Sea History 108 - Autumn 2004

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A\ I\ij[ lEmi][ cc A\ I's ]p> (0) lL ][cc y lF (0) llR 1r ]11[ lE (0) cc lE A\ N s by Timothy]. Runyan


he United States government is set to establish a policy on the 2) Identify the section by an entry in the Table of Contents. oceans and inland waters. This significant event will parallel 3) Include in the Recommendations section that maritime culthe establishment of an American policy for outer space. The con- tural resources and historic preservation receive financial support sequences are important to all segments of the maritime commu- for scientifi c investigation, preservation, and public presentation. nity. The US Commission on Ocean Policy was mandated by the The report does not mention the National Maritime Heritage Act, Oceans Act of 2000. Following congressional authorization, the signed into law in 1994. That Act established a grants program for President appointed the sixteen-member commission with Admi- education and preservation. The funding source was profits from ral James D. Watkins, USN (Ret.), as chairman. The Commis- the scrapping of US reserve Heer vessels. Revenues dried up after sion has worked since 2001 to generate a policy document with an initial distribution in 1998 due to environmental restrictions public meetings and site visits by Commission members form- on overseas scrapping. The Commission should support funding ing the outreach effort. The objective was to gather information for the Act as part of its incorporation of maritime cultural reon numerous issues in order to recommend to the President and sources in the Report. Congress a comprehensive national ocean policy. Once this report All persons interested in maritime heritage have a stake in enis submitted, the President is directed by the Oceans Act of 2000 couraging those charged with shaping America's ocean policy to to consult with state and local governments and other non-federal include human involvement with the sea in those policies. Huinterests within 90 days before submitting to Congress his propos- mans have generated the pollurion and exploitive practices that als based on the Commission's recommendations. have endangered maritime species and tapped maritime resources. A Preliminary Report in excess of 450 pages was issued by the Europeans recognized this when they asked historians to track fishCommission in April 2004 with a public comment period provid- ing records and practices in their census studies of marine life. The ed until June 4. The Commission is now consolidating responses global research project History of Marine Animal Populations is by governors and other "stakeholders." If you are just learning the historical component of the Census of Marine Life. Americans about the Oceans Policy Commission for the first time, then you should be equally as savvy in garnering the support and advice of are probably not considered a stakeholder. I have learned that most experts in maritime heritage and cultural resources in formulating people involved in maritime heritage are not stakeholders. This is policies for the oceans and inland waters. an issue, and I will explain why. The report of the Commission The opportunity for formal response to the Preliminary Report is important. It will very likely be the template for oceans policy passed June 4. The Commission is reviewing the comments by for decades. The last congressionally authorized equivalent was the governors and stakeholders to consider amending the document. Stratton Commission which issued its report in 1969. That report Ao important focus will be o n environmental issues since offshore resulted in the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric drilling for gas and oil is a key element in the report. Attention will Administration (NOAA) among other ourcomes. While many also be drawn to coasral geology and marine sciences. Cultural recommissions submit reports that fai l to move the White House or sources are not well represented on the Commission or the science Congress, this was nor the case in 1969 with the Stratton Com- advisory panel. This helps explain why the Preliminary Report fails mission Report, and indications are that this will not be the case to include submerged cultural resources, including ancient sites in 2004. Already the Bush administration has sent an organic Act and shipwrecks, as an ocean resource. The unique nature of these for NOAA ro Congress that clearly establishes a statutory base and sites not only adds significantly to our understanding of the past, goals for this agency. but stimulates underwater research through the advancement of Commission members include a wide range of talented and new technologies in remote sensing, diving, and research methinformed persons led by the chairman, Admiral Watkins, a former odology. Considering that shipwrecks become habitat for marine Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of Energy and founder of the life including corals, fish, and other sea creatures, most submerged Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education. A Sci- cultural sites are also environmental sites. The Report shou ld inence Advisory Panel of26 members was chosen with the assistance clude maritime cultural resources and heritage as a core element. of the National Academy of Sciences. For information about the The US Commission on Ocean Policy has produced an imCommission, its members, and reports, see www.oceancommis- pressive document. My hope is that it will be further modified to For the thousands involved in the oceans from a cultural incorporate maritime cultural resources. What can we do to make or heritage perspective, there is only a limited voice. The focus is this happen? I urge you to stay informed and to express your views on the oceans as a resource, an environment, not as an extension when the Final Report is released and forwarded to the President of human interaction with and on the oceans and inland seas. This and Congress. The Report will require action through numerous concern was brought to the attention of the Commission. bills that will be introduced and budget decisions within the ConThe Nati1onal Maritime Alliance, an umbrella organization gress. 1here will be opportunities, but the driving force for change representing at broad range of maritime societies and organiza- and reallocation of resources will be the Ocean Policy Commistions. has anal~yzed the report and offered recommendations. Key sion or "Watkins Commission" Report. J, among these iss a request that the Report: 1) Include a sttatement recognizing the value of maritime cultural Dr. Timothy J Runyan is Director of the Maritime Studies Program resources as am elemenr of ocean policy in the main body of the at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina and Chairtext as a separaate enumerated section. man ofthe National Maritime Alliance.