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GLIN==> New York State's Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act



STATE OF NEW YORK
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER
GEORGE E. PATAKI, GOVERNOR

Press Office
518-474-8418
212-681-4640
http://www.ny.gov 

                                                FOR RELEASE: 
IMMEDIATE, Wednesday, August 9, 2006

                    GOVERNOR SIGNS LEGISLATION CREATING NEW YORK OCEAN
AND GREAT LAKES ECOSYSTEM CONSERVATION COUNCIL
    $3 Million Appropriated to Council to Coordinate State Programs and
Activities to Protect and Restore Coastal Resources

      Governor  George  E.  Pataki today signed legislation to create a
new council  that  will  coordinate  State efforts to protect our ocean
and the Great  Lakes  resources and help to ensure these important
waters are clean and  healthy  for  years to come.  The Governor also
announced a $3 million appropriation for the council.

      "Our  oceans  and  the  Great Lakes play a critical role in our
daily lives,  and we must be vigilant in our efforts to protect and
restore these vital  resources," Governor  Pataki said.  "The council
will help us develop and  implement  effective  strategies to address
the many challenges facing these  waters.   By  focusing  on  a  broad 
range of issues, including the ecology  of  marine  habitats  and  their
 importance  of  these waters for recreation,  fishing  and  various 
industries,  we will be able to promote better stewardship and
management of these valuable waters and ecosystems."

      Senator Owen Johnson, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the
Long Island Marine District and sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said,
"Taking a  comprehensive  approach  to  managing  our  water  resources
is simply a smarter way to preserve these precious natural resources for
generations to come.   New  York's  lakes, bays and oceans are more than
just the gleaming gems  in  the  crown  of  our  State's  environmental 
splendor,  but a key component of our economy on which hundreds of
thousands of New Yorkers rely for good jobs and recreational
opportunities."

      Senator  Carl  Marcellino,  the  Senate Chairman of the
Environmental Conservation  Committee  said, "Fresh water is a natural
resource that must be  protected.  This Council goes a long way to
ensure that the Great Lakes and  ocean will have enough water to protect
their precious ecosystems, and that future generations will have the
water they need."

      Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Tom DiNapoli,
who recently held a public hearing on the health and future of New
York's ocean environment,  said,  "The  health of our shorelines and
oceans not only are essential to the well being of the Long Island
economy but also are a major driving  force  in  the  state's  economy.
The Council we are creating will assuage  those  concerns  by 
coordinating  state  efforts  to preserve the integrity of the ocean's
ecosystem and natural resources for generations to come."

      Under  legislation  proposed by the Governor and passed by the
Senate and  Assembly,  the State will establish the New York Ocean and
Great Lakes Ecosystem  Conservation  Council to coordinate programs and
activities that help to protect and restore the State's coastal
ecosystems.   The nine-member council will work with various
stakeholders to develop policies and  principles  to  govern these
coastal resources and implement effective management strategies.

      The  council  will  be  chaired  by  the  Department of
Environmental Conservation  (DEC)  Commissioner,  with  the deputy
Secretary of State for Coastal  Resources  serving  as  executive
director.  Members will include: the  commissioner  of  the  Department 
of  Agriculture  and  Markets;  the commissioner  of  Economic 
Development;  the commissioner of the Office of General  Services 
(OGS); the DEC commissioner; the Secretary of State; the commissioner 
of  the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP); 
the  commissioner  of the Department of Transportation (DOT); the
president  of  the New York State Energy Research and Development
Authority
(NYSERDA); and the chancellor of the State University of  New York
(SUNY).

      Among the responsibilities of the council are:

-     promoting greater understanding, protection, restoration, and
enhancement of New York's ocean and Great Lakes ecosystems, as well as
sustainable economic development and job creation;

-     developing policies to guide agency programs and activities that
affect our coastal ecosystems, and coordinating agency activities to
integrate ecosystem-based management and build on existing laws and
programs;

-     encouraging scientific research and information sharing that will
help inform and enhance ecosystem-based management decisions and
capabilities;

-     establishing and/or strengthening regional and federal
coordination and partnerships to address complex coastal resource issues
that extend across boundaries;

-     integrating New York's private and public academia, research, and
not-for-profit institutions more effectively in developing and advancing
coastal-based ecosystem management; and

-     ensuring that community needs and aspirations are accommodated.

      The  council  will  deliver  a  report  to  the  Governor  and 
State Legislature  no  later than November 1, 2008.  This report will
demonstrate that  improvements can be accomplished in the eastern Lake
Ontario and Long Island Great South Bay coastal ecosystems; define
executive and legislative actions  necessary  to  integrate 
ecosystem-based management with existing programs;   include   a   plan,
 schedule  and  funding  opportunities  for implementation  of executive
actions; create an ocean and coastal resources atlas;  establish a
research agenda that identifies priority issues in need of  further 
research;  identify opportunities for regional ecosystem-based
management   with  neighboring  states  and  the  federal  government; 
and recommend  actions  to  preserve,  restore,  and  protect submerged
aquatic vegetation populations and meadows.

