[Coral-List] Regarding the National Ocean Policy.

Kaufman, Leslie S lesk at bu.edu
Mon Nov 25 14:11:39 EST 2013

Hi all.  I am responding to this posting on Coral List:

Message: 2
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 16:33:03 -0500
From: "Melbourne Briscoe" <Mel at briscoe.com<mailto:Mel at briscoe.com>>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] The Diving Industry and Ocean Conservation
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>>
Message-ID: <1dd801cee7ca$6cf57a00$46e06e00$@Briscoe.com<mailto:1dd801cee7ca$6cf57a00$46e06e00$@Briscoe.com>>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Here are two things I've heard expressed, often forcefully!

** The NOP is a creation of the Obama administration, and has no apparent
Congressional support, there may even be some enmity there.  As such, it
will likely go away when the Obama administration goes away, as did the Bush
Ocean Action Plan before it.  Even the Obama administration has not been
particularly supportive of the NOP, at least not with money. NOAA is the
plan's biggest advocate, but now NOAA has a new administrator....so who

**  DEMA is probably correct in not getting behind the NOP. Why waste the
effort and any silver bullets they may have? Relationships between NOAA and
the dive industry have not been especially cordial, so the level of trust
toward NOP/NOAA is low.

In my view,
The folks on this list are quite supportive of the NOP because they take it
at face value and there are parts of it they like a lot.
DEMA is not supportive of the NOP, because they distrust the players and
motives, and there are some parts of the NOP they don't like at all.

I think one can get more legacy from discussions with Congress in the many
coastal states, than by lining up behind sweeping administration policies
that probably doomed.

Whether the NOP persists past Obama or not, and whether it was perfectly crafted or not, are not the point.  The NOP as written captures key issues that are pertinent to any law- past, present, or future- that purports to harmonize and sustain ocean uses and benefits.

Legislative initiatives (like executive orders) come and go.  The value that readers of Coral List can add to the discourse has to do with the fundamental principles upon which any ocean law must be based in order to work.  It is also these principles that could best be shared with the sport diving community, and that they could jump aboard in supporting, through whatever the instrument of the day might happen to be.  These include but are not limited to (1) the need for a whole-system, ecosystem-based view, (2) the need to harmonize all existing ocean use laws and cumulatively reach a rational policy closure in the ocean (no free for alls), (3) the need to recognize and understand tradeoffs among ecosystem services or resources, and to find favorable outcomes among competing special interest groups who are battling each for their own well-being and favored resources.

This is not a matter of state vs. federal mandates.  It happens that state-led initiatives in coastal ocean management have been the most successful (most notably so far, California, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts)...but things would go a lot faster if the states could operate with federal assistance.

Criticizing the NOP as a partisan or flawed device is totally missing the point.  First see how you feel about the principles that motivated the NOP and created a need for national ocean use legislation, then worry about the strategy for instantiating these principles into law, under any and every administration.  We'd better hurry.  It's already evident that ocean wealth isn't going to wait around for us.  If we do not respect and sustain the fountainheads from which it springs, the spring will simply run dry.


Les Kaufman
Professor of Biology
Boston University Marine Program
Marine Conservation Fellow
Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics
Conservation International
lesk at bu.edu<mailto:lesk at bu.edu>

More information about the Coral-List mailing list