Regional and National Efforts to Implement the National Ocean Policy


Lori Faeth:  [0:02] Good afternoon. My name is Lori Faeth, I'm the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs here at the department of the Interior. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Beth Kerttula. She's the Director of the National Ocean Council. She came to this position following...she was at Stamford Center for Ocean Solutions as a visiting fellow where she's working to bring together policy makers and multiple...sorry, I really forget myself... [laughter] .

Lori:  [0:32] ...Where she's working to bring together policy makers from multiple disciplines to discuss the critical interplay of our oceans, climate change and society. She is a 15 year veteran of the Alaska House Representatives where she served as minority leader from 2006‑2013 and she's held best positions in the State of Alaska, Attorney General's office.

[0:53] She's sponsored some really amazing legislation while she was in Alaska to get at cruise ship pollution and ocean acidification. She's just been a real powerhouse since she joined us here in Washington DC as part of the National Oceans Council and so we're really lucky to have her with us today.

[1:13] As you know, it's National Oceans Day, part of National Oceans Month and there are a tremendous amount of events around oceans all week long. Thank you so much Beth for making the time to come and speak to us today and we look forward to your presentation.

[1:26] [applause]

Lori:  [1:28] Sorry, I thought too much on that .

Beth Kerttula:  [1:31] Thank you. Thanks very much for having me here today. It's great to be here with the Department of Interior and people here in the room and online. My name is Beth Kerttula and as Lori said, I'm an Alaskan.

[1:43] I came here almost exactly one year to the day to take over as National Ocean Council Director. When I came, I thought I knew a lot about the oceans. I grew up on the ocean. I grew up fishing and in Alaska we all spent a lot of time around the ocean.

[2:01] I really did not understand the tremendous effort that's going forward under the National Ocean Policy and within all of the federal agencies as well as the regions. I want to say thank you to Lori, one of the co‑chairs of our working groups for the National Ocean Council, and all of you out there who work on ocean issues. Because without you, we wouldn't be doing this well and because of you we're really moving forward.

[2:30] Not just on national ocean policy, but in making strides in many ways for the ocean. I'm going to give you a brief presentation about the National Ocean Policy. I figure everyone here knows that we do have a national ocean policy. We also have an implementation plan. We also recently put out highlights. I'm going to start with the National Ocean Policy objectives and a little history.

[2:58] In June 2009, President Obama established an inner agency Ocean Policy Task Force. In July of 2010, there was executive order signed that adopted the final recommendations, which you can see on the slide, the cover of it, of the task force and established a National Ocean Policy.

[3:21] The final recommendations, really it's an amazing document. It goes into incredible detail about a plan that really covers so many areas of the ocean and as you can see, everything from observations to the changing conditions in the Arctic to water quality to resilience to informing decisions and improving understanding to ecosystem‑based management. It had just about everything.

[3:49] It was an amazing effort. In terms of the Arctic, number two, one of my favorites being from Alaska. The National Ocean Council work and the work done under the National Ocean Policy, even before the final recommendations came out of National Ocean Council and the National Ocean Planning Effort. That effort is continuing today in a muriate of different ways. At the beginning, much of it happened right here, so I feel very proud of that.

[4:17] In 2011 through 2012, there were scoping meetings and public comments on a draft implementation plan for the National Ocean Policy. In April 2013, our National Ocean Policy implementation plan was released. The implementation plan took those, I don't want to say lofty, but in some ways it was lofty and of course it was also very broad from the final recommendations.

[4:47] The National Ocean Policy implementation plan, through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears from people in this room and online I'm sure, took that and really made it into a more manageable way to go forward to implement National Ocean Policy and this is the federal side of things. It focused on the ocean economy, safety and security, coastal and ocean resilience, local choices, science and information.

[5:16] We recently came out with a highlights report that went through the 214 different action items. That always just amazes me that there are so many different things happening, so many different great working groups, so many different agency personnel putting in a lot of time and effort to make this a success. You can go online take a look at the highlights report. It breaks it up under the action items.

[5:44] It will tell you how many have been finished, how many are still going, and all of the different areas. I want to run you through some of the areas just briefly so you can get a feel for just the amazing amount of work that you and the federal agencies are doing

[6:01] Under the ocean economy the first off‑shore aquaculture permits have been given in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. There's an amazing WindFloat Pacific Offshore Demonstration Project at Coos Bay in Oregon. That project is going to be a model for streamlining federal permitting for a long time to come. People who are in Oregon and on the West coast working on it, they're very, very committed.

