Healthy Oceans Blog

Trump Administration’s executive action threatens decades of valuable ocean conservation, repeals National Ocean Policy

Sarah Winter Whelan – 503-267-9577
Jenna Valente – 207-756-4050

Boston, MA - Today’s repeal of the National Ocean Policy is a retreat from common sense policies designed to protect coastal environments, communities and economies. The National Ocean Policy was the result of decades of bi-partisan research, recommendations, and public outreach. Its implementation centered on ensuring our federal government is more transparent, inclusive, efficient, and responsive to the priorities of the nation’s coastal states and stakeholders, while looking for ways to ensure healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems for future generations. 

“It is our obligation to our children to leave them a healthy, sustainable planet. That cannot just be a feel-good ideal but requires real policies that can do real things on a local, state and federal level,” said Sarah Winter Whelan, Ocean Policy Program Director and Director of the Healthy Oceans Coalition for the American Littoral Society. "The National Ocean Policy has served as our country’s commitment to protecting our ocean ecosystems and ushering in a new era of good ocean governance. This repeal is just one attack of many in the Administration’s war against environmental protection,” she continued.

Established in 2010, the National Ocean Policy was founded on the work of two blue ribbon, bi-partisan ocean policy commissions, both of which called for a comprehensive ocean policy to guide sustainable management of U.S. ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. Since its creation, the National Ocean Policy served as the framework for the long-term stewardship for our nation’s waters. In addition to promoting conservation, this framework fostered stronger economies for our coastal communities by prioritizing the work of the federal government around diverse priority objectives, ranging from improving coordination and integration across the Federal Government to enhancing water quality in the ocean, along our coasts, and in the Great Lakes.

Our nation’s ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes are hubs for commercial and recreational fishing, shipping, renewable energy production, high-speed telecommunications, science and research, tourism, and countless recreational interests and industries. The ocean and coastal waters of the United States are particularly valuable to the U.S. environment and economy - more than 123 million people reside along its coast. Additionally, the ocean, coast, and Great Lakes serve as an economic engine, generating more than $8.2 trillion in GDP and employ 3.2 million people.

"The National Ocean Policy benefits the people and communities who depend on a healthy coast and ocean. The Trump administration's decision to repeal the National Ocean Policy is a major blow for our nation's ocean recreation and tourism industries that contribute over $100 billion to the GDP every year," said Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director for Surfrider Foundation.   

The U.S. economy and a healthy environment are inextricably linked and the federal government needs to be able to collaborate across agencies and industry to proactively identify existing and potential conflicts and proposed solutions, to pave the way for more efficient permitting, use, and tools for a healthy, productive marine environment.

The National Ocean Policy helped in this effort by bringing together states, tribes, the federal government and stakeholders to plan for a shared ocean future through improved management. Supporting its implementation is the founding cornerstone of the Healthy Oceans Coalition and its principles are central to our mission.

"The National Ocean Policy provides direction to the federal agencies to prioritize our coastal and Great Lakes ecosystem.” added Vicki Nichols Goldstein, Founder and Executive Director of the Inland Ocean Coalition. “So much time and money is wasted when federal agencies are not working together. Given the tremendous pollution problems, development pressures, and multiple use needs, we need a clear system to address our most pressing challenges facing our ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. The National Ocean Policy gives us this structure," she continued.

The Healthy Oceans Coalition and our members are committed to continuing the National Ocean Policy’s legacy. “The National Ocean Policy is instrumental in connecting data and organizations from around the world to make informed decisions about our oceans,” Said Sheryl Gilmore, Executive Director of the Acadia Institute of Oceanography.  “As we train the next generation of scientists and lawmakers, they will look to the NOP to assure that they are the best stewards for its protection and that it may remain healthy for many more years to come.” The conservation challenges that the National Ocean Policy sought to overcome remain and must be addressed, by working with the government, tribal nations, and stakeholders to find collaborative solutions to ensure our ocean is healthy, productive and safe.