This week, everyone’s talking about President Obama’s new national policy on oceans, which was unvieled Monday afternoon Hawaii time. Call it a hopeful guess, really–we’re putting the paper to bed at four o’clock Monday, and have no idea whether people will be talking about the new framework come Wednesday morning.
But we should. At first glace, the broad strokes of the new policy look to be right in line with what’s becoming this president’s trademark approach: accomodating to a political culture drunk (still!) on laissez-faire ideology–officials went out of their way to stress that this sweeping set of reforms contains not a single new regulation–and yet meaningful in its reforms.
The new policy features two key initiatives. The first is the creation of National Ocean Council, which will coordinate and oversee the activities of the staggering list of federal agencies now involved in marine use, conservation and planning. The other, trickier step is the implementation of a new oceanic “zoning” process, designed to manage competing recreational, commercial and other uses of U.S.-controlled waterways. We didn’t have time to pore over the report (easily located with a web search) but one early and promising note leapt out: For once, Hawaii is not lumped in with the West Coast, but is at the center of the Pacific Islands region, one of nine that will form the basis for ocean management under the new system.