[6:28] BOEM has been doing an amazing job from here at Department of Interior spearheading that. On the aquaculture permits I've been talking, and in fact he's here for CHOW for the Capitol Hill Oceans week. Get to talk to some of the aquaculture people from California on how they're doing, how their project's going, and what they need from us?

[6:57] Safety and security...always a huge issue with the oceans, our Navy, our Coastguard, and also the harmful algal blooms. Great project going on across agencies with a real step forward recently in terms of looking at how to better forecast for human health. It's not just Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and Florida it's also the Great Lakes, and of course after the incident in Toledo last year, focus there.

[7:29] Arctic Sea ice mapping, another action item under safety and security in the implementation plan. In Alaska and in the Arctic, global warming is happening at twice the rate of the rest of the world. It's a very, very big problem.

[7:45] I get to work with some of the great Department of Interior people here on coastal erosion problems in Alaska with communities that are quite literally falling into the ocean. I don't want to make light of the environmental issue, say it's not just the environmental issue, because of course that's so huge.

[8:04] It's also a cultural issue. It's also in some ways a humans' rights issue. What happens when communities are threatened this way? One of the big things that's happening is the ice is moving in unpredictable ways, coming in and out. Trying to do forecasting and mapping is a very big deal and that's part of things happening under the implementation plan.

[8:29] Coastal and ocean resilience, The Marine Debris Action Plans. EPA and NOAH are both doing wonderful work on marine debris and marine plastics. It's a pretty daunting issue and when you start talking about the little tiny particles that plastics go into in the ocean and you see the pictures of the fish and the birds.

[8:54] At least where we Alaskans when you start to think about how much fish we eat, and those particles getting in you, it sort of drives home how important this issue is. I just talked to one of the gentlemen at EPA who's working very hard on their marine plastics projects.

[9:12] He says something that I just feel which is, we're almost on a tipping point on marine debris, marine plastics. We're almost at the point I think where we're going to see a great stride forward. If you Google this, get online and take a look at all of the amazing entrepreneurship going on with marine debris and marine plastics.

[9:33] It's very, very heartening to see everybody from kids, to Pharrell Williams who's a musician, take it on. He's got a clothing line that's made out of marine plastics. [jokingly] I've wanted to call him up and say, "So, do you put the plastic in the water so you can take it out for your clothing?" There are videos online to show that it's the real thing.

[9:57] Lori Faeth, who just introduced me and I... [jokingly] if we'd really had it together we would be wearing clothing made out of marine plastic to the CHOW gala tomorrow night, but we weren't quite as on top of it as I wish but that was my goal.

[10:14] Again, with the resilience, working on blue carbon, working on carbon sequestration trying to understand how the ocean can better serve us and how we can do better by it.

[10:28] Science and information...Lots of science going on in the ocean, although one of the great challenges is how to keep up with it, how to keep up with the budgets, how to be sure that we're getting the observations and information that we need so we can make good decisions.

[10:47] There's a very interesting article on "Harper's." I think it was either last month or just at the beginning of this talking about a young woman that got to go down in Alvin in the gulf of Mexico Noah's little submarine and look at the ocean floor. Lots of amazing was going on interdepartmental under national ocean policy in the implementation plan.

[11:12] I'm going to shift now to talk a little bit about local choices, which is another theme under the implementation plan. It's also at the heart of the national ocean policy. There are nine marine regions in the United States and as you can see I have covered Alaska which is in a little box up on the right and that isn't where it is and it's not really how big it is.

[11:40] We don't share space with Hawaii as you all know but at any rate Alaska is one of the region as is the Pacific island, West Coast, Great Lakes, North East, Mid Atlantic, South East Gulf of Mexico. Five of these regions actually have stood up what are called regional planning bodies under the national ocean plan, and committed themselves to producing marine plan for the first time in the United States.

[12:07] Now there is other model. The regional fisheries management councils, cross country and also coastal zone management provide a lot of information, a lot of baseline to be doing these kind of things, but I can tell you the north east and the mid Atlantic are on track to be able to produce actual marine plants instituting their local choices over how they want their ocean used by about this time next year.

