Story last updated at 8/26/2009 - 2:10 pm
ANCHORAGE - Members of President Obama's Ocean Policy Task Force have a huge job before them: They must come up with a national policy for managing the country's oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.
Task force members were in Anchorage last Friday to explain their mission to the public, hear their concerns and answer questions. Prior to the public hearing - the first for the task force - they spent much of the week visiting Alaska villages where climate change is being blamed for severe coastal erosion that already has washed some buildings into the sea.
The task force's mission is to form a national policy, establish a framework and come up with a strategy for implementing that policy.
According to a White House memorandum, the national policy "should ensure the protection, maintenance and restoration" of oceans, coastal areas and the Great Lakes ecosystems. It also should enhance the sustainability of oceans and coastal economies while enhancing the ability to respond to climate change. And it must be coordinated with national security and foreign policy interests.
Nancy Sutley, the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, said the task force brings together two dozen senior policy members from numerous agencies. It will take up issues ranging from oil and gas development to recreational fishing to tribes and subsistence, she said.