this collective of new and expanded demands, NOAA must change, and important changes, as noted above, are recommended by both the Commission and the Research Review Team. However, greater structural changes are needed and therefore must be considered. Included among the changes that must be seriously considered is the creation of NOAA as an independent agency. As I reflect back on my collective experience and knowledge of NOAA, past and present, my own personal conclusion is that making NOAA an independent agency probably is essential. I acknowledge that the Commission’s Report neither explicitly calls for a change in line structure nor the creation of NOAA as an independent agency. However, it is clear from the Report’s recommendations and tone that significant structural change must be seriously considered, including the possibility of NOAA as independent agency. I recognize that this is a very significant change and that evolutionary steps may be needed. This process should begin soon, and as stated above, I believe that the eventual step should be that of making NOAA an independent agency. Congress and the scientific community know that there are limitations and inefficiencies in the current organization. We all recognize that the scope of challenges from weather and water to climate and air quality to ecosystem management, not to mention helping insure safe and efficient transportation systems, constitutes a step-change in NOAA’s responsibilities. In addition, Congress and the community also know that there are changes that are occurring at NASA which, almost certainly, will increase NOAA’s observational responsibilities, including significant increases in data processing and distribution. Linked with these increases will be an implicit need to expand greatly NOAA’s technology development capabilities. I believe that achieving a budgetary realignment in the area of Earth observation between NOAA and NASA would be far easier to achieve if NOAA were an independent agency. The NOAA Organic Act, as part of a National Ocean Policy Act, should set forth national goals as well as a strategy and structure to allow NOAA to meet its future responsibilities in its future context. To simply codify the status quo of the 1970s is insufficient and, in my view, inappropriate. It will do little in the way of improving governance or empowering NOAA to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. And that is exactly what is required to enable us to meet the challenges ahead, a strong NOAA with a structure appropriate to its tasks. In change there is opportunity, and it is up to us to help NOAA become all that it can be and all that we need it to be.
Vice Admiral Roger T. Rufe
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to present my views on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report (U.S. Commission). My name is Roger Rufe; I am the President of The Ocean Conservancy. The Ocean Conservancy (TOC) strives to be the world’s foremost advocate for the oceans. Through science-based advocacy, research, and public education, we inform, inspire, and empower people to speak and act for the oceans. TOC is the largest and oldest nonprofit conservation organization dedicated solely to protecting the marine environment. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., TOC has offices throughout the United States, including offices in Alaska, Maine, California, and Florida. The Ocean Conservancy has had a deep interest in the U.S. Commission even prior to its inception. We worked to help pass the Oceans Act which established the Commission; members of my staff and I have testified before the Commission and attended nearly every public hearing; and we have submitted detailed comments and recommendations to the Commission throughout its deliberations. Today I am speaking as a former member of the Pew Oceans Commission. This independent, bipartisan commission was composed of a diverse group of individuals from the worlds of science, fishing, conservation, government, education, business, and philanthropy. Our mandate was to look at living marine resources; the U.S. Commission had a broader mandate. After two and a half years of traveling around the country learning firsthand from thousands of people about the problems and challenges confronting our oceans, we presented our final report to the nation in June 2003 with detailed recommendations for how to protect and restore our nation’s living marine resources. While the members of the two commissions came from very different backgrounds and areas of expertise, their conclusions are striking more for their similarities than their differences. In a sense, while there were two commissions, they have spoken with one voice, declaring that our oceans and coasts are in a serious state of decline. For centuries, humanity has viewed the oceans as a vast and resilient realm. Now, however, because of this focus on utilization over conservation, our oceans show unmistakable signs of abuse and neglect. The Pew Commission believes that the nation must declare a principled, unified national ocean policy based on protecting ecosystem health and requiring sustainable use of ocean resources. The U.S. Commission shares a similar vision, one guided by, among other things, the principles of