Statement by the President: Oceans Act of 2000 (8/7/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                    (Martha?s Vineyard, Massachusetts)

For Immediate Release                            August 7, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today, I am pleased to approve S. 2327, the "Oceans Act of 2000."
This legislation would establish a "Commission on Ocean Policy," to make
recommendations to the President and the Congress for a coordinated and
comprehensive national ocean policy.

     The United States is an ocean nation.  Our ocean territory of over 4
million square miles is the largest and richest in the world.  Over thirty
years have passed since the Stratton Commission conducted a comprehensive
examination of our Nation's ocean and coastal resources.  The work of that
Commission led to many significant achievements in the early 1970s,
including enactment of major legislation to protect the oceans and coastal
areas and creation of the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration.  It is appropriate, especially in the wake of
the many recent scientific and technological advancements and pressures
facing the oceans and our coasts, to re-examine our Nation's relationship
to the sea.

     My Administration has undertaken several initiatives that will support
the work of the Commission.  In 1998, I, along with Vice President Gore and
the First Lady, participated in the first-ever National Ocean Conference,
which was attended by over 500 individuals representing all sectors of the
ocean community, from government to industry, science to conservation.  At
that conference, I called on the Congress to create an oceans commission to
help forge a new strategy to preserve the incomparable natural resources of
our oceans and seas.  The Vice President and I launched a series of new
steps to restore coral reefs, rebuild marine fisheries, preserve freedom of
the seas, and further explore the ocean.  My Administration's Oceans Report
Task Force is currently implementing several initiatives related to ocean
exploration, coral reef protection,
safe navigation, environmentally sound and economically viable aquaculture,
improved fisheries enforcement, and the establish-
ment of an international observation network to better understand the role
of oceans in climate.  The Task Force will be beneficial to the Commission
as it begins its important work next year.

     My Administration's Coral Reef Task Force has produced a National
Action Plan to protect our Nation's precious corals and, earlier this year,
I directed Federal agencies to establish an integrated national system of
Marine Protected Areas.  Most recently, I announced an Ocean Exploration
initiative to develop a national ocean exploration strategy and work toward
solving some of the mysteries of the ocean through the development of new
technologies and newly discovered organisms with medical and commercial

     In approving this measure, I note that section 4(a) states that the
President "shall submit to Congress a statement of proposals to implement
or respond to the Commission's recommendations" concerning a national ocean
policy, which
may include recommendations for changes to Federal law.  The
Recommendations Clause of the Constitution provides that the President
"shall from time to time . . . recommend to [the Congress'] Consideration
such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient," U.S. Const. Art.
II, ? 3.  That Clause protects the President's authority to formulate and
present his own recommendations, which includes the power to decline to
offer any recommendation.  Accordingly, to avoid any infringement on the
President's constitutionally protected policy-making prerogatives, I
construe section 4(a) not to extend to the submission of proposals or
responses that the President finds it unnecessary or inexpedient to

     I am disappointed that S. 2327 restricts the President's appointment
of 12 of the 16 members of the Commission to nominees of the leadership of
the Senate and House of Representatives.   Additionally, I believe the
Commission should focus on domestic, non-military, ocean, and coastal

     I congratulate the congressional supporters of this legislation,
especially Senator Hollings.  I am pleased that there is a renewed national
interest in the ocean, including a growing sense of the opportunities to
utilize marine and coastal resources, and a sense of stewardship to manage
these resources in a sustainable manner.  As I have said before, I consider
preservation of our living oceans to be a sacred legacy for all time to
come.  S. 2327 will enhance our understanding of the ocean and contribute
to shaping U.S. ocean policy.

                                   WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    August 7, 2000.

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