Traditional navigational routes for ferries and other passenger vessels must be recognized and protected. That was the Passenger Vessel Association’s message delivered this summer to President Obama’s Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy.
PVA told the Interagency Task Force, “Ferry routes and other traditional navigational lanes are located where they are for a reason. These are the most economical and safest routes by which a vessel can reach its destination. They cannot be arbitrarily moved for someone else’s convenience or whim. As governments begin to implement ‘marine spatial planning’ (or ocean zoning), it is essential to be aware of the needs of the maritime industry, especially ferry operators, to preserve and protect their routes and traditional navigational lanes. The passenger vessel industry and its ferry operators must not be considered an afterthought, inconvenience, or obstacle when someone proposes a new and conflicting use for waters traditionally used for navigation.”
In June, President Obama ordered an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force consisting of representatives of about two dozen federal departments to provide him with recommendations for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of America’s oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes. Among the charges to the Task Force is to make suggestions about possible “coastal and marine spatial planning” (that is, zoning of uses in the ocean) in six months.
The Interagency Task Force is to build on two voluminous ocean policies reports prepared several years ago; one by a governmental commission; one by a non-governmental entity. It is unclear what impact (if any) the Interagency Task Force’s recommendations will have, but PVA viewed its work as an opportunity to express concerns to federal policymakers.
"The oceans, our coasts, and the Great Lakes provide jobs, food, energy resources, ecological services, recreation, and tourism opportunities, and play critical roles in our Nation’s transportation, economy, and trade, as well as the global mobility of our Armed Forces and the maintenance of international peace and security," President Obama wrote in his memorandum establishing the Interagency Task Force. "We have a stewardship responsibility to maintain healthy, resilient, and sustainable oceans, coasts and Great Lakes resources for the benefit of this and future generations."
In July, the Council on Environmental Quality convened informal meetings of various ocean user groups during which they could elaborate on their recommendations to the Interagency Task Force. Jen Wilk and Ed Welch of the PVA staff represented the organization at two separate meetings. The web page of the Interagency Task Force can be viewed at: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/oceans/