stewardship, sustainability, ecosystem-based management, preservation of marine biodiversity, and accountability. Today, I will speak to three issues within the purview of this Committee’s jurisdiction. First, I will speak to the similarities and differences in the approaches of the two commissions relative to reforming ocean governance at the federal level. Second, I will speak to the imperative of promoting ecosystem-based management, primarily through the formation of regional ecosystem councils. Third, I will focus on a series of much needed reforms to fisheries management. Please note that my testimony was prepared and delivered to this Committee prior to the release of the U.S. Commission’s final report. As a result, my comments are based on the preliminary report and information made available on the U.S. Commission’s website prior to the release of the final report. II. FEDERAL OCEAN GOVERNANCE Both the Pew and the U.S. Commissions concluded that the existing governance structure has proven inadequate to cope with the crises facing our oceans and that fundamental reforms are needed now to reverse this trend. To improve coordination among federal agencies, both Commissions recognized the need for a permanent cabinet-level interagency oceans council. A National Ocean Council would provide high-level attention to ocean and coastal issues, well-structured interagency coordination on ocean issues, including budgetary issues, and help ensure that all agencies are complying with national ocean policy and standards. I urge members of this Committee to work with the White House to expeditiously implement this recommendation. In addition, both commissions recognized the need for a lead oceans agency. The Pew Commission recommended that Congress should establish an independent agency outside the Department of Commerce that would consolidate under one roof as many federal ocean programs as is practical. In addition to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this would include programs within the Departments of Interior (DOI), Agriculture, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It would also raise the visibility and enhance the agency’s effectiveness in carrying out its mission and implementing the national ocean policy. An added benefit of this approach would be that if NOAA is made independent, the President would likely direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review its budget within OMB’s Natural Resources Programs, along with the budgets of the DOI and the EPA, where I believe it more appropriately belongs. Although the U.S. Commission took a more cautious and phased approach to this issue, it too recognized that the current governance structure is inadequate and that ultimately the solution rested with the President and Congress to reorganize the current federal structure. In that context, I believe the differences between the two commissions reflect more an issue of timing and process than end result and that, consistent with the recommendation of the Pew Commission, the time to act, and to act boldly, is now. I urge members of this Committee to make NOAA an independent agency. Both commissions also recognized the need for a national ocean policy. While the U.S. Commission includes principles that should be addressed in a national ocean policy, unfortunately it left the development of that policy to the National Ocean Council within the Executive Office. In contrast, the Pew Commission explicitly recommended that the Congress enact a national ocean policy to protect, maintain and restore the health of our nation’s marine ecosystems. The Pew Commission further recommended that the policy provide clear and measurable goals and standards to govern activities affecting the oceans, establish mechanisms to ensure compliance with the national policy, and establish national and regional institutions capable of carrying out that policy. In sum, we believe that Congress already has the information it needs to enact a comprehensive and visionary national ocean policy and that doing so is in our national interest. If we treat our oceans as a public trust we can enjoy all the goods and services that only a productive and resilient marine ecosystem can provide, including strong coastal communities and economies and improved quality of life. III. ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT I alluded earlier in my testimony to the fact that Americans have an outdated perception of our oceans as limitless, regardless of what we take out of them or dump into them. Perhaps equally important, we have failed until relatively recently to recognize and understand that our oceans are a complex web of diverse and unique ecosystems and that our actions, both on land and in the water, can and do adversely affect not only individual species of marine organisms but entire ocean ecosystems. Unfortunately, our current system of laws is sorely outdated for this task, having been developed in an era of species by species, activity by activity, management and regulation. Against this backdrop, both commissions recommended that governance mechanisms move away from the current antiquated and inadequate approach towards management of entire ecosystems. An important step in that direction is embodied in the Pew