February 12, 2010
Chairwoman Nancy Sutley
Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force
Dear Chairwoman Sutley and members of the Task Force:
The Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC) applauds the efforts of the Obama Administration to develop a detailed national plan for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP). RDC recognizes this as an important tool to help protect our natural resources in addition to promoting access for responsible development.
RDC is an Alaskan statewide membership-funded organization founded in 1975. Our membership is comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to link these diverse interests together to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.
Alaska, with more coastline than all other states in our nation combined, possesses five of the eleven U.S. large marine ecosystems (LME) but will only be represented by one of the nine regional planning areas, which includes a planning area for the Great Lakes – not an LME. RDC understands that Alaska’s broad diversities, including the Arctic and vast coastlines, and our diverse uses of water and natural resources, will require many critical aspects be assessed.
RDC urges the Oceans Policy Task Force to immediately involve vital stakeholders in the next phase of the CMSP framework on the regional planning body. These stakeholders should include the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), representation from village and Alaska Native leaders, including Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act corporation leaders, and other affiliated state and federal agencies.
Additionally, RDC urges representation from economic stakeholders, not limited to, but including oil and gas leaseholders, coastal communities and boroughs, fishing and fish processing, and transportation users. Economic advisory groups should be utilized to identify economic impacts of uses of the oceans, coasts and river deltas.
RDC also urges the Task Force to clarify the role of existing polices and procedures, such as the NPFMC, as Alaska already adheres to some of the best science-based practices in the world. Adding additional layers and overriding regulation of successful practices will bring no added benefit to address the goals of CMSP.
Lastly, as a non-contiguous state of our Union, activities in Alaska, including travel and access, are significantly more costly. RDC encourages the Task Force to address financial concerns of participation by Alaska-based stakeholders.
In conclusion, RDC supports responsible development and stakeholder involvement in regional planning and looks forward to the next phase. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important issue.
Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc.