The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative works with all sectors of the ocean community to encourage action and monitor progress toward meaningful ocean policy reform. Our shared commitment to achieving a coherent and coordinated national ocean policy is grounded in our firm belief that healthy and vibrant ocean and coastal ecosystems are crucial to our sustained economic and environmental well-being, public health, and standard of living, both now and in the future.
It is the Joint Initiative’s view that our nation must move toward ecosystem-based management, balancing the long-term health and sustainability of the ecosystem while also supporting economic prosperity. Doing so will require our nation’s leaders to take action to reform ocean governance, enhance the role of science in making management decisions, increase our commitment to education, and adequately fund ocean and coastal programs.
For example, a priority issue of concern is the need to better understand and address the links between oceans and climate change. Through their capacity to absorb and transport heat and cycle carbon, oceans are key drivers of climate change processes. In addition, they are undergoing significant short-and long-term changes, as evidenced by the increasing acidification of the oceans, climatic shifts associated with El Niño, dramatic changes in the amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean, rising sea levels, and concern about the possibility of abrupt climatic and ecological changes, particularly associated with shifts in ocean circulation.
Unfortunately, chronic underfunding of ocean-related science has prevented us from capitalizing on new technology and innovative ideas that would help address huge information gaps and significantly advance our understanding of ocean processes. Improved understanding of these processes will greatly enhance our ability to predict and address the economic and ecological ramifications associated with climate change. This information will be essential as Congress balances competing demands in the development of new national policies to minimize and adapt to climate change in the coming years and decades.
The Joint Initiative is committed to providing constructive assistance to all entities—federal, state, and local governments, as well as nongovernmental, academic, and private sector interests— and is dedicated to moving our nation toward a better coordinated national ocean policy, with an improved governance framework and enhanced management tools to carry out that policy.