Commission’s recommendation that Congress enact legislation requiring the establishment of regional ocean ecosystem councils. These councils, consisting of appropriate federal, state, and tribal representatives, would be charged with developing and overseeing implementation of enforceable regional ocean governance plans to carry out the new national policy of protecting, maintaining, and restoring marine ecosystems. In order to be effective, the regional ocean governance plans would need to include performance goals and satisfy federal standards established under the national ocean policy. Although the U.S. Commission also recognized the need for improved regional coordination, it again deferred action to the National Ocean Council and suggested that those efforts be conducted on a pilot project basis. I urge you to consider the need for the more significant and bold action embodied in the Pew Commission’s recommendations. Although the enactment of a National Ocean Policy Act requiring federal, state and territorial agencies to protect, maintain, and restore marine and coastal ecosystems and reorienting national and regional decision-making bodies to these ends would be a significant step in the right direction, the Pew Commission recognized that we cannot stop there. Other improvements are desperately needed to adequately protect our ocean ecosystems. For example, we recommended that the regional ocean ecosystem councils utilize ocean zoning to improve marine resource conservation, create a plan for ocean uses, and reduce conflicts. As we envisioned it, this approach would include areas set aside as marine reserves, as part of a national network, to protect areas of national and regional significance. Marine reserves are one of the most effective proven tools for protecting and restoring healthy ecosystems. Although the U.S. Commission recognized that marine protected areas are important tools for ecosystem based management, it left the details to the National Ocean Council. It recommended that the Council develop national goals and guidelines leading to a uniform process for designation and implementation of such areas; hardly, in my opinion, a prescription for quick action to establish a national network of marine reserves. IV. FISHERIES REFORM The third point I would like to address in my testimony is the health of our nation’s marine fish. Both commissions agree that reforming our nation’s fisheries is vital to the long-term interest of the American people. As this Committee knows, the overall health of our nation’s fisheries is not good. The latest Status of the Stocks report published by the National Marine Fisheries Service states that we do not know the status of 78% of our nearly 900 fish stocks. Of those stocks that we do know the status of, approximately one-third are overfished, experiencing overfishing, or both. Modest changes in how we manage our fisheries will not bring these stocks back from the brink. Both commissions recognized that we must break the pattern of crisis management and adopt ecosystem-based management to achieve sustainable fisheries. In addition to redefining the objective of fishery policy away from an emphasis on short-term economic gains and towards sustaining the natural ecosystems on which individual species of fish depend, the Pew Commission recommended that there be a clear separation between conservation and allocation decisions in the fishery-management planning process. Conservation decisions must be made by scientists and based on sound science, not watered down by short-term economic interests. It is important to note that fisheries management can work. Where science-based limits are established and enforced, such as for many fisheries in Alaska, important fish stocks and fisheries are thriving. Unfortunately, science-based limits are more the exception than the rule. The U.S. Commission also recognized that there is a pressing need to ensure that catch levels are set by scientists, insulated from political pressures, while the regional fishery management councils are better suited to making allocation decisions and should continue in that role. Specifically, the U.S. Commission recommended that the Scientific and Statistical Committees should determine allowable biological catch based on the best scientific information available and that each regional fishery management council should be required to set harvest levels at or below that level. In addition to making marine ecosystems the organizing principle for fishery management and creating a clear separation between conservation and allocation decisions in the fishery management planning process, the composition of the regional fishery management councils needs to be changed. While the Pew Commission’s recommendations did not address this point specifically, we concluded that the regional fishery management councils are currently dominated by fishing interests and that a better representation of the broad public interest is needed. In this context, I support the recommendation of the U.S. Commission to broaden the membership of individual fishery management councils by requiring governors to submit a broad slate of candidates for vacant council seats. In addition to representatives of the commercial and recreational fishing sectors, the