Posted on June 1, 2015 by Sarah Winter Whelan
Since 2006, our nation has recognized and celebrated the importance of the ocean, coasts and our Great Lakes during the month of June. President George W. Bush began the tradition as a week for the oceans in 2006, which quickly morphed into a month-long celebration highlighting and recognizing our connection to the sea and the clear need to be better stewards of these resources.
On Friday, May 29, 2015, President Obama once again proclaimed June as National Oceans Month. In doing so, he pointed to the connection, and resulting responsibility we all have, to the ocean:
We are heirs to a vast expanse of oceans and waterways that have sustained our ancestors for centuries. As caretakers of our planet, we share an obligation to protect these magnificent ecosystems for generations to come. This month, let us work to do our part and recommit to leading the way toward a safer, cleaner, more stable world.
How is our nation working to tackle the present and looming challenges facing our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes? In large part, we look to our National Ocean Policy (NOP), which turns 5 years old in July. As President Obama points to in his declaration:
As part of my National Ocean Policy, we are creating a coordinated, science-based approach to managing our coasts and oceans, and we are focused on implementing specific, on-the-ground actions to improve our ocean economy and bolster ocean health.
In March of 2015, the National Ocean Council (NOC), the body made up of the 27 federal offices and departments with management authority over our nation’s ocean, coastal or Great Lakes resources, released its Report on the Implementation of the National Ocean Policy. The Report details the tremendous progress it is making toward implementing the 213 concrete actions agreed to by the NOC members to improve the health of our oceans, support our economy, bolster safety and security, and better understand how our activities impact the ocean.
Part of those efforts focus on regional marine planning efforts around our country, where states, federal agencies, tribal nations and ocean users come together to proactively plan for the use and protection of their region’s ocean, coastal or Great Lakes waters. So far, the regions of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, and West Coast have all stood up planning bodies with the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions due to have first iteration plans completed in 2016.
Clearly there is a lot going on this month as we celebrate our nation’s love of the ocean. Join the Healthy Oceans Coalition and its member organizations as we celebrate our connections to the ocean, our coasts and Great Lakes and the work of our National Ocean Policy to ensure healthy oceans for this and future generations of US citizens.