This week, the State Department hosted the “Our Ocean” conference, an international conference on sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. Today, as part of the closing of the conference, Obama, in a video message announced his new executive actions to preserve and protect the oceans. During Obama's first term, he launched the National Ocean Policy in order to streamline more than 100 laws that govern our oceans and create a coordinated, science-based approach of management. The conference discussed the variety of issues that were contained in the recently release National Climate Assessment that confirmed that climate change is causing sea levels and ocean temperatures to rise.
Today, Obama announced the commitment to use his authority to protect our Marina landscape, as he has done for our mountains, rivers and forests. He seeks input from other shareholders and world leaders before making decisions about the geographic scope and details of future marine protections. He has directed federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program aimed at stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. His administration will help establish a pathway to new marine sanctuaries, will implement his voluntary marine planning committees diverse coastal regional marine planning by the end of his term, and will address the impact of ocean acidification. It was announced, yesterday, that the Department of Interior has opened $102 million in competitive grants to build more resilience in coastal communities against future storms.
Obama, also stated that federal agencies are completing work on a new road map to streamline the permitting process for shellfish aquaculture by removing barriers in the permitting process. Currently, most seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, resulting in a seafood trade deficit of between $8 and $10 billion a year. Farming more shellfish will also be an economic boon to local communities, creating jobs and investment on our shores.