U.S. Commission appropriately called on Congress to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act to require that the slate of candidates also include representatives of the general public and that the ultimate composition of the councils reflect a broad and balanced range of interests. Finally, I urge this Committee to give serious consideration to the U.S. Commission’s recommendations to strengthen fisheries enforcement and make fishery management training of council members mandatory. V. CONCLUSION In conclusion, it is time to fundamentally redefine our nation’s relationship to the sea, recognizing that the role that the oceans play in our daily lives has grown considerably since the Stratton Commission. Today, our oceans are not only an important source of food but play a significant role in energy production, international trade, tourism, and recreation. Increasingly, the seas are revealing new opportunities for advancement in other arenas, such as medicine, science, and technology. At the beginning of the last century, President Theodore Roosevelt created a vision and an environmental ethic that laid the foundation for our nation’s parks, refuges and forests. At the beginning of this century, Congress and the President must take similar bold and visionary action to restore the health of our imperiled oceans and protect their resources for generations to come. But to truly save the oceans, all Americans must adopt an ocean ethic that is at least as strong as our land ethic—that sees value in restoring and protecting wild areas for their beauty and capacity to restore and replenish life. I urge the Members of this Committee to bring the vision and political will necessary to reform our ocean laws and policies to protect, maintain and restore the health of ocean ecosystems. With so much at stake, ecologically and economically, it is imperative that we move quickly and decisively to build on the foundation laid by both commissions to improve the management of our oceans. We are pleased that these reports have already generated significant interest and action on Capitol Hill. I, along with other members of the Pew Commission, stand ready to work with you to translate their recommendations into law. Thank you. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Dr. D. James BakerVice PresidentJP Morgan Securities, Inc.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to testify at this important hearing. I am D. James Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. I am pleased to have been the longest-serving Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1993 to 2001. I am also serving now as the Chair of the international Steering Committee for the Global Ocean Observing System sponsored by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Program, and the International Council for Science. I am pleased to testify in favor of the final recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy because they will provide strength to the vital oceans and coastal programs our country needs. U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Recommendations Mr. Chairman, the science is clear: the nation's oceans are in trouble. We are rapidly stressing the ocean's ability to handle the human influences of pollution, overfishing, and climate change. The Commission’s recommendations should serve as a wake-up call that unless there is strong government and community commitment to protect ocean resources, we risk losing them forever. The report reminds us of how much we depend on the ocean, and of how much we neglect and abuse it. I believe that the President and Congress should welcome the report as the perfect opportunity for renewing America's commitment to conserving ocean resources so that they can be used by future generations for millennia to come. Just now, as we are facing a season of unusually strong hurricanes bearing down on us, we can see the criticality of accurate forecasts and warnings for our coastal and inland cities. NOAA’s satellites, systems for hurricane tracking and weather forecasting, and people who know how to get the message out are central to our nation’s safety. NOAA is protecting our coasts, our fisheries and marine mammals by working closely and effectively with a broad spectrum of constituents. NOAA provides the data and understanding for us to deal with climate change ranging from El Nino to global warming. Therefore, a strong NOAA is a critical element in the success of the Commission’s recommendations. From weather and climate to fisheries and coastal zone management, NOAA has had an important impact on the conduct of national and world affairs since it was formed in 1970. During my tenure, I was pleased to see Congress support these critical missions and increase the budget substantially. NOAA needs to be strengthened Today NOAA leads in civil satellite operations, in ocean exploration, and in coastal conservation among other issues. Yet at critical times in these and other national policy debates there have been questions about NOAA’s mission and authority especially where NOAA’s programs appeared to overlap that of other agencies. The Commission’s recommendations for a stronger NOAA would help avoid these unnecessary debates and allow NOAA to carry out its mission. The Commission