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News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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White House Report Details Ocean Policy Progress

Posted On March 31, 2015 by

Last Friday the White House released a report on the accomplishments of the National Ocean Policy (NOP).  The NOP set forth a vision to ensure our oceans and coasts are healthy and resilient, and implements the recommendations of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to improve federal coordination and effectiveness in managing our ocean resources.

“The accomplishments of the National Ocean Policy reflect the tremendous momentum we’ve seen from the Administration to address the most pressing issues facing our ocean and coastal communities,” said Ocean Conservancy’s Director of Ocean Planning Anne Merwin.  “Businesses as diverse as shipping and maritime, commercial fishing, recreation, and conservation groups have all expressed their strong support for smart management of our ocean, because of the real, practical, and local benefits they are seeing thanks to this important work.”

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Diverse Stakeholders Deliver Unified Message to Congress and Administration: Smart Ocean Planning Makes Sense

Posted On March 27, 2015 by

Stakeholders meet with Representative Kuster of New Hampshire (center)

Last month, 42 stakeholders from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic came to DC to speak with Congress and the Administration about the benefits they are seeing from the regional ocean planning efforts currently underway in these regions.  Representatives from commercial fishing, offshore renewable energy, ports and maritime, shipping, undersea cables, recreational fishing and boating,  as well as research, education and conservation organizations, and more came together to deliver a common message – smart ocean planning makes sense.

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New Data on Coastal Recreation Along the Atlantic to Help Guide Planning

Posted On September 6, 2014 by

The Surfrider Foundation, in partnership with Point 97, The Nature Conservancy and Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute, has published the results of a recreational use study conducted along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Almost 1,500 completed surveys were collected, which provided insight on where and how people spend their time along the Mid-Atlantic coast. This information, which is represented by the above image, shows just how extensively the region’s coastlines are used by surfers, hikers, swimmers, and other beachgoers, and these activities are not only a common pastime for many Mid-Atlantic residents, but also generate significant economic benefits for coastal communities and the region.

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Celebrating Capitol Hill Ocean Week with a Commitment to Finalized Plans and a New National Ocean Council Director

Posted On June 10, 2014 by

Here in Washington, DC we are celebrating Capitol Hill Ocean Week  just on the heels of World Oceans Day.  As part of the celebration, White House Counselor John Podesta made two key announcements in his opening keynote address. First, an exciting official confirmation that smart ocean plans will be finished by 2016 in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic – spanning the ocean from Maine to Virginia. This important work by the Regional Planning Bodies is a landmark that will help coastal communities and businesses thrive.

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To Make Ocean Planning Effective, We Need Regional Coordination

Posted On March 12, 2014 by

Photo: Jupiter Unlimited

Earlier, I wrote about coastal and marine spatial planning and the tools necessary to effectively implement it. Today though, I wanted to discuss the regions and industries that are already putting these ideas to good use.

At the state level, Washington, Massachusetts, Oregon and Rhode Island have already created comprehensive ocean plans, and several other states—such as New York and several states along the Gulf of Mexico—are starting to do the same thing. This is a great start, but the ocean does not obey state lines. As a result, regional partnerships are essential in facilitating coordination between federal, state, tribal and local entities.

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For Ocean Planning to Work, Decision-Makers Must Engage Stakeholders

Posted On March 10, 2014 by

Advocates for smart ocean planning from around the country at our D.C. office before meeting with members of Congress

Last week, I wrote about how coastal and marine spatial planning (“smart ocean planning”) is an essential tool for making smart choices about the future of our ocean. In order to make those smart choices though, smart ocean planning requires gathering and sharing sound data to promote informed, science-based decision-making. Accurate data on all of the ways the ocean is used must be collected and compared. Decision-makers need as much data as possible to identify where conflicts exist and where they might emerge.

To accomplish this goal, state-based Regional Ocean Partnerships are coordinating the collection of these data and making them available to the public. In the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and West Coast regions, Regional Ocean Partnerships have already begun this process by creating “data portals”. These interactive, Web-based portals allow any user — from the general public to agency decision-makers —to compare maps of artificial reefs, recreational boating spots, whale migration paths, offshore renewable energy lease areas, commercial shipping routes and more.

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Ocean Planning Makes Sense

Posted On November 7, 2013 by

Two men fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

Photo: Tom McCann / Ocean Conservancy

The piece below was excerpted from an article by Rip Cunningham on the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) Blog. Cunningham is the former chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council. He is also Conservation Editor for Saltwater Sportsman magazine, of which he was publisher and editor-in-chief for 31 years. 

While the piece expresses concern about some aspects of ocean-use planning, it makes a formidable case for the need to engage in it. Ocean Conservancy believes that smart ocean planning is important for balancing all of the interests in our ocean, so we welcome this kind of discussion.

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I know that some in the recreational fishing industry think that “ocean planning” is part of the great conspiracy to totally eliminate extractive activities like recreational or commercial fishing. They feel that this process is simply “ocean zoning” intent on removing fishing.

Maybe it is and I am just too naive to see it, but there are too many signs pointing in other directions. First, I don’t believe in the great conspiracy theory, and secondly, I think that doing some real planning makes a whole lot of sense, and I understand that in that process there will be winners and losers.

The best description, in my opinion, of how ocean planning should work is found on Sea Plan’s, an independent ocean planning policy group, website: “Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) aims to distribute and accommodate both traditional and emerging ocean activities to produce sustainable economic and social benefits while minimizing spatial conflicts and environmental impacts. CMSP is an iterative process that uses the best available science along with stakeholder input to support integrated, adaptable and forward-looking ocean management decision-making.”

The part of the process that I find objectionable is the building of more bureaucracy to complete this task. There are already agencies at the federal, regional and state level that deal with these issues. Do we need several layers of bureaucracy just to get these organizations to play in the sandbox together?

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