OCEANS 2012’s theme, Harnessing the Power of the Ocean, has as its foundation a conceptual National Ocean Enterprise and its seven societal benefits as identified by the National Ocean Partnership Program’s legislation in 1999, followed by President’s Bush’s Ocean Action Plan and President Obama’s Ocean Science  Policy. They are:

•     Improving predictions of climate change and weather and their effects on coastal communities and the nation 

•     Improving the safety and efficiency of marine operations

•     Mitigating the effects of natural hazards

•     Improving national and homeland security 

•     Reducing public health risks 

•     Protecting and restoring healthy coastal marine ecosystems and enabling the sustained use of marine resources

Each of these 7 benefits will be key focus areas for each of the technical threads that will be run at the conference. A key and underlying tenet for all activities (papers, town halls, key note speeches) will be this fundamental question: what will it take to achieve such an enterprise?

The conference will highlight the National Ocean Policy of the United States, which is to:

•     Protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources 

•     Improve the resiliency of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems, communities, and economies

•     Bolster the conservation and sustainable uses of land in ways that will improve the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems

•     Use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes, and enhance humanity’s capacity to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment

•     Support sustainable, safe, secure, and productive access to, and uses of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes

•     Respect and preserve our Nation’s maritime heritage, including our social, cultural, recreational, and historical values

•     Exercise rights and jurisdiction and perform duties in accordance with applicable international law, including respect for and preservation of navigational rights and freedoms, which are essential for the global economy and international peace and security

•     Increase scientific understanding of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems as part of the global interconnected systems of air, land, ice, and water, including their relationships to humans and their activities

•     Improve our understanding and awareness of changing environmental conditions, trends, and their causes, and of human activities taking place in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters

•     Foster a public understanding of the value of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes to build a foundation for improved stewardship

By addressing the above with its technical threads, OCEANS 2012 hopes to review, discuss and debate what it would take to achieve a National Ocean Enterprise built upon an effective and integrated ocean information foundation that would allow our citizenry to gain and harness Ocean knowledge in the spirit of the President’s policy.

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