The Blue New Deal  

There has been a great deal of discussion of the Green New Deal but there is little about the ocean in it.  Part of the reason why the ocean has not been factored in is that we don’t know much about what lies beneath the surface.  A Blue New Deal would need to help unlock the mysteries of the deep that will be the foundation of both healthy oceans that are free of plastic and full of life, and ensure the sustainable use of ocean resources for food and clean energy, etc.  We can’t be a green planet, without caring for the blue!

by RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.), President and CEO,  Consortium for Ocean Leadership

This blog was originally published on April 1, 2019

I just heard from a longtime friend on the Hill that “soon” Congress will introduce a “Blue New Deal” in both chambers with support from the President and all ocean agencies. Congress and the Administration are joining forces to create a strategic, cost-loaded plan that will address ocean science and technology needs nationwide, bringing together federal agencies with their partners in academia, industry, state and local government, and NGOs to work on key common goals. I’m pleased that our nation’s leaders are taking these critical next steps to protect our ocean’s future and that they’re setting such an ambitious timeline — they plan to see these goals realized by the end of 2020.

Some highlights of the legislation will include:

  • Increased funding for ocean and coastal observing systems, with the ultimate goal of a fully integrated national ocean observing framework generating uninterrupted, 24/7 data.
  • Establishment of a unified (virtually or physically), secure ocean data portal and repository, which will make data from all ocean observations more widely accessible and understandable to scientists, decisionmakers, educators, and the public.
  • Federal support for K-12 ocean science courses and extracurricular activities that will expose more students (regardless of where they live) to ocean science and increase ocean literacy.
  • Creation of FISH ROE (Finding Integrated Solutions to Habitat Resiliency and the Ocean Economy), a revolutionary incubator connecting researchers and practitioners in traditional and new ocean industries with biologists and ecologists specializing in coastal and ocean ecosystems.
  • Introduction of the BAIT (Broad Aquaculture Innovative Testbed) project to build an environmentally responsible, integrated, multitrophic aquaculture system, rapidly moving transdisciplinary, cutting-edge aquaculture research into practice.
  • Initiatives at the national, regional, state, and local levels to create or update coastal infrastructure based on local sea level rise projections.
  • Pilot programs across the nation addressing fisheries health concerns with innovative management strategies tailored to regional and ocean-wide needs.
  • Several new programs dealing with marine debris and ocean plastic pollution, including research into collection technologies and new standards for waste-water management, such as microplastic catch filters. Included will be an initiative to dramatically increase the number of recycling centers nationwide and create a clear path to move more recycled materials into manufactured products.
  • A rejuvenation of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) to convene, plan, and manage the necessary interagency and public-private partnership programs to rapidly advance the above and many other sustainable initiatives toward an ocean that is well managed and prosperous, meeting the needs of humanity and all other life on our planet.

There’s just one hurdle thing that must be considered in all of this …

APRIL FOOLS!

While there are certainly good intentions by many of our ocean champions, no such grand, sweeping effort exists (at least, not now). I think we would all love to see such an ambitious commitment to securing the health and future of our ocean, our nation, and the world we influence. I fear if we don’t, future generations may look at us as the real fools.

This blog first appeared in the President’s Corner of the Consortium For Ocean Leadership on April 1, 2019.  It’s reprinted here with Admiral White’s permission.  We wish it were true too!  But it’s a great vision for a Blue New Deal.  

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