Lead, Follow, or Be Lefi Behind: The Case for Comprehensive Ocean Policy and Planning for Florida

Oceans are rich with opportunity for coastal communities. Whether those opportunities are commercial or recreational, realizable today or preserved for generations to come, the sea holds assets which must be protected. This Article discusses the need for comprehensive ocean
policy in the state With more exposure to the sea than any other in the contiguous United States: Florida. By discussing the historical development of the federal government’s coastal management and ocean policy, the Article highlights and compares modern measures with
traditional single-sector solutions. Explaining the relationship between state and federal government action provides a background for why states must take the lead in protecting the ocean’s precious resources. The Article explains several state ocean management programs to provide the reader with a base to compare Florida’s ocean policy efforts. Outlining the challenges that Florida faces in the use of its waters—such as offshore oil and gas development, alternative energy development, and the effects of climate change—the Author argues that now is the time to implement policies to preserve the sea’s natural resources. The Article then discusses the results of current national ocean policy planning, the essence of which is that states may work together regionally and only voluntarily. Finally, the Author concludes that a comprehensive state policy on the ocean and coastal marine spatial planning is essential to Florida. Because there are many interests involved, Florida needs a clear Vision with which it may govern its oceans. By taking the lead in its own waters, Florida could influence the plans and priorities of national ocean policy.