Ocean Currents » New England http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:26:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 An Ocean of Thanks to YOU http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/23/an-ocean-of-thanks-to-you/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/23/an-ocean-of-thanks-to-you/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 16:10:35 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13363

The following message is from Janis Searles Jones, President, and Andreas Merkl, CEO.

This has been such a great year for the ocean, and I have you to thank for it. Protecting the ocean is a BIG job, and we can’t do it without people like you.

You’ve put in so much effort all year, that I want to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve accomplished together, celebrate our victories and look forward to the work still to be done.

Thanks to your hard work and support, here’s a taste of the incredible victories we’ve accomplished in 2016:

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers like you, all around the world, took part in our 31st annual International Coastal Cleanup. From the coastlines of the Philippines to the rivers of Pennsylvania, ocean lovers walked tens of thousands of miles and collected millions of pounds of trash, making our coastlines cleaner and healthier. And we have a plan to help cut the amount of plastic entering our ocean in half over the coming decade, so I hope I can continue to count on your support to help make that vision a reality.

Thanks to the support of ocean advocates (like you!), President Obama established two marine monuments: Papahānaumokuākea Monument—the world’s largest marine sanctuary—in Hawaii, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in New England. In just the span of a few weeks, Obama protected more U.S. waters than any other president in history. Together, we can ensure that these areas remain protected from special interests.

In the same year that Shell announced its withdrawal from oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea, the Obama administration just announced it will remove the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—as well as the Atlantic Ocean—from risky offshore drilling until 2022. Exclusion of the Arctic in the five-year plan means critical protection for the communities and animals that call the region home. But with oil and gas companies still eyeing the Arctic, we’ll need your continued support to keep this fragile area protected.

After six years of hard work and boots on the ground in the Gulf, BP finally agreed to pay more than $20 billion to the American people to help recover from the impacts caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Now, scientists are working to make sure that money is well spent on restoration and monitoring projects to bring the Gulf back to a healthy state.

Revolutionary new ocean plans in the New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions made history by paving the way for smart ocean management. These plans brought together the needs of many, many stakeholders and will help us best manage our ocean resources for humans and the environment alike. With your help, we’ll work toward implementing these plans and expanding them to other regions.

Together, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a fisheries management act that is largely responsible for the strong state of our nation’s fisheries. You’ve helped us keep the Magnuson-Stevens Act strong, and our nation’s fish populations are healthier because of it. I hope I can continue to count on your support to make sure we have healthy fish populations for generations to come.

The United States took critical action to increase protection around the ecologically rich Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. 160,000 square miles of ocean surrounding the islands have been protected as Areas to Be Avoided. Now, the Aleutian Islands, along with the wildlife and peoples who call them home, are safer from shipping accidents.

Ocean acidification is becoming more and more widely recognized as a problem both locally and internationally. We’re now calling on leaders worldwide to protect coastal communities and businesses at risk from acidification. And more than 18,000 people like you have signed Our Ocean Pledge to add your name to the effort—thank you!

All of these amazing ocean victories have one thing in common: YOU. I can’t thank you enough for your dedication and commitment to a healthy ocean. I want to express my sincerest gratitude for your support, and thank you for your commitment to our ocean. While there is a lot of uncertainty in the air, one thing remains true. The ocean is at the heart of all we do, and we need you to be effective ocean advocates. I hope I can continue to count on you as we continue to work tirelessly for our ocean in the coming months and years.

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Revolutionary Marine Life Data Released in the Mid-Atlantic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/04/revolutionary-marine-life-data-released-in-the-mid-atlantic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/04/revolutionary-marine-life-data-released-in-the-mid-atlantic/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 16:15:42 +0000 Katie Morgan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13055

Do you remember how excited we were in June when a revolutionary set of maps depicting where marine mammals, fish, and birds are distributed in New England was released? Well, let’s just say, we were pretty excited. You can only imagine our excitement when the Mid-Atlantic released a similar set of maps this month, characterizing the spatial and temporal distributions for over 100 species in the region.  This is a big deal.

