08/16/2012 12:13 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2012

Ocean Leaders to Obama & Romney: Support the Red, White but Also the Blue

In a letter delivered to their campaigns on Aug. 14, sixty leaders in exploration, conservation, science and business -- including members of the Cousteau family, ocean leaders from Google, the dive industry, National Geographic, the National Aquarium and Coastal States Organization have called on presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of protecting America's coasts and oceans. In the letter they ask them to commit to four broad action areas.

In the international arena these include supporting global initiatives and agreements to restore fish and wildlife, reduce pollution, establish marine wilderness parks and encourage scientific collaboration.

Domestically it calls for an ocean policy to coordinate the work of federal agencies and regional efforts now underway to assure healthy seas and sound planning for our public waters. It also calls for adequate funding of frontline agencies involved in marine stewardship, exploration and law-enforcement including the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The full letter can be found below or online:

Call to President Barack Obama & Governor Mitt Romney to Protect the Ocean!

As citizens involved with our seas we call on and expect the next President of the United States to support our nation's ocean based economy and assure the sound stewardship of our coasts and ocean. Our nation's Exclusive Economic Zone, stretching 200 miles out from our shores, is the largest in the world, a blue frontier more extensive than our continental landmass. With increased scientific knowledge and understanding of this, our nation's second great frontier, comes both an opportunity and a responsibility to restore the blue in our red, white and blue.

Recognizing that the protection of coastal communities and ocean-dependent jobs, the marine environment and America's maritime heritage has long been a bipartisan goal, we ask that the two leading candidates for President of the United States in 2012 - President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney - and their parties and campaign organizations - commit to the following broad principles and actions:

I. In the International Arena

• Support initiatives to protect our global commons on the high seas and the polar seas through agreements to restore fish and other marine wildlife, reduce marine pollution, encourage scientific collaboration and protect vital habitats including seamounts, coral reefs and coastal mangroves.

• Based on the work of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush who established the highest level of protection for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument of Hawaii, support similar global efforts now underway to create a network of large wilderness parks in the sea like the United States' unique system of National Parks and National Seashores that can act as a world repository of marine biodiversity for our and future generations.

II. In the United States

• Implement a national ocean policy that will coordinate federal efforts to eliminate agency conflicts and redundancy while working with traditional and emerging users of our public seas. This policy should also embrace local, state and regional solutions to ensure healthy and productive seas while addressing emerging challenges including protecting coastal populations at risk, providing resources to our emerging blue water coastline in the Arctic and addressing the impacts of sea-level rise and ocean acidification.

• Recognizing that our EEZ frontier waters and our national economy depend on healthy seas, new discoveries and maritime enforcement, the next President should commit to fully fund the marine stewardship, exploration and law-enforcement missions carried out by the frontline agencies on America's blue frontier including the United States Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We believe a commitment to these four action areas by the next President of the United States will help turn the tide in restoring a vital element of the American economy and our national and natural heritage from sea to shining sea.

We look forward to your response

With regards and respect,

Jesse Ausubel Director, Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University
James N. Barnes Executive Director, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition
Dana Beach Executive Director, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League
Wendy Benchley Co-Founder, Peter Benchley Ocean Awards
Jeff Benoit President, Restore America's Estuaries
Graham Casden Founder, Ocean First Divers
Celine Cousteau Executive Director, CauseCentric Productions
Fabien Cousteau Founder/Executive Director, Plant A Fish
Jean-Michel Cousteau President and Chairman, Ocean Futures Society
Philippe Cousteau President, EarthEcho International
John C. Cruden President, Environmental Law Institute
Bob Davidson President and CEO, Seattle Aquarium
Alex Earl Executive Director, Project AWARE
Sylvia Earle National Geographic Explorer in Residence
Kristen Fletcher Executive Director, Coastal States Organization
Jenifer Austin Foulkes Manager, Google's Oceans Program
John Frawley President & CEO, The Bay Institute/ Aquarium of the Bay
Vicki Nichols Goldstein Executive Director, Colorado Ocean Coalition
Randy Hayes Executive Director, Foundation Earth
David Helvarg Executive Director, Blue Frontier Campaign
Debbie Kinder CEO, Blue Ocean Film Festival
Dean C. Klevan, President and CEO, The International Seakeepers Society
Wayne Levin Fine Art Photographer
Shaun MacGillivray Managing Director, One World One Ocean
David McGuire Executive Director, Sea Stewards
Jim Moriarty CEO, Surfrider Foundation
Rob Moir PhD Director, Ocean River Institute
Bill Mott Director, The Ocean Project
Ralph Nader Consumer Advocate
Wallace J. Nichols PhD Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences
Dr. Michael K. Orbach Professor of Marine Affairs and Policy, Duke University Marine Laboratory
Prof. Chris Palmer Director, Center for Environmental Filmmaking, American University
Dr. Steven Palumbi Director, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University
Mark D. Perry Executive Director, Florida Oceanographic Society
Steven Daniel Pingaro CEO, Sailors for the Sea
Shari Sant Plummer President, Code Blue Foundation
Louie Psihoyos Executive Director, Oceanic Preservation Society
Dr. Nancy Rabalais Professor, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
John Racanelli CEO, The National Aquarium
Joshua Reichert Managing Director, Pew Environment Group
Drew Richardson President and Chief Operating Officer, PADI Worldwide
Jeremy Rifkin President, Foundation on Economic Trends
Daniella Russo Executive Director, Plastic Pollution Coalition
Carl Safina Founding President, Blue Ocean Institute
Cynthia Sarthou Executive Director, Gulf Restoration Network
Jerry R. Schubel, PhD President & CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific
Jason Scorse, Ph.D. Director, Center for the Blue Economy, Monterey Institute of International Studies
Andrew Sharpless CEO, Oceana
Mark Shelley Executive Director, Sea Studios Foundation
Brian Skerry Underwater Photojournalist
Mark J. Spalding President, The Ocean Foundation
Daniel T. Stetson President and CEO, The Ocean Institute
Dave Toole Executive Director, DigitalOcean
Jim Toomey Creator, Sherman's Lagoon, syndicated daily comic strip
Don Walsh, PhD Explorer and Oceanographer
David Wilmot, Ph.D. Co-Founder and President, Ocean Champions
Wyland Marine Life Artist
Marc Yaggi Executive Director, Waterkeeper Alliance
Cindy Zipf Executive Director, Clean Ocean Action