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Editorial Jan/Feb 2010

The december 9, 2009 interagency oceans policy

task force report

  On June 12, 2009 President Obama created the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to develop a comprehensive federal policy to solve and rectify all marine resources, conservation, and ocean environmental problems that exist today. The Task Force was given a period of 90 days to provide their recommendations on how to accomplish this monumental task. On September 9, 2009 the Task Force released their interim report which I had discussed in my editorial for the November /December 2009 issue of the Big Game Fishing Journal.
  On December 11, 2009 the Task Force released their 35 page report entitled “Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.” It lays out the Coastal Marine and Spatial Planning (CMSP) steps and procedures the Task Force would employ to accomplish their goals.
  After reading the report, it is apparent it was written in such a way to confuse the average person in an effort to mask what the primary reason this Task Force is attempting to accomplish—Federal Control.
  The Task Force will create a National Ocean Council (NOC) that all agencies will answer to including state, tribal, local authorities, and regional governance structures that will include fisheries management, oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, commerce and transportation, environmental /conservation (marine sanctuaries, reserves, national parks, and wildlife refuges), commercial fishing, and traditional recreational hunting, fishing and gathering.
  “The geographical scope of the planning area for CMSP in the United States includes the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and the continental shelf. The geographic scope of the planning area would extend landward to the mean high water line,” according to section VIII. page 8.
  The Task Force intends to subdivide the large marine ecosystems into nine regional planning areas, the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf Coast, West Coast, Great Lakes, Alaska, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean to facilitate the development of regional Coastal Marine Spatial Plans for these areas.
  The time the Task Force has allotted to go from Coastal Marine Spatial Planning to a Coastal Marine Spatial Plan is a two year period and up to five years to implement their plan. As the planning stages moves forward the Task Force has stated they will be open and candid with the public and allow the public the ability to comment on developments as the planning stage moves on. I’m not sure if I believe them, but we can only hope.
  This Coastal Marine Spatial Planning phase of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force must be monitored very closely for the next two years because of the organizations that are apparently steering their decisions. It is a perfect opportunity, and they know it, for the enviro groups to shut down large areas of ocean to fishing by creating marine sanctuaries, reserves, national parks, wildlife refuges and marine protection areas (MPA) with their bad science, half-truths and innuendos. If we allow this to happen, it could change our ability to recreationally fish for many years to come.

  Captain Len Belcaro