Olympic Coast in Washington
J Meyer
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council meets in Seattle to discuss stewardship of ocean resources.

Ocean policy experts from around the nation convened at the University of Washington on January 27 to talk about the future of oceans. Members of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council met with West Coast leaders at the College of the Environment’s Center for Urban Horticulture. Hosted by the College and Dean Lisa Graumlich, the discussion focused on new ways to strengthen the maritime economy and environmental health along the West Coast, including Washington.

The UW was chosen as the official West Coast site for this event, know as the Regional Ocean Leadership Roundtable. Other roundtables have taken place in Fairbanks, Barrow, and New York. The Commission will take what they learn and use it to create a new Ocean Action Agenda that drives ocean policy discussions and reforms at national, regional, state, and local levels.

“We are thrilled to have the Leadership Council here in Seattle,” Dean Graumlich said. “I have no doubt that these conversations will stoke the innovative spirit that characterizes the West, and provide a foundation for tangible, positive steps forward in how we interact with our seascapes. This will not only help in our region, but at the national level too.”

The Leadership Council consists of influential experts from government, business, academia, science, and the non-profit worlds. Several have connections to the University of Washington, including Bill Ruckelshaus, a College of the Environment Advisory Board Member and first administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The West Coast and the Pacific Ocean are experiencing both rapid and massive changes in the ocean environment. From ocean acidification to shifts in the shipping industry, the changes along the West Coast are important topics for discussion because of the profound impact they are having on the communities that rely on the Pacific for their economic livelihood and quality of life,” Ruckelshaus said. “This meeting is important to better identify what works and what doesn’t and bring it to bear on the national policy conversation.”

In 2003 and 2004, the Pew Ocean Commission and the U.S. Ocean Commission on Ocean Policy released their recommendations for improving stewardship to safeguard our oceans. Acknowledging the immense role oceans play in the health and economy of our nation, their reports highlight the need for a new era of ocean governance, namely where the oceans are managed wholly as opposed to piecemeal. After each Commission released their reports, they dissolved and the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative was created to continue championing ocean policy reform in the United States. That effort continues today.