has identified the urgency and importance for our country to deal with oceans issues from national security to off shore drilling. The Pew Oceans Commission report America's Living Oceans has come to similar conclusions. The August 16 issue of U.S. News and World Report was dedicated to oceans issues and the central role of NOAA in shaping our future. The time is right to reaffirm NOAA as a strong agency with the ability to act independently to provide a national focus on these issues. The oceans bills now under consideration by your Committee provide a basis for that stronger role. When NOAA was formed in 1970, it was meant to be an independent agency like EPA or NASA. NOAA has had many successes and has shown that it can deliver the science, policy, and leadership so important for our role in a changing and more vulnerable world. Today, we have the best weather service in the world, our data bases for the environment are massive, and we have a much better understanding of forecasting El Nino and longer term climate change. But the environmental problems we face are getting more and more difficult. Ecosystem management, the concept that involves an understanding of the many interacting systems that affect our environment, must be the order of the day as the Commission has recommended. NOAA has been a leader in ecosystem management. I believe that the environmental problems that the nation faces today are such that NOAA should be made stronger and more independent. As we look to the future, we will be facing increased vulnerability to natural disasters, more national and global pressure on marine fisheries, more non-point source pollution and more dead zones around our coasts. We will be doing more offshore drilling, and the biodiversity of the sea will be explored with new molecular techniques. We will continue to operate under the burden of not being a signatory to the Law of the Sea Convention. The Commission has documented well the problems we face. NOAA is hampered by having to operate in the Department of Commerce whose main interest is trade and economic analysis. Traditionally, the Secretary of Commerce has little knowledge or interest in the important national environmental issues that NOAA deals with. As a consequence critical programs are constrained and budget priorities are ignored. This does not bode well for the future of a changed world of increasing vulnerability. The true support for NOAA has come from Congress, which has sustained the agency in the face of Administration neglect. Now we look to Congress to take the next important step for a stronger and more independent agency. Public Education The Commission is also strongly supportive of marine education. I was glad to see this. My experience is that NOAA has not been able to do as much as it could in educating the public, and I have always been impressed with what NASA has done. NOAA needs more support for educational and outreach programs. I was pleased to see that Congress has helped NOAA to sponsor a major new exhibit on the oceans at the Smithsonian, and I hope that more such exhibits and outreach can be supported. I learned at NOAA that the more the public was educated about our issues, the better the support we would have in dealing with difficult issues. After I left my job as Administrator of NOAA, I wanted to join an institution that had both research and public outreach, and I was lucky enough to become President of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, the oldest continuously operating natural history institution in the western hemisphere. At the Academy we are developing new programs to show the public the tradeoffs involved in making environmental decisions. We have started a new Town Square program where citizens, policy makers, representatives of business, and scientists can discuss issues like watershed restoration and dam removal to understand all the aspects. NOAA might consider helping establish other such programs around the country, with experts from NOAA talking along with others. In any case, more support and emphasis on education would be very helpful for decision making. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I appreciate the opportunity to testify, and look forward to a stronger and more independent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dr. Victoria J. Fabry Ph. D
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting myself and Dr. Fabry to discuss the impacts of anthropogenic CO2 on coral reefs and other marine calcifiers in the oceans. We are appearing before the Committee today in our capacity as co-authors of two recent back-to-back papers in Science covering this topic, and are not representing the policies and views of NOAA or the Administration. Carbon dioxide is one of the most important gases in the atmosphere affecting the radiative heat balance of the earth. For 400,000 years prior to the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 concentrations remained between 200 to 280 parts per million (ppm). As a result of the industrial and agricultural activities of humans, current atmospheric CO2 concentrations are around 380 ppm, increasing at about 1% per year. Over the past two decades, only half of the CO2 released by human activity has remained in the atmosphere; of the remainder about 30% has been taken up by the ocean and 20% by the terrestrial biosphere. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now higher than experienced on Earth for at least the last 400,000 years, and is expected to continue to rise, leading to significant global temperature increases by the end of this century. The global oceans are the largest natural reservoir for this excess carbon dioxide, each year absorbing approximately one-third of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activities, and over the next millennium, will absorb approximately 90% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. It is now well established that there is a strong possibility that surface ocean pCO2 levels will double over their pre-industrial values by the middle of this century, with accompanying surface ocean pH and carbonate ion decreases that are greater than those experienced during the transition from glacial to interglacial periods. Results of the Global WOCE/JGOFS/OACES CO2 Survey One of the most important recent advances has been the acquisition of a new global data set of ocean tracer and carbon system observations gathered during the 1990s as part of three major research programs: the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), and the Ocean-Atmosphere Carbon Exchange Study (OACES) of NOAA conducted by scientists from the United States, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, and Germany. This new global data set of ocean carbon system observations, co-sponsored in the United States by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is unprecedented with more than 72,000 observations and 10 times better accuracy than the previous global survey in the 1970s. The results show an uptake of anthropogenic CO2 of approximately 118 ± 19 billion metric tonnes of carbon through 1994. If the ocean had not removed this amount of anthropogenic carbon, the CO2 level in the atmosphere would be about 55 parts per million greater than currently observed. Impacts of Anthropogenic CO2 on CO2 Chemistry in the Oceans The uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the ocean changes the seawater chemistry and potentially can have significant impacts on the biological systems in the upper oceans. Estimates of future atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenarios and general circulation models that include the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients, indicate that by middle of this century atmospheric CO2 levels could be reach over 500 ppm, and near the end of the century they could be over 800 ppm. Corresponding models for the oceans indicate that surface water pH drop would be approximately 0.4 pH units, and the carbonate ion concentration would decrease almost 55 % by the end of the century (Figure 1). This surface ocean pH drop would be lower than it has been for more than five million years. A pH reduction of approximately 0.1 unit in surface waters has occurred already due to oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2. Ecological Impacts of Changing CO2 Chemistry on Marine Organisms Recent field and laboratory studies reveal that the carbonate chemistry of seawater has a profound effect on the calcification rates of individual species and communities in both planktonic and bottom habitats. The calcification rate of nearly all calcifying organisms investigated to date decreased in response to decreased carbonate ion concentration. This response holds across multiple taxonomic groups – from single-celled protists to reef-building corals (Table 1). In general, when pCO2 was increased to two times pre-industrial levels, a decrease in the calcification rate was observed, ranging from -5 to -50%. For example, decreased carbonate ion concentration has been shown to significantly reduce the ability of reef-building corals to produce their calcium carbonate skeletons, affecting growth of individual corals and the ability of the larger reef to maintain a positive balance between reef building and reef erosion. Scientists also have seen a reduced ability to produce protective calcium carbonate shells in species of marine algae (coccolithophorids) and planktonic molluscs (pteropods), on which other marine organisms feed (Figure 2). Calcification probably serves multiple functions in calcifying organisms. Decreased calcification would presumably compromise the fitness or success of these organisms and could shift the competitive advantage towards non-calcifiers. Carbonate skeletal structures are likely to be weaker and more susceptible to dissolution and erosion. While long-term consequences are unknown, experimental results from a marine mesocosm indicate that coral reef organisms do not acclimate to decreasing carbonate saturation state over several years. Thus, if calcifying organisms cannot adapt to the changes in seawater chemistry that will occur, the geographical range of some species may be reduced or may shift latitudinally in response to rising CO2. Based on our present knowledge, it appears that, as seawater CO2 levels rise, the skeletal growth rates of calcareous organisms will be reduced as a result of the effects of CO2 on calcification. The effects of decreased calcification in microscopic algae and animals could impact marine