Off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic lies a beautiful and complex ocean ecosystem, from shallow coastal bays to deep offshore canyons. This ecosystem is home to an array of species, many of which move in and out of the region at certain times of the year. In an effort to better understand how species are distributed throughout the region across space and time, a group of scientists undertook one of the largest known efforts to gather and synthesize species data. The draft products were just added to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal, substantially increasing our knowledge base of marine life for ocean managers, stakeholder, and the public.  While they are draft versions and therefore still subject to review and changes, this is a huge step forward for our understanding of marine life in the region.

Click on the photos below to view gallery

Marine Mammal - Senstivity to Low Frequency Sounds - Core Abundance - MidA Scale surface plungers core abundance area mida scale blog-Avian-Species---High-Collision-Sensitivity-to-Infrastructure---Core-Abundance---Mid-Atlantic-Scale

 

 

 

 

Interested in knowing marine mammals that are sensitive to high frequency sound are likely to be found? Want to know where endangered bird species are likely to be distributed? What about where the core biomass of forage fish is found? There is now a map for all of that.

Head on over to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal to explore these data, and more!

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We Made History. Again. http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/15/we-made-history-again/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/15/we-made-history-again/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2016 04:01:28 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12856

Last month, President Obama made history by establishing the largest protected marine area ever in Hawaii.

Now, he’s at it again.

Today, President Obama announced the protection of a new marine area in New England as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. That means that in just a matter of weeks, Obama has protected more U.S. waters than any other president.

Join us in applauding the Obama Administration for permanently protecting one of the most unique places in the Atlantic.


The New England Canyons and Seamounts represent some of the most astounding and diverse underwater ecosystems in the Atlantic. Located about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, the canyons are carved thousands of feet down into the edge of the continental shelf, where it drops off into the ocean depths.  Further out, the seamounts rise thousands of feet up from the ocean bottom, towering underwater mountains.

This incredible geologic diversity creates a unique hotspot for all kinds of species, many of which we are just now discovering. In 2013, a single research expedition discovered 24 deepwater coral species and three fishes that were previously unknown in the region.

The region is also home to whales, dolphins and a host of other species. Protecting this spectacular region means these animals can thrive for generations to come.

With these two announcements bridging sea-to-shining-sea, the United States has shown itself to be a leader in marine conservation. Let’s keep up the momentum.

Thank President Obama for making marine protection a priority from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

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New Ocean Plan is History in the Making http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/18/new-ocean-plan-is-history-in-the-making/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/18/new-ocean-plan-is-history-in-the-making/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 13:32:37 +0000 Anne Merwin http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12410

The summer sizzle has arrived and I have some hot news to share with you: The nation’s first regional ocean plan was just released in New England! This plan is a huge win for the Atlantic Ocean and everything that lives in it.

I couldn’t be more excited about this news!! But, I need your help to make sure the plan turns into real action on the water and not just words on a paper. Will you take action today?

I depend on an organized plan to help me get through a busy day—it’s the same with the ocean (and quite a bit more important)! We need a smart ocean plan to help organize and balance the many ocean uses like shipping, fishing and recreation—all while keeping marine ecosystems healthy and in balance. It’s a lot to organize!! But, this ocean plan is more than up to the task.

But time is running out! The comment period is only open until July 25, so you must add your voice now!

From its sandy beaches to kelp forests, New England is a beautiful and diverse environment home to thousands of marine species. But there are changes occurring; some we can see, and some we can’t. As our natural ecosystem changes, how we use the ocean changes, too. That makes this ocean plan and sound management more critical than ever.

Summer is slipping by fast—and so is this comment period! Don’t miss out. Can I count on your help today to tell the Regional Planning Body that you support their work on smart ocean planning.

The plan is a huge stride towards smarter ocean planning—a process that benefits both the ocean environment and communities that rely on a healthy ocean for enjoyment and their livelihoods.

Thank you so much for your help.

