Sustaining the Economic Benefits of the Oceans
Future generations deserve
to inherit healthy, bountiful oceans.
"Seventy-one percent of
our planet is ocean, and seventy-one percent of our body is salt
water. . . . There is this extraordinary connection between who
we are as human beings and what happens in this magnificent body
of water. "
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
Build the world's most technologically
advanced, safe, secure, efficient, effective, accessible, globally
competitive, dynamic, and environmentally responsible system
for moving goods and people.
Our marine transportation systemwhich
consists of waterways, ports and their intermodal connections,
vessels, vehicles, and system userssupports our economy
and national security
through dependable all-weather transportation for the movement
of goods and people. It is the most flexible, most costeffective,
and safest mode of domestic and international freight transportation,
providing competitive access to suppliers and markets in an increasingly
global economy. It enables the swift mobilization and supply
of America's military, both
through military assets and through the sealift and logistical
support provided by the private commercial U.S. flag merchant
fleet. And it also provides recreational value to millions of
boaters, fishermen, and cruise passengers.
By 2010, U. S. foreign trade
in goods is projected to more than double today 's value, reaching
$5 trillion in constant dollars, with the volume of foreign trade
cargo increasing by more than 30%to 1. 7 billion metric tons.
This rise in marine trade is expected to fuel demand for increasingly
flexible and less expensive marine transportation services. This
demand, as well as increases in recreational use, high-speed
ferry transportation, cruise ship traffic, commercial fishing,
and expanded U. S. military needs for force projection and supply,
will strain the marine transportation system 's services and
infrastructure. However, the ability of today 's system to handle
tomorrow 's emerging needs is severely challenged.
In response to a Congressional
mandate, the Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration, the Army
Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
the Environmental Protection Agency, and nine other federal agencies
collaborated with stakeholders to assess the marine transportation
system and present their findings in a report to Congress. The
report of the Marine Transportation System ask Force addresses
several concerns and recommendations to be implemented by the
combined efforts of the private, local, state, and federal sectors.
Highlights of the report are presented here.
- Many federal agencies, state
and local governments, port authorities, private industries,
and labor groups share responsibilities for managing safety,
security, and environmental protection, making coordinated responses
to challenges and opportunities very difficult to achieve.
- Innovative U.S. financing,
regulatory changes, and tax mechanisms may be needed over the
long run to spur the substantial public and private capital investments
needed to meet growing demands.
- The marine transportation
system infrastructure and supportive information systems may
be stretched to their limits to cope with projected increases
in both the system's users and the size, speed, and diversity
- Growth in vessel traffic will
increase risks to sensitive ocean, coastal, and inland environments.
- Facilitate coordination among
all stakeholders by establishing a federal Interagency Committee
for the Marine Transportation System, a nonfederal Marine Transportation
System National Advisory Council, as well as regional and local
- Explore funding strategies
that coordinate public funding processes and maximize the effectiveness
of public and private investments.
- Improve competitiveness and
safety by establishing infrastructure and information systems
that streamline vessel inspection, reporting and port clearance
procedures, and that improve the marine transportation system
- Create a national cooperative
marine transportation system research program.
- Achieve environmental protection
and safety through improving local coordination, ballast water
management, and design and system management of dredged channels.
- Establish supporting information
management and infrastructure in: hydrographic and weather information;
tracking cargo, passengers, and vessels; and waterways traffic
- Meet national security objectives
by balancing commercial demands with safeguards and inspections
to protect against security threats and support military mobilization.
For more information