food webs and, combined with other climatic changes in salinity, temperature, and upwelled nutrients, could substantially alter the biodiversity and productivity of the ocean. As humans continue along the path of unintended CO2 sequestration in the surface oceans, the impacts on marine ecosystems will be direct and profound. Research Needs We are just beginning to understand the complex interactions between large-scale changes in ocean chemistry and marine ecological processes. Clearly, the seawater chemistry is changing over decadal time scales and these changes will impact marine biota. We need to continue making sustained observations of these changes in the ocean carbon system. Moreover, we need to conduct additional field and laboratory investigations of the biological and ecological response to increasing CO2. Such studies can feed into ecosystem models so that we can better predict the impacts that will affect the oceans and our planet in the future. New research is needed to gain a better understanding of how ocean biology and chemistry will operate differently under higher CO2 and lower pH conditions, so that predictive models can include appropriate representations of these processes. Mr. Chairman, this concludes our testimony. We thank you for the opportunity to discuss the impacts of anthropogenic CO2 on coral reefs and other marine calcifiers in the oceans. We would be happy to answer any questions you or other Members of the Committee may have. Figure 1. Changes in the inorganic carbon chemistry of surface seawater resulting from anthropogenic CO2 invasion into the oceans. Table 1. Measured responses of marine calcifying organisms to increased pCO2 Organism/ System Type of Calcium Carbonate Approximate % Change in Calcification when pCO2 is References 2Xpreindustrial 3X preindustrial Coccolithophores (Planktonic algae) Emiliania huxleyi Calcite -9 to -25 -18 Riebesell et al. 2000;Zondervan et al. 2001;Sciandra et al. 2003 Gephyrocapsa oceanica Calcite -29 -66 Riebesell et al. 2000;Zondervan et al. 2001 Foraminifera (Planktonic protists) Orbicula universa Calcite -8 -14 Spero et al. 1997; Bjima et al. 1999; Bjima et al. 2002 Globogerinoides sacculifer Calcite -4 to -6 -6 to -8 Bjima et al. 1999; Bjima et al. 2002 Reef-building corals (Scleractinian corals) Turbinaria reniformisPavona cactusGalaxea fasciculariaAcropora verweyi Aragonite -13-18-16-18 Marubini et al. 2003; Porites compressa Aragonite -14 to -20 Marubini et al. 2001 Porites porites Aragonite -16 Marubini & Thake 1999 Stylophora pistillata Aragonite 0 to -50 Reynaud et al. 2003 Coralline red algae Porolithon gardineri Magnesian calcite -25 Agegian 1985 Carbonate reef systems Biosphere 2 Mixed -40 Langdon et al. 2000;dominated by coralline algae Monaco mesocosm Mixed -21 Leclercq et al. 2000 Monaco mesocosm Mixed -15 Leclercq et al. 2002
Dr. Richard A. FeelySupervisory OceanographerNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting myself and Dr. Fabry to discuss the impacts of anthropogenic CO2 on coral reefs and other marine calcifiers in the oceans. We are appearing before the Committee today in our capacity as co-authors of two recent back-to-back papers in Science covering this topic, and are not representing the policies and views of NOAA or the Administration. Carbon dioxide is one of the most important gases in the atmosphere affecting the radiative heat balance of the earth. For 400,000 years prior to the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 concentrations remained between 200 to 280 parts per million (ppm). As a result of the industrial and agricultural activities of humans, current atmospheric CO2 concentrations are around 380 ppm, increasing at about 1% per year. Over the past two decades, only half of the CO2 released by human activity has remained in the atmosphere; of the remainder about 30% has been taken up by the ocean and 20% by the terrestrial biosphere. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now higher than experienced on Earth for at least the last 400,000 years, and is expected to continue to rise, leading to significant global temperature increases by the end of this century. The global oceans are the largest natural reservoir for this excess carbon dioxide, each year absorbing approximately one-third of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activities, and over the next millennium, will absorb approximately 90% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. It is now well established that there is a strong possibility that surface ocean pCO2 levels will double over their pre-industrial values by the middle of this century, with accompanying surface ocean pH and carbonate ion decreases that are greater than those experienced during the transition from glacial to interglacial periods. Results of the Global WOCE/JGOFS/OACES CO2 Survey One of the most important recent advances has been the acquisition of a new global data set of ocean tracer and carbon system observations gathered during the 1990s as part of three major research programs: the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), and the Ocean-Atmosphere Carbon Exchange Study (OACES) of NOAA conducted by scientists from the United States, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, and Germany. This new