Obama Administration officials also released the Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force on July 19, 2010, which would establish a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes (National Policy) and create a National Ocean Council (NOC) to strengthen ocean governance and coordination. The Final Recommendations prioritize actions for the NOC to pursue, and call for a flexible framework for coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes. The NOC would coordinate across the Federal Government to implement the National Policy. The Final Recommendations also call for the establishment of a Governance Coordinating Committee to formally engage with state, tribal, and local authorities.
Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) said, "President Obama recognized that our uses of the ocean are expanding at a rate that challenges our ability to manage significant and often competing demands. With a growing number of recreational, scientific, energy, and security activities, we need a national policy that sets the United States on a new path for the conservation and sustainable use of these critical natural resources."
On June 12, 2009, President Obama sent a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and Federal agencies establishing an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and charged it with developing recommendations to enhance national stewardship of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes and promote the long term conservation and use of these resources. The Task Force was led by CEQ and included 24 senior-level policy officials from across the Federal Government. At the President's direction, the Task Force released an Interim Report in September 2009 and an Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in December 2009.
Each of the reports was made available online for public comment. The Task Force received and reviewed close to 5,000 written comments from Congress, stakeholders, and the public before finalizing its recommendations. The Task Force's Final Recommendations combine and update the proposals contained in the two earlier reports.
Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), issued a statement saying, "Our oceans are in urgent need of a coordinated approach for their conservation and management, and this new national policy is a step in the right direction. Our oceans face numerous threats, from overfishing and pollution to climate change and acidification. The policy announced today acknowledges that our country needs to initiate a comprehensive program to ensure healthy and productive oceans and coasts for generations to come. The Obama administration's proposal creates a governance structure for the management of the oceans and sets out a program for marine spatial planning -- which, like zoning on land, would designate certain areas for diverse uses such as drilling, fishing, shipping and protection. But the proposal lacks guarantees for conservation and biodiversity protection. . . The policy announced today is a good and necessary step toward coordinated planning and conservation, but we have yet to see if it will translate into good management."