[12:37] It's a really amazing effort, and of course I can say that but it just doesn't even begin to paint the picture of all the work that has to go into these plants. There are thousands of people involved from both the federal side, the local people, the tribes.

[12:54] This is one of the few areas where the tribes have been involved and from the word go. Where they have input to what they want to see the same as everyone else. It's also a big experiment in governance, because the marine plants once instituted will be followed by the federal agencies but they don't create any new statute. They create no new regulation so it's a process that works those kinds of things out in the development of the plan.

[13:26] It's a pretty exciting effort. It's also a daunting one. The North East just finished a regional planning body meeting late last week and they're starting to come out with their draft to show how they are going to go forward. One of the really exciting developments that I think is going to push all this effort, science and decision making, the joining of it together in a big way are the regional data portals.

[13:56] In the development of regional plans and in deciding how to make those decisions and how to go forward obviously you have a need for data. You need good sound scientific information to be able to make the kinds of decisions that we all need to see for the ocean.

[14:16] The data portals are an amazing inner agency, inner region, inner academic involvement in trying to get the right kind of information in the right way with data that can be used the right way so that frankly any of us can go onto a computer and going to an area and find out the information that we need that's critical for the decision making. It has a lot of exciting applications.

[14:47] It could be very useful in the [inaudible 14:50] process for permitting. It should be extremely useful for people trying to decide where to site things, say you have a wind farm and you want to put it in a certain spot then all you would do is go online, see the portal, take a good look at it, see the requirements, see what the national ocean policy regional plan says and you would be off.

[15:14] This is just an exciting step forward. It's something that in the legislature in my former life we talked a lot about trying to have a one stop shopping for permitting. Wouldn't it be great if applicants had to go one place to be able to find the information they needed and how to go forward.

[15:33] It's the same kind of thinking. How can we make better decisions? How can you let people know earlier on if you moved your project two hundred feet over you would do better or how to avoid the interactions with the whales and sea mammals? How do you have shipping lanes?

[15:52] There's a great example from Boston Harbor of marine planning with shipping lanes and the [inaudible 15:57] whales and the success story there of the interaction to try and figure out how both could peacefully co exist. That's the kind of thing that the national ocean policy is all about.

[16:09] It's about coordination, people having a voice in the decision making, locals coming up and the federal agencies working with those local people to make this all work and be successful. It's also about a tremendous effort on the federal side to coordinate among themselves to be able to get at tough ocean issues.

[16:36] I can tell you that the steering committee that has been my pleasure to be a part of has some phenomenally committed and insightful people who work very hard to be sure that the information get out across agencies. I know they exist. I know turf battles exist. They will and any federal government of course, but I have seen little of it in this program.

[17:02] What I have seen instead is the ability to give information incredibly quickly to the right people so that the right decisions can be made and so that we could go forward. So with that I think I'm ahead of time, but I just wanted to give the brief overview and be happy to try to answer questions. It's been a real learning experience for me.

[17:24] I want to thank the department of interior, people in this room particularly for letting me speak and also for being supportive. I can tell you that it was kind of a cultural shock for me to come from Alaska to here and people have been very kind and are all working very hard. This is World Oceans day so I feel like it's a perfect day for me to be with you and I appreciate this thank you.

Beth:  [17:50] Let's begin with some question from the Internet. Are there any? All right. Questions from the room.

Dan Collins:  [18:06] I'm Dan Collins with the acquisition and property management office. This is a very simple question for those who might not be familiar with the term but could you explain the blue carbon the concept a little bit?

Lori:  [18:16] The context on blue carbon is the ocean can serve as cleaning for the atmosphere. The carbon goes in cleaned, we have fresher air fresher world. In essence that's my understanding and my way of explaining it but if we talk about sequestration it's a very good place for it.

[18:40] You can build wet ones, you can revive that effort and that's part of what's going on is to see how that really works and does it work. It's a lot of observations but that's a theory and that's why we work on it.

Male Interviewer:  [19:00] You mentioned that the highlight has just come out, but could you give a vision of where you are going in the future? The regional planning bodies as they spool up and start producing things, there must be a vision for what you do going forward.

