The Case for Ocean Planning:

In 2009 President Obama created the Ocean Policy Task Force the purpose of which was to “develop recommendations to enhance our ability to maintain healthy, resilient, and sustainable ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”

Final recommendations were published in 2010 which are now being used as a set of foundational planning guidelines in the use of our coastlines and territorial ocean waters for current and future generations. The recommendations can be found here

It is natural to applaud such efforts as a means by which to repair some of the damage human impact has had on the marine ecosystem over centuries past. It should also serve us well in looking forward to proactively avoid known environmental sins while sustaining traditional maritime industry. However, more than simply sustaining what we have is needed.

It is unrealistic to expect that future generations will require less in the way of access to raw materials by which to build their world. In fact, given global population and societal trends, it is logical to assume that future needs will require more of these basic ingredients by which economies are made. The simple truth is many of these resources will be found and sourced from the marine environment. Despite our knowing so little about them, oceans and large freshwater lakes likely contain many of the raw materials and natural characteristics which can and will significantly aid the necessary and inevitable expansion of human development.

A robust and growing set of US based marine industries is therefore not simply a nostalgic dream, something only to be found in history books. The marine environment is the largest natural feature of our world. In the US up until very recently it was the sea and the lakes from which much of our wealth was created or transported. While it is true that the time of many of those industries has passed, that by no means should allow us to conclude that there are not others who can take their place.

Ironically, those of us alive today have little or no experience building maritime industry, a predicament unimaginable only a few short generations ago. With the virtual elimination of the commercial shipbuilding from its most traditional American yards on through to the painful contractions of American fishing fleets, there are few if any alive today who have first hand experience at building new, large-scale, innovative and commercially viable marine based industries – it is a skill we will need to lean all over again.

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