      DEC  Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said, "New York's ocean and
Great Lakes resources play a tremendous role in our State's ecological
diversity, supply  clean drinking water, provide countless recreational
opportunities, and  contribute  greatly  to our economy.  Efforts to
further protect these assets  are critical.  By creating the Council,
Governor Pataki has enabled the  State  to  continue  to learn about
precious coastal areas and address resource  issues in a more
comprehensive, integrated way for the benefit of New Yorkers, as well as
others around the country."

      Secretary  of  State  Christopher  Jacobs  said, "The Ocean and
Great Lakes  Ecosystem  Conservation  Act  is  landmark  legislation for
New York State.   Governor  Pataki  and  the State Legislature have laid
out a clear vision  for  healthy  communities,  sustainable  and growing
economies, and resilient  ecosystems.   This vision and the principles
embodied in the Act set   an   exciting   course  for  managing  New 
York's  ecosystems  in  a comprehensive and integrated way."

      State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, "New York's
Great Lakes and magnificent ocean waters from Jones Beach to Montauk
provide unparalleled recreational and economic opportunities, and it is
crucial that we work together to protect these resources and ensure that
they will always remain healthy and vibrant.  Governor Pataki has once
again demonstrated his vision and commitment to our future by creating
this Council and we look forward to partnering with other agencies,
local communities and all stakeholders to meet the challenges ahead."

      Leon  E. Panetta and Admiral James D. Watkins, co-chairs of the
Joint Ocean  Commission Initiative, said, "We applaud Governor Pataki
and the New York  State   Legislature  on the establishment of the Ocean
and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation  Council  and  their commitment
to protecting, maintaining,  and  restoring the nation's and New York's
priceless economic and  ecological  assets  -  our  oceans,  coasts, 
and  Great Lakes.  Their leadership and investment should serve as a
model for other states and will greatly   assist   in  the  effort  to 
improve  regional  cooperation  and coordination  with the federal
government as the nation charts a new course
in the management of our oceans, a course that will help lay the
foundation for a new generation of environmental management that
balances the needs of our natural resources and the economy."

      Frances  Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC),  said,"  New York State is embarking on a landmark
process designed to  protect  the  ecological health and economic
viability of our ocean and Great Lake waters.  Governor Pataki and the
New York State Legislature have put  forth  a  new  state  policy  that 
will prove vital to jobs, food and recreation  for the citizens of our
state and to the way of life of coastal communities.   This  new law
provides an excellent model for protecting and restoring  marine
resources that we hope will be replicated in other states across the
nation."

      Adrienne  Esposito,  executive  director,  Citizens  Campaign for
the Environment,  said,  "Nationally  we  have  seen  the health of our
oceans, estuaries  and  Great  Lakes decline.  Locally we have seen the
devastating effects of lobster and hard shell clam die-offs, continuing
beach closings, and the disappearance of important species, such as
winter flounder.  These incidences  are  connected and need to be
addressed in a holistic approach. Our  diverse water bodies are what
make New York one of the greatest states in  the  nation.  Governor 
Pataki is bringing New York to the forefront of Ocean and Great Lake
Policy with this significant legislation."

      David J. Miller, executive director of Audubon New York, said,
"Today is  a  great  day  for  the  Great  Lakes and ocean ecosystems,
and we have Governor  Pataki, Senators Johnson and Marcellino, and
Assemblyman DiNapoli to   thank  for  their  efforts  to  ensure  their 
protection  for  future generations.   Millions  of  State  residents
depend on the ocean and Great Lakes  ecosystems  everyday  for 
agriculture, recreation, and for numerous other uses that are crucial
for the regional economies and quality of life. In  addition,  over  350
 species of birds and many fish and other wildlife species  rely  on 
clean  water  in  the Great Lakes and ocean for nesting, breeding  and 
feeding.   This  Act  will  ensure  that these irreplaceable resources
are sustained for our children and grandchildren."

      New  York  State  is  the second largest coastal state in the
nation, with  more  than  3,200  miles  of  ocean, tidal and Great Lakes
coastline. Approximately  80  percent  of  New  Yorkers live in the
State's 26 coastal counties.

      The  State's coastal areas, rivers, lakes, and estuaries feature
more than  800  public  beaches, parks and recreational sites, and more
than 700 miles  of  scenic byways.  These water resources serve an
essential role in promoting  tourism,  industry,  jobs,  and economic
development, as well as being home to critical ecosystems.

      In  2003-04, the Pew Oceans Commission, of which Governor Pataki
is a member,  and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy each published
significant reports   on  the  conservation  and  restoration  of  our 
nation's  ocean resources.   These  reports  served as the framework for
policy discussions and  recommendations  at  the  October  2005 New York
Ocean and Great Lakes Symposium  in  New York City, convened by Governor
Pataki to help determine policy  actions  that  will  benefit  New 
York's  coastal  environment and economy.   The  symposium  featured 
approximately 150 scientists, resource managers,   and  representatives 
from  local  governments,  industry,  and
community-based organizations.

      Also,  on December 13, 2005, Governor Pataki announced that New
York, seven  other  Great  Lakes  states, and two Canadian provinces
have reached multi-state and   bi-national agreements to improve the
management, protection, and conservation of the Great Lakes and
associated water-dependent natural resources.   Earlier this year,  the
Governor proposed legislation to adopt the provisions of this strategic
plan.

      This new law takes effect immediately.

                                    ###

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