The Blog Aquatic » coastal and marine spatial planning http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Effective Ocean Planning Needs to Be Coast-to-Coast, Not Beach-to-Beach http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/14/effective-ocean-planning-needs-to-be-coast-to-coast-not-beach-to-beach/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/14/effective-ocean-planning-needs-to-be-coast-to-coast-not-beach-to-beach/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:00:34 +0000 Jayni Rasmussen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7800

Over the last week, I’ve been discussing what coastal and marine spatial planning (“smart ocean planning”) is, what we would need to do to make smart ocean planning work, and what regions of our country have already started the process of making smart ocean planning a reality. In this last installment of our video series, I want to discuss the National Ocean Policy and what’s happening in the United States at the federal level.

Smart ocean planning is a bottom-up process, but it still needs federal support. Coastal states and the federal government each have jurisdiction over their own individual portions of the ocean, and the rules as you move across jurisdictions can both vary greatly and conflict with each other. Because of this, increasing coordination between state governments, the federal government and the stakeholders using the ocean is essential. Without a collaborative process that brings all the relevant players to the table, our decision-making will be disjointed and ineffective in ensuring a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren.

The National Ocean Policy is the Obama administration’s attempt to foster as much coordination between the states, the federal government and stakeholders as possible. It provides a coordinating blueprint that takes into account all the moving pieces, and a support network through the National Ocean Council. States already work both independently and together on a voluntary basis, but collaboration with federal authorities, who have jurisdiction over many of the uses that occur in the ocean, is necessary to make the best management decisions. Regional planning bodies, now forming as part of the implementation of the National Ocean Policy, provide a venue for this coordinated planning.

For more information on what progress is being made on the national level, check out this short interview with Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, senior advisor to Ocean Conservancy:

If you can’t watch the video on this page, click here.

Read more blogs from this series:

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A Crowded Ocean Needs a Coordinated Plan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/07/a-crowded-ocean-needs-a-coordinated-plan/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/07/a-crowded-ocean-needs-a-coordinated-plan/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 21:28:03 +0000 Jayni Rasmussen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7682

Photo: Nick Harris via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, we wrote about how Congress’ 2014 budget compromise eliminated grant funding for Regional Ocean Partnerships. Following the release of the president’s budget earlier this week, we thought we’d revisit the issue of ocean-use planning and discuss why Congress should reinstate funding.

Everyone knows the ocean is a big place, but it sure is getting crowded these days. Commercial and recreational fishermen who have lived off the sea for generations are now competing with offshore wind farms that are getting so large they can be seen from space. Whales that have made a comeback from near extinction are once again threatened by increasing deadly interactions with large ships that cross into the whales’ migratory paths. If we aren’t careful, there will be a traffic jam off our coasts and a lot of unnecessary conflict.

Coastal and marine spatial planning, or ”smart ocean planning”, is a tool that brings all of those users together so that everyone can have a say in making smart, ecosystem-based management decisions. Smart ocean planning identifies areas in the ocean most suitable for various types or classes of activities in order to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses and preserve critical ecosystem services.

The beauty of such a process is that an increase in coordinated ocean management decisions between state and local governments and stakeholders also leads to increased ocean health today and for future generations.

In the coming days, we’ll be explaining more of what goes into smart ocean planning and what we’ll need to make it succeed. For now though, watch this short interview with Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, a marine biologist and senior advisor to Ocean Conservancy, for more information on the basics of ocean planning.

If you’re unable to see the video, you can go here to watch it.

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Ocean Planning Makes Sense http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/07/ocean-planning-makes-sense/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/11/07/ocean-planning-makes-sense/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 21:49:49 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6937 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?

In any case, here in New England, we have the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), which appears to be a regional version of the National Ocean Council (NOC). However, it was organized by the Northeast governors about five years prior to NOC, which was established under an executive order from President Obama and likely the genesis of the anti-ocean planning movement.

Many feel that this was merely an end run around the failed legislation called Oceans 21. Again, maybe it was, but that does not negate the need for some real thinking about how we use our ocean. Things such as renewable energy development, at-sea LNG terminals, pipeline construction, ocean mining, etc. are going to happen. In comparison to those industries, fishing doesn’t stand a chance. We would be road kill on the developmental highway without some controlling structure.

While I don’t happen to believe that it is enough, fishing does have some representation at the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) level. This is through a representative from the New England Fishery Management Council sitting at the RPB table. Yes, fishing is just one voice among many, but without any representation, there would be no chance.

Recently, a coalition of marine interests including SeaPlan, representatives of the boating industry, New England states and the state of New York, U.S. Coast Guard and NROC conducted a survey titled Northeast Recreational Boating Survey. This effort was designed to get stakeholder input on how boaters use the Northeast waters. It was a very comprehensive survey that got input from 12,000 participants.