global data set of ocean carbon system observations, co-sponsored in the United States by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is unprecedented with more than 72,000 observations and 10 times better accuracy than the previous global survey in the 1970s. The results show an uptake of anthropogenic CO2 of approximately 118 ± 19 billion metric tonnes of carbon through 1994. If the ocean had not removed this amount of anthropogenic carbon, the CO2 level in the atmosphere would be about 55 parts per million greater than currently observed. Impacts of Anthropogenic CO2 on CO2 Chemistry in the Oceans The uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the ocean changes the seawater chemistry and potentially can have significant impacts on the biological systems in the upper oceans. Estimates of future atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenarios and general circulation models that include the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients, indicate that by middle of this century atmospheric CO2 levels could be reach over 500 ppm, and near the end of the century they could be over 800 ppm. Corresponding models for the oceans indicate that surface water pH drop would be approximately 0.4 pH units, and the carbonate ion concentration would decrease almost 55 % by the end of the century (Figure 1). This surface ocean pH drop would be lower than it has been for more than five million years. A pH reduction of approximately 0.1 unit in surface waters has occurred already due to oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2. Ecological Impacts of Changing CO2 Chemistry on Marine Organisms Recent field and laboratory studies reveal that the carbonate chemistry of seawater has a profound effect on the calcification rates of individual species and communities in both planktonic and bottom habitats. The calcification rate of nearly all calcifying organisms investigated to date decreased in response to decreased carbonate ion concentration. This response holds across multiple taxonomic groups – from single-celled protists to reef-building corals (Table 1). In general, when pCO2 was increased to two times pre-industrial levels, a decrease in the calcification rate was observed, ranging from -5 to -50%. For example, decreased carbonate ion concentration has been shown to significantly reduce the ability of reef-building corals to produce their calcium carbonate skeletons, affecting growth of individual corals and the ability of the larger reef to maintain a positive balance between reef building and reef erosion. Scientists also have seen a reduced ability to produce protective calcium carbonate shells in species of marine algae (coccolithophorids) and planktonic molluscs (pteropods), on which other marine organisms feed (Figure 2). Calcification probably serves multiple functions in calcifying organisms. Decreased calcification would presumably compromise the fitness or success of these organisms and could shift the competitive advantage towards non-calcifiers. Carbonate skeletal structures are likely to be weaker and more susceptible to dissolution and erosion. While long-term consequences are unknown, experimental results from a marine mesocosm indicate that coral reef organisms do not acclimate to decreasing carbonate saturation state over several years. Thus, if calcifying organisms cannot adapt to the changes in seawater chemistry that will occur, the geographical range of some species may be reduced or may shift latitudinally in response to rising CO2. Based on our present knowledge, it appears that, as seawater CO2 levels rise, the skeletal growth rates of calcareous organisms will be reduced as a result of the effects of CO2 on calcification. The effects of decreased calcification in microscopic algae and animals could impact marine food webs and, combined with other climatic changes in salinity, temperature, and upwelled nutrients, could substantially alter the biodiversity and productivity of the ocean. As humans continue along the path of unintended CO2 sequestration in the surface oceans, the impacts on marine ecosystems will be direct and profound. Research Needs We are just beginning to understand the complex interactions between large-scale changes in ocean chemistry and marine ecological processes. Clearly, the seawater chemistry is changing over decadal time scales and these changes will impact marine biota. We need to continue making sustained observations of these changes in the ocean carbon system. Moreover, we need to conduct additional field and laboratory investigations of the biological and ecological response to increasing CO2. Such studies can feed into ecosystem models so that we can better predict the impacts that will affect the oceans and our planet in the future. New research is needed to gain a better understanding of how ocean biology and chemistry will operate differently under higher CO2 and lower pH conditions, so that predictive models can include appropriate representations of these processes. Mr. Chairman, this concludes our testimony. We thank you for the opportunity to discuss the impacts of anthropogenic CO2 on coral reefs and other marine calcifiers in the oceans. We would be happy to answer any questions you or other Members of the Committee may have.