The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA), representing the industry scuba diving industry, Tuesday submitted comments on the National Ocean Policy draft Implementation Plan.
As part of President Obama’s National Ocean Policy impacting all US Federal waters and the Great Lakes, the National Ocean Council released this draft Implementation Plan as a means by which the NOC intends to implement nine separate and overarching objectives of the Policy. The comments were submitted by Tom Ingram, DEMA’s Executive Director, who sits on the National Ocean Council’s panel of recreational users, on behalf of the diving industry.
In the submitted comments the dive industry expressed concern that the plan as presented could harm individuals and communities which depend on economic contributions from aquatic-oriented activities and more harm could come to environmental resources if collecting the necessary scientific information is not made the first priority. The plan currently calls for first creating new layers of bureaucracy.
“While noting the administrative buildup, the plan incorporates inadequate congressional oversight,” commented Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA. “There is scant incorporation of coastal, lake and ocean user groups. The plan calls for establishing federal “zoning” boards and regulations which will likely hamper the growth of commercial and recreational interests, while excluding many of these groups from discussion.”
“In addition, the plan itself acknowledges that there are already conflicts with existing federal laws which must be resolved before moving forward. These issues are likely to undo productive legislative efforts of the past and create legislative and bureaucratic conflicts which delay implementation and create additional economic uncertainty.”
Ingram concluded “The dive industry recommends a balanced approach to preserving the health of aquatic resources, and to maintaining the public’s right to access to aquatic and submerged cultural resources. DEMA also advocates the need for having sound, peer-reviewed and unbiased science and economic research prior to implementation of the National Ocean Policy. As the National Ocean Policy was created by Executive Order (13547), we strongly suggest that the Policy and this Implementation Plan should have considerable Congressional oversight.”
The dive industry looks forward to constructively engaging with the present Administration in helping to create a balanced perspective and policy which acknowledges the needs to all user groups as well as the need to protect aquatic resources.
On February 27 the National Ocean Council extended the public comment period on the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan through March 28, 2012.