Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation

Congress on Ocean Policy

December 6, 2018
National Union Building
918 F St NW
Washington, DC

Program  Location   DELEGATE AFFILIATIONS   Program Committee

Click here to download the congress report.

wavesOceans are being affected by the chemical and physical impacts of climate change, unsustainable pressures on sealife populations, unprecedented destruction of marine habitats, and life-threatening pollution from land- and sea-based activities (nutrients, agricultural chemicals, plastics and petroleum, among others). These increasing pressures are disrupting ocean health, productivity, and resilience.

Speakers for the 2018 Congress on Ocean Policy are a diverse group of scientists, managers, and professionals who understand the challenges of current ocean management. They presented policy tools and strategies to foster the sustainability of our oceans. Delegate invitations were extended to representatives of state, federal and international agencies, professional and scientific NGOs, the private sector, academia, and congressional offices and committees.

Following is a list of critical ocean policy issues:

● adverse impacts of climate change and intensified exploitation of ocean resources amplify the need for all nations to embrace the international governance framework of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention;

● impacts of ocean acidification and rising temperatures on the health and function of marine life and ecosystems;

● collaborative policies and programs to reduce ocean-damaging land-based pollution;

● vulnerability of marine mammals to ocean development, commercial shipping and fishing, naval exercises, and acoustic disturbances;

● how local, state, and federal entities can more effectively manage marine resources by collaboration through use of regional ocean plans;

● offshore wind energy development effects, stakeholder engagement, and environmental considerations;

● offshore petroleum exploration and exploitation impacts; and

● potential deep-sea mineral exploration and exploitation impacts.


Ronce Almond
The Wicks Group
Tommy Beaudreau
First Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Donald Boesch
University of Maryland
Center for Environmental Science
Scott Doney
University of Virginia

Jason Gedamke
Bonnie Ram
University of Delaware
Betsy Nicholson

Cindy Van Dover
Duke University


8:15 am – 8:35 am
Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:35 am – 8:40 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

Donald Boesch
Chair, RNRF Congress Program Committee
Professor of Marine Science
Former President (1990 to 2017)
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Cambridge, MD

8:40 am – 9:10 am
The U.S. and the UN Law of the Sea Convention
How does UNCLOS reflect current U.S. policy and how does the U.S. currently engage in international maritime policy? What challenges prevent U.S. from signing UNCLOS and what institutional changes need to occur to do so?

Ronce Almond
The Wicks Group
Washington, DC

PowerPoint Slides

9:10 am – 9:30 am
Questions and Discussion

9:30 am – 10:00 am
Ocean Acidification and Rising Ocean Temperatures
What is the relationship between ocean acidification and rising temperatures and how do those phenomena affect sealife? How does ocean pollution exacerbate these environmental stressors and increase the susceptibility of marine organisms to disease and habitat disruptions? What is the future of U.S. marine ecosystems based on model predictions? What federal, state, and local action needs to occur to preserve and protect oceans?

Scott Doney
Joe D. and Helen J. Kington Professor in Environmental Change
Environmental Sciences Department
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

PowerPoint Slides

10:00 am – 10:20 am
Questions and Discussion

10:20 am – 10:35 am

10:35 am – 11:05 am
Land-Based Marine Pollution
What are the biggest contributors to nonpoint source pollution and marine debris? How does this pollution impact marine ecosystems? What policies are currently reducing these impacts and how can they be duplicated or expanded?

Donald Boesch
Professor of Marine Science
Former President (1990 to 2017)
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Cambridge, MD

PowerPoint Slides

11:05 am – 11:25 am
Questions and Discussion

11:25 am – 11:55 am
Ocean Noise and Marine Life
What current strategies are being used to prevent acoustic damage to marine mammals and other sea life? What policy or technological changes can be implemented to protect marine mammals from collisions and acoustic disturbances?

Jason Gedamke
Ocean Acoustics Program
NOAA Fisheries Office of Science & Technology
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Silver Spring, MD

PowerPoint Slides

11:55 am – 12:15 pm
Questions and Discussion

12:15 pm – 1:00 pm
Lunch (provided)

1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Regional Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
What are the merits, methods, and barriers to developing a successful regional ocean plan? How can planners use political opportunities to position a region to effectively respond to real changes in how ocean space and resources are managed? 

