Symposium on National Ocean Policy
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Symposium on National Ocean Policy

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    The specific objectives of the symposium were to: • evaluate likely effects of policy reforms on biodiversity preservation, ecosystem health, economic stability, and the cultural fabric of coastal communities; identify issues related to ocean policy reform on which there is broad agreement among diverse constituencies;​provide a collegial venue in which various constituencies can build relationships that will allow them to collaborate over the long-term on solving some of the more vexing management problems in the Gulf of Maine; contribute to public education on the proposed reforms and foster dialogue about marine resource management; provide a mechanism for stakeholders to contribute to the public dialog on marine resource management at this critical point in time; and synthesize information to assist the government with efficient and fair implementation of the policy reforms. There was widespread agreement among participants in the symposium that marine resource policy could be improved. However, there was no consensus on the likelihood that the National Ocean Policy (NOP) will achieve the needed changes. At the time of the symposium, few details were available regarding how the policy would be implemented. Many at the symposium expressed frustration due to a perceived lack of information coming from the federal agencies and a feeling of being locked out of the process. The key to the NOP's success will be for the National Ocean Commission and CMSP Regional Planning Bodies to communicate effectively with stakeholders. The stakeholder community is diverse and geographically dispersed, which makes effective communication difficult. However, there are public and private agencies that are well-equipped to assist the National Ocean Council and CMSP Regional Planning Bodies to reach their constituents. Despite frustrations over the process, there was a great deal of optimism regarding the NOP. This optimism was signified by a spirit of cooperation and collegiality shared among the symposium participants, many of whom represented constituencies that are often at odds with one another. Support from the stakeholder community is essential for the successful implementation of the NOP. Therefore, maintaining the sense of optimism, cooperation, and collegiality among the stakeholders is important. The Symposium on National Ocean Policy was tremendously beneficial in this regard, as it provided an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about recent policy developments, encouraged stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to interact with each other and with staff members from government agencies, and allowed stakeholders to identify entry points into the policy process. It was the first meeting of its kind in the country, and should serve as a model for other regions.
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