Beth:  [19:16] Thanks, great question. Let me talk about both sides. On the federal side we have an effort ongoing to really focus on some of the major areas of the implementation plan going forward, so that for the next year, year and a half, we have some pathway forward that's a little less broad, and to also take a look at how do we better implement the other non‑focus areas. That effort's going on.

[19:44] At the same time in the regions, really the Mid‑Atlantic and the North East have a big focus on them because they are two regions that are going to be coming forward with their marine plans. They've got better schedule, trying to keep the involvement from all the stakeholders and all of the groups working with them, to be able to come out with those robust marine plans as well as the inner link with the data portals.

[20:09] Even the regions that don't have regional planning bodies, and Alaska unfortunately is not part of this effort, although I have high hopes. The session has melted down in Alaska because of the budget this year. If they ever get out session, that they'll also join this effort.

[20:26] Even if you don't have a regional planning body, there is a lot of marine planning and a lot of great work going forward on the oceans. Some of the regions are doing so much work together already, that they've chosen not to do that formal step. They're just continuing to work with the federal agencies and among themselves in a way that maybe it's not quite as formal and they won't have the formal plan but they are very much involved.

[20:50] Steps going forward, continue that focus, be able to highlight some of the real success stories coming out of national planning on the federal side. On the regional side, really the effort from National Issue and Council offices.

[21:04] Be sure the regions get the information and the support that they need, particularly from the federal agencies, so that the two regions can cross the finish line with their plans, but so that the other regions are also continuing in their effort to be able to implement good things for the ocean, whether they are going to call it National Ocean Planning or not. Great question, thank you.

Lori:  [21:26] Any questions in the room, the Internet? All right, anymore.

Female Interviewer:  [21:33] This is a matter of curiosity, I'm not sure you can help at all on it. but I was noticing Florida, seems to be in the South Atlantic region, but it's two coasts, one is on the Gulf and one is on the Atlantic side, and it seems they have twice as much to worry about, perhaps the states in other regions, and I just wondered about that.

Beth:  [21:55] Florida has a lot of issues. I've participated in the South Atlantic meeting, but it's a great question because obviously they've got the other side too. From sea level rise to climate change, the president went to the Everglades as part of the effort to highlight the problems that Florida is having.

[22:21] This is one of the reasons why I'm proud to be part of this effort. We have to change what's happening with the ocean, for the people in Florida as well as the people across the country on the coastline. I don't have the figure in my mind, but huge percentage of our population, because we all love the ocean, we want to be on the coastline, so many of us live there.

[22:41] It's not going to be just Alaska and Florida that are going to be facing major issues, it's going to be many people on the coast. Of course we've seen it with Hurricane Sandy and of course Katrina and the efforts there as well.

[22:57] I feel like the federal agencies, I would not have been able to say this before coming and seeing the tremendous work that the federal government is doing under the National Ocean Plan. To try to, one, understand it, two, to make sound scientific decisions, which is not always so easy when you don't have all the information. They're trying to get that information and then implement it through National Ocean Plan. Working together collaboratively which is just really a phenomenal thing.

[23:27] Similarly, the regions themselves have that strong voice and when these plans are finalized, that that voice will even be carried through hand and glove into the implementations, so it's pretty fun. Florida is a hard hit state.

Female Interviewer:  [23:50] My question goes really to the National Ocean Council. What is the makeup of the council and the background and representation?

Beth:  [24:01] I apologize, I had a slide on that and I didn't manage to get it into the deck, so I'm looking at it as [laughs] I speak. We've got 27 federal agencies that make up the council. It's co‑chaired by the directors of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Dr. John Holdren, and the head of CEQ, The Council on Environmental Quality, which is Christy Goldfuss.

[24:28] My apologies for not having the slide up, but you would see there's 27 agencies. Those are the co‑chairs, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, EPA, FERC The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, The Joint Chief of staff, NASA, NOAA, National Science Foundation, Coast Guard, Core of Engineers. Any way, If you Google it, you'll get the whole nice list. I apologize for not having said that earlier.

[25:03] I think it's a daunting task to have that many agencies involved. On the other hand it's the Ocean, what covers 71 percent of our world. You begin to get the significance when you think about how many agencies are part of this effort, and the tremendous push that has to happen, to be able to be sure Ocean survive. Thank you for asking.

Lori:  [25:34] Is there an Internet question?

