President's plan neglects oceans, sanctuaries

President Obama has proposed a plan that could have unintended consequences for how we protect our oceans. On January 13 the president announced a government restructuring that would, among other things, transfer the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Interior. NMSF President Jason Patlis issued the following statement:

“While we applaud efforts to make our government more efficient, we are concerned that the plan – which seeks to reorganize the Commerce Department – treats NOAA as an afterthought.

“NOAA plays a critical role in our daily lives. From weather monitoring and forecasting to marine resource management, NOAA fulfills essential functions of our government. However, the president’s announcement does not articulate how the transition of such an important agency will be handled, nor does it consider the potentially profound implications of such a significant change. Any reorganization needs to carefully consider the impacts on our government's ability to protect America’s most valued underwater places, national marine sanctuaries.

“The administration should heed the recommendations of the two ocean commissions – the US Ocean Commission and the Pew Oceans Commission. They advised our government to either make NOAA an independent agency, or relocate NOAA only after making it stronger.

“Furthermore, we are disappointed by the lack of stakeholder input in this plan. Stakeholders were hardly given any notice of this announcement.

"We look forward to the administration providing more information on what could be a very meaningful decision.”

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