President Trump issues memo on ocean mapping, including Alaska’s coastlines

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) President Donald Trump issued a memo requesting a national strategy for ocean mapping including large sections along Alaska. Trump's memo mentions the importance of ocean and coastal mapping to economic development.

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

This memo builds off one by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 establishing the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. This was in order to advance development of ocean resources and protect marine environments.

Trump set a deadline for government agencies to develop a strategic plan within 180 days from the release of the memo.

Coastal Mapping Strategist for the State of Alaska, Marta Kumle said the announcement of the memo makes her hopeful and that she believes the deadline will keep things moving forward. "That will get the gears moving towards a very solid and concrete answer and it also opens doorways for other agencies and authorities to get involved and I hope it will bring more players to the table," said Kumle.

The Alaska Congressional Delegation applauded the memo referencing the importance of the ocean and coastlines to the lives of many Alaskans.

Statement from Senator Lisa Murkowski: “This is an important step for Alaska, especially for the Arctic as we are woefully behind in developing up-to-date maps for the region…The Arctic is crucial to our nation’s geopolitical, economic, and environmental well-being. Alaskans know this better than perhaps anyone else. Our waters are home to an abundant variety of untapped natural resources that can be used for food, medicine, and energy. Only a small part of the Arctic has been charted to modern standards, hindering the safety of maritime operations in the region. This Presidential directive builds on my own efforts to secure strong funding for NOAA's hydrographic surveys to address the backlog of charting needs in the Arctic. Mapping the waters around our state will provide valuable information on critical minerals and coastal resources while supporting safer shipping in the Arctic.”

Statement from Senator Dan Sullivan: “As Alaskans, we depend on our oceans to provide for our families and drive our economy…Ensuring that the maps of both our state’s and nation’s waters are contemporary is vital to ensuring our economic growth and national security. The provisions outlined in this order will serve to bolster our understanding of our oceans and coastlines, and I commend the President for prioritizing this issue.”

Statement from Congressman Don Young: “Ensuring our oceans are thoroughly mapped is one of the most important things we can do to protect our economy and the maritime careers that depend on safe, navigable waters…This order is once again proof that President Trump and his administration are strong partners for the State of Alaska. As the Arctic’s significance to our global economy continues to grow, a better understanding of our oceans will be crucial. I will continue working with the Alaska Delegation and the Administration to ensure that Alaska is well-equipped for the years ahead.”

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