Mississippi Senator Rodger Wicker introduced the Regional Ocean Partnership Act, July 18, 2019. The Act, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, will authorize Regional Ocean Partnerships (ROPs) to address cross-jurisdictional ocean and coastal issues. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alliance) would welcome a secure and predictable method to accomplish collaborative regional-scale programs.

On June 19, 2018, President Trump issued Executive Order 13840, “Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States.” The Policy is intended to, “engage and collaborate, under existing laws and regulations, with stakeholders, including regional ocean partnerships, to address ocean-related matters that may require interagency or intergovernmental solutions …”

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance exemplifies the description as defined in the President’s Order, “… a regional organization of coastal or Great Lakes States, territories, or possessions voluntarily convened by governors to address cross-jurisdictional ocean matters, or the functional equivalent of such a regional ocean organization designated by the governor or governors of a State or States.”

Supported by co-sponsors from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Senator Wicker’s Act will authorize ROPs as coordinators of Federal and State authorities relating to voluntary efforts for the collaborative management of the large marine ecosystems. It will also enable them to receive federal funding, to conduct cross-jurisdictional scientific research, conservation, and management.

“The Regional Ocean Partnership Act is not intended to duplicate existing programs. Through this means, the Act allows ROPs, like the Alliance, to expand on existing and planned actions that cross programmatic and geographic boundaries in the region,” said Laura Bowie, Alliance Executive Director.  “No other entities serve this role in the Gulf, so this act is important for sustaining existing coordination efforts.”

The Alliance is excited about what this could mean for an expanded coordination and collaboration role within the region.

Go to Congress.gov to follow the progress of S.2166.

Read the President’s Executive Order Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States.