Legislative statements on marine education and training policy are directed only to science, scientific and technical manpower. There is no comprehensive statement of national marine education policy which embraces all national needs, including an informed public. Studies and policy papers are being prepared in cooperation with educators in all regions of the nation with the objective of developing a national statement on marine education adequate to all marine needs.
The title of this paper implies that we do not have a national marine education policy enunciated at an appropriately high level of the Executive Branch. The implication is accurate. We do not have a comprehensive policy, either formal or unwritten. We do, however, have legislative pieces of a policy.
The Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act and the National Sea Grant College and Program Act of 1966 made it a national objective to educate and train marine scientists and other specialist manpower, with the educational mission assigned to the Sea Grant Program.
The legislation also created a Presidential Commission on Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources, which became known as the Stratton Commission. The Commission recommended creation of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as a separate agency. President Nixon preempted the action and created NOAA within the Department of Commerce, and Sea Grant was transferred from the National Science foundation to NOAA.
Some of the Stratton Commission's specific recommendations have been followed, but not the one on manpower. The Commission recommended that NOAA be assigned the responsibility "to help assure that the nation's marine manpower needs are satisfied and to help devise uniform standards for the nomenclature of marine occupations." The Commission also recommended that NOAA, and specifically Sea Grant, "expand its support for ocean engineering and marine technician training at all levels and that it aid selected universities in organizing graduate-level education in the application of the social sciences to marine affairs."
The Sea Grant Program Improvement Act of 1976 placed a somewhat broader educational mission on the Sea Grant Program by stating as an objective for Sea Grant: "providing assistance to promote a strong educational base" and by provision for a Sea Grant fellowship program. The appropriations act which followed made it even sharper by specifically appropriating funds to be used for education over and above what NOM had requested.
The effect of all this legislative background is that the basis exists for a national marine education policy and program if the Executive Branch can be persuaded to pay attention to the will of the Congress and to state an Executive Branch policy. This has not yet happened.
The Stratton Commission had recommended that NOAA set up a manpower office, and the legislation was at least permissive, but NOAA did not do so, nor did NOAA or the Department of Commerce pay any serious attention to the educational component of the Sea Grant Program.