July 20, 2010 in Nation/World

Obama launches new ocean policy

Julie Pace Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Monday announced a new national policy for strengthening the way the U.S. manages its oceans and coasts, and the Great Lakes.

The policy calls for the creation of a new National Ocean Council that will coordinate the work of the many federal agencies involved in conservation and marine planning. But it creates no new restrictions or regulations, and is not expected to have any short-term effect on offshore oil drilling.

Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the new policy recognizes that use of the ocean is expanding at a rate that challenges the ability to manage competing demands.

Among the central tenets of the policy is a zoning process that confines certain recreational and commercial activities to designated areas, known as marine spatial planning. Proponents of the process say it will help balance and manage competing uses of the oceans.

The policy is based on final recommendations from two dozen senior policy experts from across the government named to the Ocean Policy Task Force.

Obama signed an executive order adopting the recommendations Monday.

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