Audience Member:  [25:35] Yes.

Lori:  [25:36] I'm glad to hear they are there.

[25:38] [laughter]

Female Interviewer:  [25:40] How does the National Ocean Policy collaborate with Government and Nonprofits in securing funding?

Beth:  [25:48] How do we collaborate in securing funding? It's Federal Government funding. On the other hand, there's also a program within the Federal Government that many of you probably are aware of, where people are really loaned to the Executive Office of the President.

[26:06] For instance, I'm on detail from Stanford University to come here and be able to work on Ocean policy. There is that effort, but like everything, it's tight. I'm glad to say that we are involved in the budget issues and that we do get to put our issues forward, and be able to suggest in particular on research and development issues, what we think the areas are that are critical.

[26:32] I can say that I know both CEQ and OSTP Office of Science Technology Policy are very supportive on Ocean's, Ocean's research, Ocean's Science.

Female Interviewer:  [26:48] How do the few states that have Ocean plans in existence interact with and influence the regional planning efforts?

Beth:  [26:56] I think that might be the states like Rhode Island that has its own ocean plan and also the many states that have their own Coastal Zone Management plans. A lot of overlap there between the people who do those plans and the people who do National Ocean planning, in some instances they are the same person.

[27:19] Those efforts are directly tied in and we get great information all the way around. Because of that, sometimes I think there is just one group of people that does Ocean's work all over the place. That isn't really quite true, but I will say that once you start doing this work or Coastal Zone management, you never really escape it.

[27:38] There's very, very good cross referencing and many are the people who have been doing this really have led the way in their own states to then take part in the regional planning.

Female Interviewer:  [27:56] Recognizing that there is 71 percent of the globe is covered with Ocean, is the National Ocean Policy or could you talk about examples of how working in international arena for some of these cross boundary issues

Beth:  [28:10] Right, I mean it is a fluid situation, right?

[28:14] [laughter]

Beth:  [28:15] Sorry, I couldn't help that. The Department of State and Secretary Kerry, with his Oceans Conference which is going to be in Valparaiso in Chile. I think it's October this year, has really taken a lot the same issues that we are talking about here. Marine debris a big one and works it on an international scale.

[28:42] We are part of that, we get to have input into it, we get to ask opinions and we give information to many people on the steering committee and in the agencies, of course a similarly helping with the Department of State's lead on that.

[28:57] In terms of the Arctic, Dr. Holdren, who is the head of the Office of Science Technology Policy, one of the co‑chairs of the National Ocean Policy at National Ocean Council, and my boss is the head of the Arctic Executive Steering Committee that was also just recently created by the President under an Executive Order. He's really dealing with the Federal Agencies working together on Arctic issues.

[29:26] Arctic Council is actually under the Department of State, but internally with the Federal Government, you've got the Steering Committee which is another tremendous effort to be sure that we're all working together, not at odds on the Arctic issues.

[29:41] A couple of really big inter place on the International scale. I can also say that I've been lucky to get to go to some conferences, to be able to understand better what other countries are doing. Europe has some planning efforts, and of course Australia with its barrier reef and with their marine protected areas have gone a little of a different direction but in similar ideas in terms of planning.

[30:06] It all comes together in the ocean and it's one of the reasons why we all should be connected and concerned about what happens in China, or Russia, or the Arctic.

Lori:  [30:19] Any other questions? Well, please join me in thanking Beth...

Beth:  [30:23] Oh this is a pleasure, thank you so much...

[30:25] [clapping]

Beth:  [30:29] I really appreciate it. Thank you.


Transcription by CastingWords

In 2010, President Obama established the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. The National Ocean Policy is intended to ensure the many Federal agencies involved in ocean activities deliver to the American people the kind of government action they deserve and expect: effectively collaborating inside and outside of Federal government; supporting our State, Tribal and local partners; providing easy access to information; and using taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively. To translate the National Ocean Policy into on-the-ground actions to benefit the American people, in 2013 the National Ocean Council released the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, which describes specific actions Federal agencies will take to address key ocean challenges, and enables states and communities to have greater input in Federal decisions.

In this seminar, Beth Kerttula will address the tremendous progress that Federal agencies have made in carrying out the actions described in the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan.For more information, go to:
Beth Kerttula, Director, National Ocean Council