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Friday, January 29, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on Ocean and Coastal Resources

Eugene H. Buck, Coordinator
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Congress may consider proposals to alter the relationship between environmental protection and sustainable resource management and development as a result of increased use of coastal and marine resources. Of particular interest are threats to marine water quality, pollutants posing risks to human health and safety, stress from continued growth and development of coastal areas, the contribution of offshore energy resources to U.S. energy security, habitat destruction and overharvesting of living marine resources, and climate change. The combination of more information about ocean and coastal resource issues, new recommendations on how they might be addressed, and the need to consider reauthorizing expired laws means that Congress is likely to give substantial attention to this issue area.

Two reports issued in 2004—one by the Pew Oceans Commission and the other by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy—noted declines in marine resources and shortcomings in the fragmented and limited approaches to resource protection and management in federal and state waters. Both reports called for bold responses from Congress and the Administration. Congress may consider whether to (1) provide additional funding for ocean and coastal resource management; (2) replace a fragmented administrative structure for ocean management with a more coherent federal organization; (3) reauthorize certain existing ocean and coastal laws; (4) adopt new approaches for managing marine resources, and (5) conduct oversight of estuarine management and protection programs, implementation of fishery reforms, and expanded OCS activities to foster energy independence.

Date of Report: January 21, 2010
Number of Pages: 4
Order Number: IS40356
Price: $7.95

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