Environmental Director, Surfrider Foundation
donald trump white house Barack obama

This week, the Trump administration quietly repealed Obama-era protections for the nation’s coastal waters. Photo: Official White House. Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian

The Inertia

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the repeal of the National Ocean Policy and issued a new executive order as a replacement. The National Ocean Policy was established by the Obama administration in 2010 based on the bipartisan recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and sought to address the many shortcomings of our nation’s piecemeal approach to ocean management.

In response to the announcement, Surfrider’s Environmental Director, Pete Stauffer issued the following statement:

“The Surfrider Foundation is deeply dismayed by the repeal of the National Ocean Policy by the Trump administration. Repealing the policy is a blow to sensible and effective management, and is yet another attack on our ocean and coastlines. Despite today’s action, Surfrider will continue to champion the principles of National Ocean Policy that have taken hold across the U.S. and support regional efforts that bring together states, tribes, stakeholders, and the public to protect our ocean and coasts for now and the future.”

Over the past eight years, the National Ocean Policy benefited ocean resources and the communities that depend on them by advancing a holistic and collaborative approach to management. The policy addressed key issues such as water quality, marine debris, coastal resilience and renewable energy through improved coordination across all levels of government, including federal, state and tribal representatives. The policy also improved opportunities for public and stakeholder participation in decisions that affect our coasts and ocean.

Moreover, this move by the administration could damage the many industries and jobs that depend on a healthy ocean. The ocean economy is an economic powerhouse, supporting more than three million jobs and contributing $320 billion to the gross domestic product per year. The majority of these jobs rely on clean coastal waters and healthy and abundant fish and wildlife.

A cornerstone of the National Ocean Policy was support for regional planning bodies (RPBs) that bring together states, federal agencies, stakeholders, tribes, and the public within distinct geographic regions to advance stewardship of the ocean and coasts. In regions such as the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, West Coast, and Pacific Islands, real progress has been made to protect the coastal ecosystems we all use and enjoy by advancing smart ocean planning.

Surfrider has been an active participant in the implementation of the National Ocean Policy by supporting regional planning bodies as a representative of coastal recreational users. With grassroots stakeholder engagement and data from our Coastal Recreation Use Studies, we have helped protect important ecological and recreational areas through the ocean planning process.

It is unclear what impact this repeal will have on the work of regional planning bodies (RPBs). In December of 2016, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast RPBs were finalized and the Obama administration signed regional ocean plans that are already being implemented. States are supportive of the process and could continue implementation – but without federal agency involvement, the primary goals of the National Ocean Policy cannot be met.

The Surfrider Foundation will continue to champion the principles of National Ocean Policy. We will also continue our support and participation in regional efforts that bring together states, tribes, stakeholders, and the public to protect our ocean and coastal resources for the future.

Editor’s Note: This story was co-authored by Matt Gove, Surfrider’s Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager.


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