In September 2006 the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health. The Agreement launched a new, proactive regional collaboration to protect and manage the ocean and coastal resources along the entire West Coast, as called for in the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. A draft Action Plan was prepared by October 2007, and the architects of the Agreement requested that CCST prepare a formal commentary on the plan.
CCST offered comments and recommendations focusing on the following eight areas:
- Support for establishment of an Ocean Trust Fund
CCST joined the three states in urging the establishment of a national Ocean Trust Fund as recommended by the US Commission on Ocean Policy, the Pew Ocean Commissions reports and the Joint Ocean Commissions Initiative.
- Broad participation in a West Coast assessment of shoreline changes and impacts
It was recommended that coordination extend beyond the coastal interests to include those in the state and federal arenas who are engaged with our state and national infrastructure planning and land management issues.
- Increased emphasis on importance of habitat characterization and mapping
CCST recommended that the Action Plan address, more directly, an investment in habitat characterization and mapping.
- Need for a core set of indicators and established standards
The plan references ocean health indicators as a priority area and mentions standards with regard to sea floor mapping. CCST urged the three states to take this concept further to expand the identified core indicators and to set clear standards for data collection across many ocean issues before this work is underway.
- CCST led external review of the integrated research plan
Given the expected resources that would eventually be invested in deploying the identified research, CCST proposed, as a neutral party charged by the state of California to serve such a science and technology advisory role, that it be asked, along with its counterparts in Washington and Oregon, to convene an independent review of the research roadmap that is developed.
- Synthesis of reports and development of web toolkit for managers and policy makers
Ocean and coastal stewards will need access to clear and current information to help them make critical decisions on management, acquisition, and mitigation. CCST proposed that the west coast Governors consider developing an effective system to identify and present relevant and current research findings to the practitioners that need readily accessible and usable information.
- Need to enable experimentation in protected areas
CCST recommended that the states develop a streamlined, one stop shop, for required local, state and federal permits to increase the effectiveness of the process, to encourage scientific inquiry in areas of critical need, and to reduce unnecessary costs.
- Need for stable funding for integrated observing infrastructure
CCST recommended that the states create a separate, independently managed, and stable funding source for the development, deployment, and maintenance of infrastructure that links observing subsystems together – not just coordination meetings, but the communication systems themselves; the creation of and maintenance of interoperability between agency and state systems, data fusion from the separate systems, and the creation of common and useful data products.