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Meridian Institute

US Commission on Ocean Policy

Related: Environment and Natural Resources

The US Commission on Ocean Policy was a federal advisory committee created by the Oceans Act of 2000 and made up of 16 members representing diverse interests. The Commission was charged with making recommendations to the President and Congress for a comprehensive and coordinated national ocean policy. Beginning in October 2002, Meridian Institute assisted the Commission in developing a strategic approach to fulfilling its mandate and facilitated numerous Commission retreats, deliberative sessions, and public meetings. Meridian also worked with senior Commission staff to coordinate the report-drafting process and with the Chairman and Executive Director of the Commission to resolve key issues for inclusion in the final recommendations.

In the course of its work, the Commission heard testimony from 447 witnesses, including top ocean scientists and researchers, environmental group and industry representatives, citizens, and government officials. The Commission delivered its final report, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, to the President and Congress in September 2004. The report calls for a new governance framework, more investment in marine science, and a new stewardship ethic by all Americans, all within the context of an ecosystem-based management approach, to halt the decline of the nation’s oceans and coasts. In total, the Commission put forward 212 recommendations for a new national ocean policy in the 610-page report.

Under the Oceans Act, the President was required to submit to Congress within 90 days a statement of proposals to implement or respond to the Commission’s findings and recommendations. In response, the Bush Administration established by Executive Order an interagency federal coordinating structure and released the U.S. Ocean Action Plan and the Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy.


The work of the US Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, a private effort that occurred simultaneously and resulted in many complementary recommendations, is being carried forward by the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, an effort also facilitated by Meridian.

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