Will help state engage in national debate on federal oceans policy work
December 18, 2004
"As the nation's premier ocean state, Alaska has much to gain in the national ocean policy debate as well as much to lose. I intend to be an active player in that debate and will make sure Alaska's voice is heard by Congress and the president in regard to oceans and fisheries issues," Murkowski said.
Murkowski took this action on the same day that President Bush signed an executive order creating a cabinet-level Committee on National Ocean Policy. President Bush will also make recommendations to Congress on future oceans legislation based on the work of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report that was submitted in September.
Both the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report, entitled "An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century," and the Pew Commission report have brought the issue of new federal ocean policy to the forefront.
In addition to commercial and sport fisheries, changes in federal ocean policy will impact Alaskan issues such as subsistence, tourism, environmental protection, the economy of local communities, coastal zone management and marine transportation.
The Murkowski administration has been generally supportive of the U.S. Commission's recommendations but has concerns with the Pew Commission report, particularly the recommendation for a centralized oceans management in Washington, D.C.
"We envision a national oceans policy that acknowledges the jurisdictions of the states and is responsive to the varying characteristics and needs of the states. But we can't just sit back and hope that that is the final outcome," Murkowski said.
The Alaska Ocean Policy Coordinator will assist the governor and the Ocean Policy Cabinet in responding to federal ocean initiatives and maintaining a dialogue with Alaskans on ocean policy. The coordinator is not a policy position, but will take direction from the Alaska Ocean Policy Cabinet. The coordinator will be based in the state Department of Fish and Game.
The state's Ocean Policy Cabinet includes the governor and the commissioners from the state departments of Fish and Game; Environmental Conservation; Natural Resources; Commerce, Community and Economic Development as well as the Alaska director of state and federal relations.
The coordinator will work with state agencies, academic and research institutions, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations in Alaska. The coordinator will organize and communicate information from various sources to federal and local government entities and to these NGO's in Alaska.
This new coordinator will also be a timely addition to the Murkowski administration since next year is also expected to bring reauthorization of the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which is vital to the health of Alaska's fisheries.
"We expect national fisheries issues to be a frequent subject for national debate and it is important that Alaska has both the information and the resources to engage and prevail in that debate," Murkowski said.
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