The survey shows the importance of boaters who generated $3.5 billion in economic activity. A much older survey conducted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) indicated that 75 percent of all powerboats were used for fishing at some point. I don’t know if that holds true today, but it indicates fishing is still a substantial part of this economic engine. The take home message is that NROC is concerned about the recreational fishing industry and how it fits into the planning process.

I am also aware of efforts that are being taken to reach out to individual anglers to get their input into the process. These are being developed as this is written. NROC also has made an effort to include the party/charter fishing industry as well. If they had no interest in the fishing industry, I doubt they would make this level of effort to include stakeholder input.

While there are and will continue to be concerns about the whole coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) area, the idea that this is simply an underhanded plan to end all fishing just doesn’t carry any water (pun intended). As users we need to be involved with this type of planning and we need to try to make sure that our access to marine resources is not compromised.

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Ocean-Use Planning Moves Forward In Mid-Atlantic As Anniversary of Sandy Approaches http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/24/ocean-use-planning-moves-forward-in-mid-atlantic-as-anniversary-of-sandy-approaches/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/24/ocean-use-planning-moves-forward-in-mid-atlantic-as-anniversary-of-sandy-approaches/#comments Tue, 24 Sep 2013 19:50:23 +0000 Christine Hopper http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6682

As the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, we are all reminded of the importance of being prepared. This is true for our ocean as well, and the Mid-Atlantic region is moving forward with marine planning efforts to do just that. The first meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body is taking place this week, on Sept. 24-25 at Monmouth University in New Jersey.

During this inaugural meeting, “marine planning” is a phrase that’s likely to come up often. Marine planning creates a blueprint for our ocean and shorelines that provides a comprehensive picture of marine uses and activities within a region. With an ever-increasing amount of ocean users looking for places to operate, coastal communities are seeing their most precious resource threatened by ocean sprawl.

This meeting will serve as an opportunity for citizens including wind developers, fishermen, recreational boaters and conservationists to join state, federal and tribal officials from across the region to start discussing the creation of a plan for the ocean and coasts in the region that encompasses a five state area, from New York to Virginia.

Now is the time for any stakeholders that care about what happens in this region to step up and get engaged. By coordinating with these different parties to create the best plan for all, the regional planning body can create a clear, public blueprint to ensure that the area’s marine resources and services are best used, while minimizing user conflict and maintaining long-term ecological health.

New England led the way by holding its first regional marine planning meeting last fall.  There, citizens were able to voice their opinions and concerns while making recommendations for balancing the multiple uses of the region’s ocean waters. Richard Nelson, the captain of the Maine lobster fishing vessel Pescadero, said “It seems to be a worthwhile process. I’d like to see more fishermen here and more opportunities for them to be engaged.”

The Mid-Atlantic is the second region to move forward with ocean planning through this inaugural meeting. On the agenda is determining a five-year timeline for regional ocean planning, including an approach, process and timeline for public and stakeholder engagement.

Almost a year after the Mid-Atlantic was hit with the second-costliest hurricane in United States history, many residents still working to rebuild are looking toward this week’s meeting with an eye of optimism. As professional mariner Captain William Broadley from the Delaware Bay region put it, “The plans we are making now will affect how our coastal areas will be used for generations to come.” This meeting is just the first step in a process that will strengthen natural coastal defenses, protect resources, promote job growth and continue the post-Sandy restoration efforts.

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North America’s First Floating Wind Turbine Raises Need for Smart Ocean Planning http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/07/north-americas-first-floating-wind-turbine-raises-need-for-smart-ocean-planning/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/07/north-americas-first-floating-wind-turbine-raises-need-for-smart-ocean-planning/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 20:00:43 +0000 Susan Olcott http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6487 VolturnUS turbine

Photo: Susan Olcott / Ocean Conservancy

When I first saw the VolturnUS, North America’s first floating wind turbine, it was smaller than I had imagined. But once I realized it was just a 1/8 scale model, I knew the potential implications for this new technology were huge.

Developed by the University of Maine’s DeepCWind Consortium, the launch of VolturnUS could mark the beginning of a new industry in Maine. “This project is a first-of-its-kind design to help develop more cost-effective offshore wind technologies,” says Habib Dagher of the DeepCWind Consortium.

Making this happen will be complicated both financially and technologically, but the real question is: How do you decide where to put these turbines?

Back in 2008, the state established an Ocean Energy Task Force to identify ways in which the ocean energy industry could be jumpstarted to provide for cleaner energy sources and local jobs. The task force also wanted to help establish Maine as a leader in the ocean energy arena.

One of the task force’s recommendations was the identification of up to five sites along the coast that would be appropriate for testing ocean energy devices. More than 50 meetings and less than a year later, the agencies involved designated three test sites in Maine’s coastal waters. This was a lot of work to decide what to do with an area less than 5 square nautical miles, which is relatively small compared to the coast of New England.

Collecting data and gathering stakeholder input about ecological and human uses along the entire New England coast is the heady task recently begun by the Northeast Regional Planning Body, an intergovernmental council created by the National Ocean Policy.

