U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Report

On 20 April 2004, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (“Commission”) released its Preliminary Draft of the Final Report (“Report”), with the Commissions’ preliminary findings and recommendations for a new, coordinated, and comprehensive national ocean policy, as mandated by the Oceans Act of 2000.  Comments on the Report should be submitted to the Commission by 21 May 2004.  The Report identifies several issues addressed in the Commission’s recommendations, and focuses on three fundamental themes: (1) creating a new ocean policy framework to improve decision-making; (2) strengthening science and generating high-quality accessible information to inform decision makers; and (3) enhancing ocean education to instil future leaders and informed citizens with a stewardship ethic.

Chapter 16 of the Report deals with limiting vessel pollution and improving vessel safety.  The Commission’s recommendations on these matters include: (1) encouragement, by the U.S. Coast Guard, of vessel management to develop stronger environmental, safety and security measures and to reward crew member contributions; (2) working with other countries at the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) to enhance flag state oversight and enforcement; (3) working with other countries to establish mechanisms to strengthen and harmonize port state control programmes under the auspices of the IMO; (4) investigation and development by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of incentive-based measures for voluntary reductions in vessel air emissions; and (5) ratification of MARPOL Annex VI and working for adoption by the IMO of stricter air emissions standards.  The Report also indicates that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard should continue to assess issues related to the phase-out of single-hull vessels, specifically addressing the capacity to meet U.S. demand for double-hull vessels and the recent amendments to MARPOL, which accelerate international phase-out schedules for single-hull tankers.  With respect to ballast water, Chapter 17 of the Report focuses on preventing the spread of invasive species generally by the establishment and enforcement of domestic and international ballast water management standards.

Once the public comment period on the Report closes on 21 May 2004, the Commission will review the comments and prepare its final report and recommendations to the U.S. President and Congress.  The full text of the Report can be viewed here 

Contact: Dragos Rauta