Betsy Nicholson
North Regional Director
NOAA Office for Coastal Management
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Gloucester, MA

PowerPoint Slides

1:30 pm – 1:50 pm
Questions and Discussion

1:50 pm – 2:20 pm
Offshore Wind Energy
A brief history and prospects for wind energy in the U.S. and lessons from the EU market. What are the potential effects and benefits from this new low-carbon energy source? What may be the concerns of decision makers and stakeholders regarding potential risks to the marine environment?

Bonnie Ram
Interim Director, Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives
College of Earth, Ocean and Environment
University of Delaware
Newark, DE

PowerPoint Slides

2:20 pm – 2:40 pm
Questions and Discussion

2:40 pm – 2:55 pm

2:55 pm – 3:25 pm
Offshore Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation
An insider's recollections of managing the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill, and serving as the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Tommy Beaudreau
First Director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (2011-2014)
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington, DC

3:25 pm – 3:45 pm
Questions and Discussion

3:45 pm – 4:05 pm
Deep-Sea Mineral Exploration and Exploitation
What is currently known about this emerging industry? What are the potential consequences of seafloor exploration? What policies should be put in place now to protect marine ecosystems and reduce negative impacts?

Cindy Van Dover
Harvey W. Smith Professor of Biological Oceanography
Marine Science & Conservation Division
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University
Beaufort, NC

PowerPoint Slides

4:05 pm – 4:25 pm
Questions and Discussion

4:25 pm

Robert Day
Executive Director




The RNRF Congress on Ocean Policy was held at the National Union Building at 918 F St NW in Washington, DC. The building was constructed in 1890 as the headquarters of the National Union Fire Insurance Company. It later served as the first headquarters of the USDA Forest Service. The National Union Building is a five-minute walk from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Station on Metro's Red Line.

Delegate Affiliations

Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, US Geological Survey
American Fisheries Society
American Geosciences Institute
American Society of Civil Engineers
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives
Congressional Research Service
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Delaware Department of Resources and Environmental Control
Duke University, Nicholas School for the Environment
Ecological Society of America
EU Delegation to the U.S.
Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Geological Society of America
George Mason University
Joint Ocean Commission Initiative
American Society of Landscape Architects
Latham & Watkins, LLP
Meridian Institute
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Ocean Conservancy
Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations
Pew Charitable Trusts
Renewable Natural Resources Foundation
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
University of Delaware, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
University of Maryland, Geographical Sciences Department
University of Oxford
University of Virginia
The Wicks Group, LLC

 Congress Program Committee

Donald Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science


Tom Chase, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Director of Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers
Robert Day
, RNRF Executive Director
John E. Durrant, RNRF Vice-Chairman; Sr. Managing Director, Engineering & Lifelong Learning, American Society of Civil Engineers
Richard Engberg, RNRF Chairman; American Water Resources Association
Sarah Gerould, RNRF Board Member; Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Paul Higgins, RNRF Board Member; Director, Policy Program, American Meteorological Society
Lu Gay Lanier
, RNRF Board Member; American Society of Landscape Architects Fund
Raj Pandya
RNRF Board Member; Program Director, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union
Howard Rosen
, RNRF Board Member; Public Interest Member
Nancy C. Somerville, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; Executive Vice President, American Society of Landscape Architects, and President, American Society of Landscape Architects Fund
Barry Starke, RNRF Board Member; Public Interest Member
Kasey White, RNRF Board Member; Director of Geoscience Policy, Geological Society of America

RNRF Staff Liaisons:
Attiya Sayyed, Former Program Manager
Amber Todoroff
Program Manager
Stephen Yaeger, Program Associate

Special Thanks:
Tom Bigford, Former Policy Director, American Fisheries Society, and former chief of Habitat Protection Division, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Jeffrey L. Payne, Director, Office for Coastal Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Introduction    Program   Location  Registration Program Committee