The idea of regional ocean planning is to put siting exercises like Maine’s into context by making them part of a region-wide set of publicly accessible information that can be used to inform decisions about what happens where off our coasts, including where to potentially put new uses like renewable energy.

This will mean that ocean businesses won’t have to reinvent the wheel by collecting data and information that are already out there. It will also help us to make the best decisions possible for the long-term ecological and economic health of our coasts.

“Proactive planning can ensure that conflicts with current users are minimized,” says Paul Williamson of the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative. “Planning will also provide market stability and certainty, reducing risks associated with ocean energy projects and encouraging the massive investment that such projects will require.”

Another goal of regional planning is to coordinate the agencies involved in project permitting so that it is clear to those interested in developing new uses how to proceed.

We need a clear map not only of the resources and uses out there, but also of what needs to happen to get a project in the water. This is something that regional planning can help to address.

The Northeast Regional Planning Body is currently reviewing feedback on their draft planning goals to provide a framework for how they are going to tackle this herculean task. Their next meeting will be this fall.

Meanwhile, new maritime technologies will continue to develop, and we would be wise to create a plan designed to help guide them and to be adaptable for whatever might come next.

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Video: America’s Ocean Economy: Challenges and Opportunities http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/24/video-americas-ocean-economy-challenges-and-opportunities/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/24/video-americas-ocean-economy-challenges-and-opportunities/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 18:53:04 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5876

This is a guest blog post from Jennifer McCann, Director of U.S. Coastal Programs at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Coastal Resources Center and Director of Extension Programs for Rhode Island Sea Grant.

In Rhode Island and beyond, coastal communities are working on plans to manage the ocean’s resources in ways that generate new industries, support job creation, and provide food and services to an ever-increasing population.

This film is the first in a series that explores this effort with ocean practitioners from around the world and provides an overview of economic issues related to ocean planning. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share the remaining three films in the series, which focus on offshore renewable energy, fisheries and the environment.

The film series is supported by several funders and partners, including The URI Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, Ocean Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Marine Affairs Research and Education (MARE), the team behind OpenChannels.org. Media firm Zygote Digital Films Inc. developed the series.

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Want to restore ocean ecosystems? Involve people making a living from the sea. http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/29/want-to-restore-ocean-ecosystems-involve-people-making-a-living-from-the-sea/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/29/want-to-restore-ocean-ecosystems-involve-people-making-a-living-from-the-sea/#comments Tue, 29 Jan 2013 21:54:22 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4434

photo by Richard Nelson

This is a guest post from Richard Nelson, a lobsterman from Friendship, Maine

With a background as a lobsterman in the small midcoast town of Friendship, ME, I decided a couple of years ago to follow and become involved in those aspects of the National Ocean Policy that affect me as both a fisherman and concerned individual.

The goals of the planning, as set forth by the National Ocean Council, are to find ways to support sustainable ocean uses that contribute to the economy, while at the same time protecting, maintaining and restoring the ocean ecosystems. This would involve creating a regional plan to reduce conflicts among fishing, offshore energy, shipping conservation and recreation.

I am hopeful that this process will involve a group made up of oceanographers, fishermen, conservation groups, tugboat operators and others with either a tradition of, or aspirations toward, ocean use.  The input of the federal officials, state planners and agency heads as well as the tribal representatives that are all official members of the regional planning bodies is certainly important, but it is critical that some form of direct participation is extended to those whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, such as me. Given that regional planning has the backing of most of the major conservation groups, the scientific community, ocean renewable energy and other industries, all seeking to start the process off in a somewhat similar direction, now is the perfect time and place to shape the format of the ocean planning process. We need to directly include stakeholders and make sure that they have a real seat at the table, rather than engaging in the old model of top-down management which would, in my mind, lead to a future of second guessing, protestations and eventually an “occupy oceans” mentality.

As we begin this process let us take advantage of the opportunity to start ocean planning off right. This is the point at which you might ask, “Well what do you suggest?”

Instead of the “How would I know? I’m a fisherman” route, allow me to ask for the help and guidance of those out there whose thoughts are more in tune with governance and the political sciences, that they may come to our aid with suggestions for alternative structures. There have been methods suggested, such as stakeholder advisory groups, which could be used to invite traditional ocean users to the table, bringing their knowledge and experience to bear.  They could then be included in the initial establishing of a vision and setting of goals, not just sought out after plans are drawn, to be queried as to, “Can you live with that?” I am hopeful that workable methods can be found to engage stakeholders in successful Regional Ocean planning.

As an “impacted stakeholder” and almost daily “ocean user” I fully support the National Ocean Policy and most of its many important directives, including the implementation of Regional Ocean planning. This process seems to offer a better alternative than single agency, case-by-case decision making. It has a regional goal in mind, a vision for the future of our oceans that should be a shared endeavor of fishermen, scientists, planners and business alike.

In that sense, I would like to look up at the table and see a few faces that I can imagine seeing out on the water someday.

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