By Alex Haro
President Obama has had to recently fight off accusations involving his poor handling on the BP Oil Crisis. However, he’s had something in the works concerning the welfare of our oceans since long before the Gulf Spill. July 19th marked the unveiling of the country’s first National Ocean Policy to protect and restore our oceans, lakes, and coastlines.
In June of 2009, President Obama assembled the Interagency Ocean Policy Task force (OPTF), a group convened to determine how we can better protect our oceans. In an irony-laced statement at the 2009 inception of the OPTF, Obama said “We have a stewardship responsibility to maintain healthy, resilient, and sustainable oceans, coasts and Great Lakes resources for the benefit of this and future generations.”
While the Ocean Policy wouldn’t have stopped the Gulf Spill from occurring, it would’ve been a much different story than fiasco that has unfolded. The 96-page policy outlines coordination in advance of a disaster like the Gulf Spill, improved protection of ecosystems, and puts forth an approach to enforcement.
Conservation activists like Surfrider’s Pete Stauffer are applauding the National Ocean Policy, saying “A National Ocean Policy a year ago shows the desire they have to provide better long-term management and ecosystem protection.”
With this task force in place, a much-needed change in procedure regarding our oceans and planet is on the way. Though this may be a small step, it’s still a step in the right direction.