Biden unveils environmental justice strategy for ocean communities

U.S. President Joe Biden signs a guestbook at the United Nations.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled an environmental justice strategy focused on communities dependent on the ocean or marine resources during the United Nations’ Conference of Parties in December 2023.

The federal strategy outlines overarching goals for advancing environmental justice for communities relying “on the ocean and Great Lakes for economic, cultural, spiritual, recreational, and food security purposes."

“President Biden has made it a priority to address the climate crisis for all Americans,” White House Office of Science and Technology Director Arati Prabhakar said in a press release. “This strategy clearly sets out our values as the climate changes. When we conduct research, collect data, and make decisions about the ocean, we must engage with communities whose lives are intertwined with the ocean and the Great Lakes.”

The plan calls for embedding ocean justice strategies in federal activities; developing a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible federal ocean workforce; and enhancing ocean justice through education, data, and knowledge.

“The ocean is a life source for us all, but because of historic injustices and underinvestment, some communities are hit harder by devastating climate change impacts,” White House Council for Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory said in announcing the strategy. “The Biden-Harris administration’s new Ocean Justice Strategy will help to address historic inequities, improve the well-being of people in communities connected to the ocean, and safeguard a healthy ocean for everyone.”

Several environmental and ocean-focused nonprofit organizations applauded the administration for developing the new strategy.

“The communities most vulnerable to sea level rise, increasingly intense storms, and health effects from port pollution and petrochemical development should not shoulder the burden of the climate crisis,” Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Director for Oceans Brad Sewell said. “This strategy lays out the framework for agency engagement to ensure forward-thinking and equity-based policies on the future of ocean conservation and usage. Ocean justice is not just about what we do, it’s how we do it, and this strategy moves us toward a future where justice is centered.”

Environmental law nonprofit Earthjustice also praised the strategy.

“For the first time, we are seeing the U.S. government acknowledge that we need to center the voices of the coastal communities most impacted by climate change, declining ocean health, and the negative health impacts of industrialization and development,” Earthjustice Legislative Representative Kristin Butler said in a statement. “The Ocean Justice Strategy marks a transition toward prioritizing these voices, which often have been systemically excluded from power and underresourced across U.S. federal governance. But, ocean justice communities, including many of our partners across the country and territories, have been fighting for equity in our oceans for generations. They deserve to see this strategy implemented.”

Photo courtesy of The White House


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500