by Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Staff and Ed Lallo/Gulf Seafood News Editor
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council is holding roundtable discussions focused on the Arctic, East, West, and Gulf Coasts, and has invited two Gulf Seafood Institute members to have a seat at its Gulf roundtable being held in New Orleans.
GSI’s Board President Harlon Pearce, owner on Harlon’s LA Fish in the Crescent City, and Jim Gossen, Chairman of Sysco Louisiana Seafood, will join other thought-leaders at the invitation-only roundtable discussion on Gulf Coast regional ocean and coastal priorities being held on May 5th at the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel.
“I’m excited to join this important roundtable discussion,” said Gossen, Vice President of GSI. “Management of our coasts and oceans are more important than ever. The Gulf of Mexico, and other coastal waters, are resources providing food security for our growing population. Serious thought and planning is essential to protect these renewable resources.”
As part of a strategy to develop a set of recommendations to improve the management of oceans and coasts, the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative is convening a series of regional ocean leadership roundtables bringing together leaders from various sectors to identify regional approaches to major ocean challenges, generate creative solutions, and inspire state and local leadership.
The Council will be co-chaired by former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency William Ruckelshaus, the current Strategic Director of the Madrona Venture Group; and Norman Mineta, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mineta & Associates and the former Secretary of Transportation and Commerce.
The Gulf of Mexico is a region of critical economic, environmental, and cultural importance. From its leading role in securing our nation’s energy supply to its active recreation and tourism industry along the coast, the Gulf annually supplies trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy and provides jobs for millions of citizens. Additionally, the Gulf of Mexico marine ecosystem is bountiful, providing habitats to many species throughout the region.
The discussions at the Gulf Roundtable will address how to ensure the health and productivity of the ocean and coastal areas and will focus on the following themes:
- The ocean and coastal economy: discussing the management and support for important Gulf economic activities, such as tourism, shipbuilding, and port activities, in a way that allows for economic development and addresses environmental priorities.
- Oil and gas development: planning for the needs, uses, and governance of the offshore oil and gas industry in an era of low oil prices.
- Environmental restoration: discussing the impact of environmental degradation on communities and ecosystems along the Gulf Coast and the role of restoration in improving the management of important ecological resources.
- Mitigation and resilience: discussing the impact of environmental threats and changes on the ecosystem and economic activities. Sea level rise, ocean acidification, and agricultural runoff are just some of the issues that will require improved management practices to prepare for the future.
The issues associated with these themes represent ocean and coastal challenges facing the Gulf of Mexico. Participants will be invited to discuss how to:
- Strengthen political leadership to support policy actions.
- Improve research and data collection to inform management decisions and creative solutions.
- Ensure adequate infrastructure that has the capacity to meet future needs.
The roundtable is sponsored by the Meridian Institute, a a not-for-profit organization with offices in Colorado and Washington, DC. whose professionals help people engaged in society’s toughest issues to solve problems and make informed decisions.
“The Gulf of Mexico is being faced with a changing economy, new restoration opportunities, and increased resilience needs,” said Pearce. “Gulf communities, states, and industries are also facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities. This discussion will bring together a diverse set of key stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to discuss how to advance solutions and actions at the local, state, regional, and national levels.”
More than 20 internationally recognized individuals will join Pearce and Gossen, including:
- Margaret Leinen – Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences and Dean, School of Marine Sciences, University of California.
- Julie Packard – Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Leon Panetta – Co-founder, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy; and former White House Chief of Staff and Chair of the Pew Oceans Commission.
Following the Gulf Roundtable, the Joint Initiative will leverage its extensive network to amplify messages to our nation’s leaders and elevate key policy and action priorities shared by diverse stakeholders. The actions identified through this roundtable and others will shape an Ocean Action Agenda that the Joint Initiative will deliver to the new administration and other national, regional, and state leaders who take office after the 2016 elections.