Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Tuesday applauded the Obama administration for finalizing its National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, the first-ever comprehensive framework for managing and preserving the health and productivity of our oceans.

Capps has been a vocal advocate for implementing the National Ocean Policy, leading several letters to the Council on Environmental Quality on the subject in recent years.

“I commend the administration for finalizing its plan to translate the National Ocean Policy into concrete actions that will benefit the Central Coast and the American people,” Capps said. “This plan could not come at a more critical time. Our oceans and coastlines face tremendous challenges in the years ahead, ranging from the threat of oil spills to climate change to the depletion of our fisheries.

“Now, more than ever, we need a coordinated, national approach for the management of our ocean and coastal resources that will help us tackle the challenges that threaten the health of our oceans to ensure that future generations can enjoy the wonders of our oceans.”

Some of the action items in the implementation plan include:

» Sharing more and better data about severe storms and sea level rise, which will help coastal communities prepare for threats.

» Providing better forecasting of ocean conditions and events to protect beachgoers and consumers from threats to their health and safety.

» Supporting voluntary regional marine planning based on regional and local priorities.

» Improving the Federal permitting process to save time and money for ocean-based industries and taxpayers, while protecting health, safety and the environment.

» Restoring important habitats that protect communities and support healthy ocean resources.

» Improving our capability to predict conditions and prevent negative impacts.

The National Ocean Policy was established by Executive Order on July 19, 2010. It created a National Ocean Council consisting of 27 federal agencies and departments, providing a venue for agencies to work cooperatively, share information and streamline decision-making. The council developed the implementation plan over the past two years while gathering extensive input from national, regional and local stakeholders from all marine sectors; tribal, state, and local governments; and the private sector, scientists, and the public.

Click here for more information about the implementation plan.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.