Managing the Ocean Resources of the United States: The Role of the Federal Marine Sanctuaries Program



In 1969, the Straton Commission report provided a plan for the systematic development of a national policy on marine affairs. In subsequent years no such systematic approach to a coherent marine policy was undertaken. The de facto policy approach of the 1970s was a plethora of individual legislative acts which provided specific de jure rules, but which left administrators the complex problems of working out the administration of areas of overlapping authority, with conflicting or inconsistent goals and jurisdiction. The major acts of the 1970s, the Fishery Conservation a n d Management Act of 1976; Mammals and Non-Migratory Birds—The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972; Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972; Endangered Species Act of 1973; Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972; and others, are clear indications of a national commitment to regulation of the markets for the output from the ocean sector. But while the need for intervention in markets was clear to legislators, the failure to employ a systematic approach and provide guidelines adequate to permit the rationalization of complex problems doomed the piecemeal approach to ocean policy to ever increasing administrative problems and ultimately to ineffective government programs.