Biliana Cicin-Sain and Robert Knecht, co-directors of the University of Delaware Center for the Study of Marine Policy, have published a landmark book on how the United States governs the ocean around it. The Future of U.S. Ocean Policy: Choices for the New Century, published by Island Press, provides an in-depth analysis of American ocean policy and a call for action on the most critical marine issues facing the nation.
"Many programs for ocean protection and development were enacted in the 1970s, making the United States, at that time, a world leader in ocean management," says Professor Cicin-Sain. "However, these programs were flawed in the sense that they were based on single-sector approaches -- one set of regulations was created to manage offshore oil development, a different set of laws was made to manage fisheries, and so on. Reforming our ocean management system -- which still treats each ocean use separately and not part of an interconnected whole -- will be essential to achieve wise choices in the future."
In their book, Cicin-Sain and Knecht pinpoint nine ocean issues that will demand policy attention in the next decade. At the top of the list is implementing a workable plan for restoring America's most depleted fisheries. Other key issues range from returning coastal waters to a "swimmable and fishable" condition, to promoting new ocean-related technologies such as marine biotechnology.
To address these issues, the UD marine policy experts call for a national plan for developing the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which constitutes the "U.S. ocean"; a national ocean council to guide U.S. ocean policy, with representation by federal and state agencies, industries, scientists, and environmental groups; a stronger ocean partnership between the federal government and the 35 coastal states and territories; and U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity to help the nation regain its position of influence in international marine affairs.
"The ocean provides us with some of our most desirable food, least expensive transportation, and along its shores, wonderful places to restore the soul," says Professor Knecht (photo, right). "The ocean also is one of the most vital links in the intricate system that sustains all life on our planet. It is a complex set of interconnected parts, physical and biological, that operate as a whole producing the goods and services that we have come to take for granted.
"Our future can be bright if we manage the ocean as the coherent system that it is," he notes. "To fragment it to correspond to our political and administrative subdivisions is to turn our backs on this fundamental truth. We must begin to set ocean policy in ways that respect this inherent integrity. Surely it's easier to achieve harmonization of federal ocean programs than it is to part the seas along agency lines," he adds.
The book has received glowing reviews. "Everyone interested in America's stewardship of its coastal and ocean resources should read this well-balanced and well-researched book," said Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation. "It offers a compelling blueprint for ocean policy reform and for renewed leadership on ocean issues at the global level."
Roger McManus, president of the Center for Marine Conservation, said, "In the Future of U.S. Ocean Policy, Biliana Cicin-Sain and Robert Knecht have provided us with the ultimate guide to the emerging debate on U.S. ocean governance. This work is our handbook to change our future for the ocean."
For more information, contact the UD Center for the Study of Marine Policy at (302) 831-8086 or visit the publisher's Web site at www.islandpress.org.