Jonathan kelsey jonathan.kelsey at noaa.gov
Mon Sep 25 17:38:36 EDT 2006

   Apologies for cross-postings...




                  Public Comment Period Open for 145 Days

               The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
   and  the  Department  of  the  Interior today jointly released a draft
   framework  that  outlines  guidance for cooperative efforts to develop
   the  national  system  of  marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United
   States,  as  called  for  in  Presidential Executive Order 13158.  The
   draft  framework  will  be  available for public comment for 145 days.
   Electronic copies  of the draft framework and all associated documents
   can be found at [1]http://www.MPA.gov.

                The first effort of its kind in the nation, the framework
   describes a national system of MPAs built in partnership with federal,
   state,  tribal,  and  local governments as well as other stakeholders.
   The  national  goal is to increase efficient protection of U.S. marine
   resources  by  enhancing  government  agency  cooperation,  helping to
   sustain  fisheries  and maintain healthy marine ecosystems for tourism
   and  recreation  businesses, and improving public access to scientific
   information about the nation's marine resources.

                 "The   Administration   is  firmly  committed  to  sound
   management  and  effective  conservation  of  our  ocean  and  coastal
   resources,"  Commerce  Secretary  Carlos  M.  Gutierrez  and  Interior
   Secretary  Dirk  Kempthorne  stated  in  a  jointly-signed  letter  to
   governors.  "The draft framework represents the culmination of several
   years'  work  to  better understand the nation's existing placed-based
   marine  conservation  efforts  and gather and incorporate an extensive
   set   of   recommendations   from  governmental  and  non-governmental
   stakeholders around the country."

   Crafted  with input from the 30-member MPA Federal Advisory Committee,
   state  agencies,  and the public, the framework proposes collaborative
   efforts  for  building the initial national system with existing MPAs.
   It also outlines guidance on building agency partnerships and engaging
   stakeholders  to enhance MPA stewardship.  These efforts are currently
   being  tested  on  a regional level by government agencies on the west

                "This  is  a  sound example of how government agencies at
   every  level  can  work together to improve the management of our vast
   ocean  resources,"  said  Conrad  C.  Lautenbacher, under secretary of
   Commerce  for  Oceans  and Atmosphere.  "As agencies strive to adopt a
   more  holistic  approach to managing marine ecosystems, this framework
   for  the  national  system  of MPAs will help ensure the legacy of our
   natural  and  cultural  marine resources for future generations, while
   balancing  economic,  recreational,  and  other uses of our oceans and

   MPAs  in  the  U.S. are managed by a host of federal, state, local and
   tribal  agencies,  including national marine sanctuaries, state parks,
   and  national  wildlife  refuges.   Under  the  proposed definition of
   "marine   protected  area"  in  the  framework,  the  National  Marine
   Protected  Areas  Center  has  initially identified about 1,500 marine
   conservation  areas,  managed by over 100 hundred agencies, that would
   likely  qualify  as MPAs under the proposed definition.  Most of these
   areas  were  established  after  1970,  allow  multiple  uses, and are
   managed  by  state  agencies.   While the proposed definition includes
   areas  ranging  from  those  that allow fishing to areas closed to all
   uses,  less  than  1 percent of U.S. waters are currently set aside as
   no-take marine reserves.

   "States and tribes are critical partners and play an essential role in
   marine  conservation,"  said Kameran Onley, assistant deputy secretary
   of  the  Department of the Interior.  "The effort to establish the MPA
   system  is  about  better  coordination,  better  management  and more
   effective use of resources.  It is not a federal take-over of state or
   tribal  marine  conservation areas, nor does it impose restrictions on
   the public's ability to use these areas."

   The  release  of  the  draft  framework is the result of more than two
   years  of ideas and comments received from a series of public dialogue
   meetings  and  federal,  state,  and  tribal agency workshops; the MPA
   Federal  Advisory  Committee;  fishery  management  councils; anglers;
   conservation organizations; the energy industry; commercial fishermen;
   coastal  communities; scientists; divers; and others.  Recommendations
   were  provided  to NOAA and the Department of the Interior in separate
   written reports by the federal advisory committee and the states.  The
   reports  as  well  as  comments  and notes from public meetings can be
   found on the [2]www.MPA.gov Web site.

   After  the  145-day  public  comment  period ends, the MPA Center will
   address  all  comments  received,  and  begin  working with government
   partners to establish the national system.

   Executive Order 13158 was signed by President Clinton in May 2000, and
   endorsed  by the Bush Administration in July 2001.  It calls for "...a
   scientifically   based,   comprehensive   national   system   of  MPAs
   representing  diverse U.S. marine ecosystems, and the Nation's natural
   and  cultural  resources."    The  President's U.S. Ocean Action Plan,
   released  in  2005,  outlines  a  variety of actions for promoting the
   responsible use and stewardship of ocean and coastal resources for the
   benefit  of  all  Americans.   These  actions, which emphasize greater
   scientific  and  programmatic  coordination  between ocean agencies as
   well  as  those  taken  under  the MPA Executive Order, complement one
   another and will be closely coordinated.

   For more information online:

   Department of Commerce - [3]http://www.doc.gov

   NOAA - [4]http://www.noaa.gov

   National Marine Protected Areas Center - [5]http://www.mpa.gov
   Department of the Interior - [6]http://www.doi.gov


   1. http://www.MPA.gov/
   2. http://www.mpa.gov/
   3. http://www.doc.gov/
   4. http://www.noaa.gov/
   5. http://www.mpa.gov/
   6. http://www.doi.gov/

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