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Trove of Marine Life Data Released in the Northeast http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/06/23/trove-of-marine-life-data-released-in-the-northeast/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/06/23/trove-of-marine-life-data-released-in-the-northeast/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 19:54:43 +0000 Katie Morgan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12336

Last month, a collection of maps representing one of the largest known efforts to assemble and disseminate spatial data for multiple species of marine life was released in New England. This powerful new information database characterizes over 150 marine species through map based visualizations.

These data enhance our fundamental understanding of marine species and where they exist in the ocean, bringing us a step closer to a more comprehensive assessment of marine resources. In the end, the goal is to better inform decision-makers who are tasked with improving ocean ecosystems and enhancing our ocean economy.

The New England Ocean Ecosystem

Off the coast of New England lies a beautiful and complex ocean ecosystem. From sandy beaches to kelp forests to deep sea corals, this region is home to thousands of marine species, many endemic to the coastal and marine habitats that range from Connecticut to Maine. The habitat is shaped by the cold, nutrient rich waters circulating around the Gulf of Maine, and the warm influence of the South Atlantic brought north via the Gulf Stream. New England also boasts a huge array of underwater physical features, like mountains and canyons, that influence the biological diversity we cherish so dearly.

However, there are changes occurring in the waters of New England and the culture around it.

From ocean acidification to sea level rise to warming waters, we are seeing rapid changes in ecosystems as a whole, as well as individual species distribution and abundance. Native species are moving north or heading offshore to cooler, deeper waters, while non-native species are extending their ranges into New England from regions in the south as a result of the same warming trends. As ecological communities are shifting, so too are maritime communities that depend upon them for their livelihoods and enjoyment.

The Data: Marine Life & Habitat Characterization

Understanding the distribution and abundance of species, and their interactions with one another and their environment, is critical for better management and sound decision-making. However, our baseline understanding of the marine ecosystem has significant gaps.  To get a more holistic picture of what is going on in our ocean, we need better data. This is especially true at a regional scale.

In response to these data gaps, a group of over 80 regional scientists and managers, with input from the public, have begun to tackle this problem head on.

Through the Northeast regional ocean planning process, scientists participating in the Marine Life Data Assessment Team have focused their attention on enhancing marine life and habitat data; spatially characterizing the mammals, birds, fish, and habitat types of New England’s coastal and marine waters using complex models.

Some of the amazing information provided for the public to view and utilize include:

  • Individual species mapscharacterizing the distribution and abundance/ biomass of:
  • Physical and Biological Habitat maps, characterizing sediment grain type, size, and stability, surface and bottom currents and temperature, primary productivity, wetlands, shellfish habitat, and more.

In addition to individual species and habitat maps, the research team has begun synthesizing information to delineate diversity, species richness, total abundance, and core abundance areas for groups of species that share regulatory, ecological, and stressor-sensitivity characteristics. For example:

  • Regulatory and Conservation Priority Groups: To aid decision-makers, researchers grouped species based on various existing authorities such as Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
  • Ecologically and Biologically Grouped Species: By grouping species based on their life histories, trophic level, spatial distribution, and habitat requirements, these data products can help reveal underlying ecosystem processes that drive observed marine life patterns.
  • Stressor-Sensitivity Based Species Groups: Many species can be affected by a range of human use or environmental stressors. By grouping species based on specific stressors, such as sound frequency (whales) and sensitivity to collision with offshore wind farms (birds), these products can inform important offshore permit applications.

These maps and related information are just the beginning, and scientists are working to finalize all the information available online through peer and public review. Future iterations of the ocean plan could improve upon these data layers and their components to help inform comprehensive ecosystem-based management.

Understanding the limitations of our current understanding of marine life and habitat in the region, the Northeast RPB has identified a range of science and research priorities to begin addressing critical data gaps. To address such priorities, there is an entire chapter in the draft NE ocean plan devoted to laying out a research agenda, identifying key areas of focus to enhance our current database, and expanding upon the work that has already been done.

