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Ocean and Coastal Law

This semester, and this week in particular, has been a fantastic time to be at VLS if your heart, like mine, lies with the oceans.

This past Friday VLS held an Ocean Law Conference.  More than ten distinguished ocean scholars, including scientists, policy analysts, attorneys, professors, and various directors all came to VLS to discuss coastal and  marine spatial planning.  The conference covered a wide range of topics including: offshore energy development, Rhode Islands’ comprehensive ocean mapping, Massachusetts’ Oceans Act, Alaska’s many and diverse large marine ecosystems, tribal uses of the oceans, and the role of different federal agencies.  I learned more than I could have imagined and got to hear some really fantastic thoughts and ideas.  Many people came and went throughout the day, but I stayed for the entire eight hours of talks and panels, and it was well worth it.

The National Ocean Council, created by Executive Order last year, is seeking public comments on the nine priority objectives laid out in the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes.  Two professors here at VLS, one of which is my marine environment professor, are looking to write and submit a public comment letter to the National Ocean Council.  I, along with at least five other students and these two professors, will be working on this over the next three weeks.  Despite my great interest in the oceans, I feel very limited in my knowledge, so this task–if done well–seems quite daunting. Nonetheless, I am very excited for this opportunity.

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