Admiral James D. Watkins, U.S. Navy (retired), served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. The Commission, authorized by Congress in the Oceans Act of 2000, included 16 members appointed by the President. The Commission’s task was to recommend a new, comprehensive national ocean policy to the Congress and the President in 2003. Prior to his appointment to the Ocean Commission, Admiral Watkins served as president of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI), in Washington, D.C., from September 1993 until October 2000. In September 1994, Admiral Watkins led the historic effort to establish an expanded partnership among the more than 60 U.S. marine institutions. The effort resulted in a public-private corporation known as the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, or CORE. In September 1996, as a result of CORE’s efforts, Congress authorized and funded the National Oceanographic Partnership Act which implemented a new, broad ocean science and technology agenda for the nation. Admiral Watkins served seven years as founding president of CORE, stepping down in March 2001. For his work with JOI and CORE, Admiral Watkins was awarded honorary doctor of science degrees from the College of William and Mary and Oregon State University. In March 2001, he was given the title of President Emeritus of CORE, and was awarded the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award by the Secretary of the Navy for his contributions to the nation in ocean science and technology matters. Prior to his oceanographic work, Admiral Watkins served as the sixth Secretary of Energy under President George H. Bush. He also served as the 22nd Chief of Naval Operations under President Ronald Reagan. Admiral Watkins is a native of California and a 1949 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
Good science and good policy are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of ocean policy. Decisions are made every day with important economic and environmental consequences: How many fish should we catch? Where and how should we extract critical resources from the sea? How can we promote coastal tourism without damaging the very resources people come to enjoy? What kinds of climate change and fluctuations can we expect in the short and long term? None of these questions can be answered without a strong understanding of ocean and coastal processes and a robust observing system to monitor the ocean realm.
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