U.S. embraces marine spatial planning

President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2012, announced on Monday, includes requests for Gulf Coast restoration, a 33 percent budget increase for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a USD 50 million budget decrease for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The FDA’s requested USD 4.3 billion budget will go toward enacting four critical initiatives, including USD 324 million for transforming food safety and nutrition. The FDA, which is responsible for protecting the U.S. food supply, will begin to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and empower Americans to make healthier food choices through labeling. The administration will establish a prevention-focused food-safety system and leverage the valuable work of FDA’s state and local food-safety partners.

Obama is requesting a USD 5.5 billion budget for NOAA, which includes key investments to strengthen NOAA’s most critical programs and initiatives while addressing the administration’s goals of ensuring long-term economic growth, promoting innovation and American competitiveness and reducing government spending. NOAA is responsible for managing U.S. fisheries.

Praised by numerous conservation groups, Obama also maintained his commitment to Gulf Coast restoration be recommending the first-ever funding to construct wetlands projects to reverse wetlands losses in the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) of the Mississippi River Delta. The budget proposes USD 27 million to revive vital coastal resources and benefit the nation’s economy, including USD 10.8 million for wetlands feasibility studies, USD 5.4 million for wetlands pre-construction engineering and design studies, USD 10.6 million for wetlands constructions projects and USD 100,000 for the LCA comprehensive plan.

“The BP oil disaster shined a spotlight on the national economic importance of restoring the disappearing Louisiana Coastal Area ecosystem, and President Obama’s budget request recognizes this fact,” said a joint statement from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation. “We are rapidly losing this ecosystem, which supports wildlife, recreation, waterfowl hunting, critical energy production infrastructure, the busiest port in North America, and the most valuable fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. In the face of tough budget choices, the President’s budget recognizes that we cannot wait any longer to restore this critical natural and economic resource, and we urge Congress to meet this challenge.”

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