President Obama on Monday (July 19) is set to create a national stewardship policy for America's oceans and Great Lakes, including a type of zoning that could dramatically rebalance the way government regulates offshore drilling, fishing and other marine activities.
The policy would not create new regulations or immediately alter drilling plans or fisheries management. But White House documents and senior administration officials suggest it would strengthen conservation and ecosystem protection.
The initiative culminates more than a year of work by a federal Ocean Policy Task Force, which Obama established last year. After the task force releases its final recommendations, the president is expected to sign an executive order directing federal agencies to adopt and implement them.
Calling the BP oil spill ravaging the Gulf of Mexico a "stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are," the recommendations center on creating a National Ocean Council to coordinate regulation of oceans and the Great Lakes, and on a principle of "ecosystem-based management" for marine areas….
The first draft of the policy, released in September, drew heavy criticism from some quarters, including industry and recreational anglers concerned that sport fishing might be restricted or banned.