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The National Ocean Policy

2012 June 27

by Gwen Bausmith

Growing up in southwest Ohio, I lived over 600 miles away from the ocean, viewing it as a vacation destination, a place very far removed from the agricultural fields and suburbs of the Midwest. It wasn’t until years later that I learned how much all of our lives, whether coastal or inland, are dependent upon and directly impact our ocean and coasts. Where I lived, my local tributaries fed into the Ohio River, which flowed to the Mississippi River, emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, and finally became part of the Atlantic Ocean. Understanding this connection was crucial to realizing my role in ocean and coastal environments.

Healthy and productive ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes regions are a significant part of our nation’s economy, contributing to untold millions of dollars a year and supporting tens of millions of jobs. The oceans are essential in international trade, transportation, energy production, recreational and commercial fishing, national security, and tourism. They also provide many ecological benefits such as flood and storm protection, climate regulation, and important habitat for fish species, migratory birds, and mammals.

My family depended on all of these services, especially for consumer goods and food. In addition, my father worked in the steel industry, relying heavily on our nation’s waters for transporting materials.

On July 19, 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the federal government to develop a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, often referred to as the National Ocean Policy. It focuses on improving stewardship for our ocean and coastal resources and addressing their most pressing challenges.

It builds on over a decade of bipartisan discussions and looks toward a science-based approach for Federal, State, Tribal, and local partners to better manage the competing uses in these regions. Designed with extensive public and stakeholder input, the Policy will work to increase efficiencies across the Federal Government and provide access to better data to support multiple industries.

I am very proud to be a part of EPA’s involvement in the National Ocean Policy. EPA is committed to numerous actions and milestones in the Policy’s Implementation Plan, from improving water quality and promoting sustainable practices on land, to restoring and protecting regional ecosystems. I may not have realized it as a child growing up in the Midwest, but everyone has a stake in the future health of our ocean and coastal ecosystems. Every state is an ocean state.

About the Author: Gwen Bausmith is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellow at EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. June 27, 2012

    Hi, my family depended on all of these services to, especially for consumer food.
    thnks, The National Ocean Policy

  2. June 27, 2012

    It is good. Each of us, as the river, flows to human ocean. As a part of it we must protect common human ecosystem.

  3. June 27, 2012

    Gwen, I love your post on the National Ocean Policy. I am working on the outreach for a film, “Ocean Frontiers,” which sheds light on one of the key points you make: Every state is an ocean state and highlights the need for comprehensive ocean planning.

    A story in the film,, features Iowa farmers, and how by better tending their soils, are helping to restore the Gulf of Mexico, more than 1000 miles away! We also just had a Boulder, Colorado premiere of the film—helping to grow the new organization, Colorado Ocean Coalition’s inland ocean movement.

    I hope you and others check out the film,, and learn about the ‘Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship.’


  4. July 2, 2012

    The ocean affects all of us whether we like it or not. It is important that we try or best to keep it as clean as possible.

  5. July 10, 2012

    I love the article!
    As we go green more and more each day, next generations will be lucky to live on the same ecosystem as us. Things are changing fast and this is due to our current actions towards nature!

  6. July 11, 2012

    Recently I have seen a movie about our ocean with a huge amount of plastic. It’s time for a change. We need to charge the people who destroy our ocean.

  7. July 25, 2012

    As surfers and avid lovers of the water, the guys here at SEO and Company really appreciate all that you’ve done and continue to do. The health of our oceans is extremely important and we have to do our part to keep them clean. Thanks again!

  8. August 12, 2012

    I think all this is secondary. Obama should think about ocean after he has sorted out things like jobs etc for “humans”.


  9. senthil permalink
    December 16, 2013

    Basic stuff to protect the ocean is to avoiding the oil spillage (intention & accidental) and avoiding the oil rigs in the ocean

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