Environmental groups celebrate Biden's ocean climate policy progress

U.S. President Joe Biden giving a speech.

A group of 66 environmental organizations have released a progress report celebrating the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to implement ocean-based climate policies.

"The U.S. has made remarkable progress in advancing ocean-based climate solutions, thanks to a tireless network of ocean advocates, committed Congressional leaders, and the Biden Administration,” Ocean Defense Initiative Director Jean Flemma said in a statement. “Nevertheless, the ocean is undergoing significant changes that are threatening coastal economies and ecosystems and further imperiling communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. That's why we developed this report – to celebrate the administration’s progress and identify the highest priority next steps our nation must take to advance equitable and just ocean climate action from coast to coast."

Biden’s signature ocean conservation policy is the “30 by 30” plan, which aims to commit 30 percent of U.S. lands and oceans to conservation by 2030. In March, the president ordered U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to look into establishing a 770,000-square-mile marine sanctuary around the Pacific Remote Islands as part of a new Ocean Climate Action Plan.

The report also praises funding for ocean climate efforts included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“With billions of dollars allocated for ocean-climate action in the IIJA and IRA bills, it’s imperative that the administration take proactive steps to ensure much of these investments go to frontline communities who have suffered disproportionate pollution and climate impacts,” Center for the Blue Economy Director Jason Scorse said.

Other Biden administration ocean-based climate goals include generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, and achieving zero emissions from international shipping by 2050.

“While the administration’s goals are ambitious and its plan comprehensive, much of the work itself is just beginning and more urgent than ever. The ocean becomes hotter and more acidic each passing year,” the groups claim in the “Turning U.S. Ocean Climate Policy Into Action” report.

Commercial fishing groups have voiced opposition to parts of Biden’s Ocean Climate Action Plan, especially banning commercial fishing in conserved areas like the proposed marine sanctuary. Current fishery management policies are effective in maintaining sustainable fisheries, they claim, making commercial fishing bans ineffective.

“If enacted, this [plan] would undermine our nation’s world-class system of fisheries management, harming fishermen and the coastal communities they sustain,” fishing groups told the White House in a 2021 letter.

More recently, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council came out against the proposed marine sanctuary, claiming that the evidence does not support closing the area to commercial fishing.

Photo courtesy of BiksuTong/Shutterstock


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