With a healthy ocean so important to both the environment and economy of the state, The Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute wants to raise the national profile of coastal issues with the incoming Trump administration.

Its 12th Annual Future of the Ocean Symposium on Dec. 7 will focus on influencing the new administration and Congress to make ocean issues a priority, said UCI Director Tony MacDonald.

The event is free and open to the public.

Environmental issues didn’t play much of a role in the recent presidential election, and coastal and ocean issues were particularly absent from the debate, MacDonald said.

“There is a lot of interest in what Trump is going to be doing. He didn’t lay out a lot about where he stands on environmental issues. That creates nervousness,” said MacDonald.

But it also creates an opportunity to help influence Trump’s priorities, he said.

He’d like to see Trump support the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body's Ocean Plan for coordinating ocean activities and protecting ocean resources from New York to Virginia.

The meeting will be held 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 7 at the Wilson Hall Auditorium at the Long Branch, on the Monmouth County campus.

MacDonald will moderate a panel, including former New Jersey Gov. and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Donald Boesch, a member of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

They will discuss critical actions that the administration and Congress should take to protect the health, productivity and economic sustainability of New Jersey’s ocean and coastal communities, according to the UCI.

Whitman and Boesch serve on the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council, a national organization dedicated to marine policy reform, which has released a nine-point action plan for the Trump administration and the new Congress.

Whitman said in a written statement that a bipartisan approach is needed from policymakers at all levels of government to deal with sea-level rise, changing currents and weather patterns, ocean acidification and ecosystem destruction.

Boesch said federal investments in science and research can spur innovation, address important national and global challenges, create new economic sectors, and ultimately save lives.

Immediately after the symposium, the UCI will hold its Champion of the Ocean Awards Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m., with awards going to Whitman, Boesch and two DEP officials.

Tickets are required for the luncheon. The cost is $150, with proceeds to benefit student research and UCI programs.

For more information or to purchase luncheon tickets, visit monmouth.edu/uci/symposium/ or contact Danica Simmons at 732-263-5662 or dsimmons@monmouth.edu.

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.