Ocean Currents » marine spatial planning http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 24 Aug 2016 18:22:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 3 Ways Ocean Planning and Offshore Wind Are Working Together http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/11/3-ways-ocean-planning-and-offshore-wind-are-working-together/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/12/11/3-ways-ocean-planning-and-offshore-wind-are-working-together/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2015 14:30:28 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11215

Right now, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is soliciting comments from the public on “aspects of BOEM’s renewable energy program that stakeholders have found to be successful, and those program areas where there appear to be opportunities for improvement.” Click here to sign a letter that Ocean Conservancy is submitting to BOEM requesting them to make ocean planning a fundamental part of the way BOEM plans offshore.

Bringing together relevant data and information through a scientific and stakeholder driven process has proven beneficial for the offshore wind industry. Through the ocean planning process, the offshore wind industry is given the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders from conservation, fishing, to recreation, shipping and more to produce mutually beneficial results for all. Three examples of benefits ocean planning can bring to the offshore wind industry include:

1. Bringing collaboration and communication to the forefront of project development.

Ocean planning brings diverse groups of interested parties together and enables an open dialogue among the public, industry sectors, and government agencies. Placement of wind turbines offshore can be an important topic of conversation not only for optimal wind generation capabilities, but also for those that live and work in the areas where offshore turbines will be constructed.  Through collaborative ocean planning, community and industry representatives can come together and identify areas of concern, and work together with the wind developer at the same table. For example, in Rhode Island, the planning process enabled commercial fishermen to indicate areas where turbines and fishing grounds overlapped, and through this collaboration, Deepwater Wind (developer of the Block Island demonstration project) modified their turbine placements through consultation with their engineering firm producing mutually beneficial results.

 2. Increasing understanding of marine ecosystem to inform project placement. 

Ocean planning is a data-driven, scientific process that works to combine existing and new research into a framework for effective decision-making. Scientists at leading universities are undertaking important research efforts to better understand the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic marine environment. As part of the regional ocean planning processes from Virginia to Maine, researchers have compiled thousands of layers of critical data and are working now to identify areas important for biological diversity. Offshore wind developers in this region will now have access to cutting edge biological and ecological data when determining the location of their wind farms, a unique level of marine ecosystem data that will conserve valuable habitat by ensuring wind farms are placed in appropriate places.

3. Enhancing the permitting processes by coordinating among multiple jurisdictional boundaries. 

The ocean and its resources are contained within a tangled web of regulatory bodies, and offshore wind companies face multiple competing jurisdictional requirements to finalize permitting processes. Federal, state, and local governments all have some level of involvement when it comes to offshore wind development, including project siting, environmental reviews, transmission cable landings, and more. A major goal in the ocean planning process in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast is to enhance coordination to avoid delays in project development. Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski says the Rhode Island Ocean Plan helped save years of permitting delays on the Block Island project.


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Diverse Stakeholders Deliver Unified Message to Congress and Administration: Smart Ocean Planning Makes Sense http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/03/27/diverse-stakeholders-deliver-unified-message-to-congress-and-administration-smart-ocean-planning-makes-sense/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/03/27/diverse-stakeholders-deliver-unified-message-to-congress-and-administration-smart-ocean-planning-makes-sense/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:15:04 +0000 Christine Hopper http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10028

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.

These stakeholders met with 57 Senate and House offices, Senate Commerce Committee staff, the National Ocean Council at the White House, U.S. Coast Guard, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). In each meeting, the stakeholders  voiced their support of a process that gives them a seat at the table with state and federal government agencies to address management of their regional ocean resources and ocean uses.

The message was simple: ocean planning is moving forward and has real benefits to states and industries.  It provides a seat at the decision-making table for ocean users across the region and seeks to proactively identify ocean uses and resolve conflicts before they become problematic.   Anti-National Ocean Policy riders in Congress would undermine the ocean planning work that the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions have already invested in; these riders are motivated by political agendas from outside these regions that have nothing to do with the practical, pragmatic work being done.

These 42 industry, academic, and conservation representatives outlined their individual interests in the regional ocean planning work, stressed the need for further collaboration among the group, and asked Congress and the Administration for their support  in ensuring regional ocean planning work moves forward unimpeded.

Ocean Conservancy supports coordinated ocean management decisions between state and local governments and ocean users to establish a healthier ocean and a thriving coastline.

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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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