New England has gained a wealth of new scientific information and data products and has many exciting opportunities for new, regionally-relevant research which are specifically called out by regional scientists and managers as areas of high priority.

We encourage you to read the plan and explore the data for yourself!

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The Northeast Ocean Plan Sails towards a New Era for Ocean Management http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/27/the-northeast-ocean-plan-sails-towards-a-new-era-for-ocean-management/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/27/the-northeast-ocean-plan-sails-towards-a-new-era-for-ocean-management/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 15:06:23 +0000 Anne Merwin http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12166

The Northeast Ocean Plan, the nation’s first regional ocean plan was released this week and is now open for public comment through July 25. See Ocean Conservancy’s press release here.

This plan is the culmination of four years of work by state and federal agencies, tribes, the Fishery Management Council, stakeholders and the public.  New England has led the nation on collaborative ocean management since 2005 when it formed the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), the country’s first regional ocean partnership.  In 2010, the issuance of President Obama’s National Ocean Policy opened the door for New England to create the Northeast Regional Planning Body (whose work NROC supports), and to move forward with regional ocean planning.   The release of the draft plan this week is a major step towards more coordinated, science-based, and stakeholder-informed ocean management.  It results in better data and information on a wide range of ocean uses and resources, improved communication and coordination amongst the twenty plus state and federal agencies with jurisdiction in the ocean, and decision-making processes that better engage stakeholders and ocean users.  All with the goal of advancing ocean health and growing local economies.

So what does this plan mean for you as an ocean user?  Traditionally, ocean management was done on a sector-by-sector basis, with scant attention paid to the impacts a project would have on other uses until well into the project development process.  Too often, it was up to an ocean user, such as a recreational fisherman or a conservationist, to keep abreast of proposed developments like wind farms and dredging projects and to ensure new projects wouldn’t have a negative impact on the things they care about.  Essentially, the onus was on the ocean user to make sure that federal and state agencies knew about them, to put themselves ‘in the room’.  Ocean planning inverts that.

Thanks to the plan’s stakeholder-driven approach, the development of a public data portal with unique information describing how and where people and animals use the ocean, plus agency commitments to involve stakeholders and use their data, the responsibility is on the agency and decision-makers to make sure that what they’re doing has the least amount of impact to the interests and livelihoods of ocean users and the environment. With the Regional Ocean Plan and the Northeast Ocean Data Portal, ocean users like you are automatically put in the room.

We’ll continue to post more information about the specifics of the plan over the coming weeks, such as our latest blog describing the revolutionary marine life data that was released with the plan. Follow the links below for more information:

Read and comment on the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan here

Consider attending one of nine public meetings, if you’re in New England.

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Ocean Planning Brings a Taste of New England to Washington, D.C. http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/18/ocean-planning-brings-a-taste-of-new-england-to-washington-d-c/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/18/ocean-planning-brings-a-taste-of-new-england-to-washington-d-c/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 11:00:43 +0000 Katie Morgan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12093

What do lobster fishermen, recreational boaters, research scientists, family aquaculture businesses and renewable energy developers have in common? They’ve all pulled up a chair at a common table to address important decisions being made about our ocean, through a process called ocean planning.

Last week, nearly 30 ocean users from five coastal, New England states came to Washington, D.C., to talk about the Northeast regional ocean plan with Members of Congress and the National Ocean Council at the White House.

These stakeholders came to D.C. with a simple message: with the Northeast on the cusp of releasing the nation’s first ocean plan on May 25, ocean planning is moving forward and provides real benefits to our ocean, the states and ocean industries. It offers 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.

Over the course of two days, these ocean users met with 27 members of Congress and the National Ocean Council to talk about the benefits smart ocean planning has brought to the region and will continue to bring. This visit was a celebration of the hard work the region has put in to the planning process, and also a chance to discuss with federal leaders the significance of this ocean plan. They requested support for the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan and the efforts of ocean users like themselves who have been invested in this collaborative process with the goal of making better, more informed ocean use decisions.

The Experience

What were some of the takeaways for the people who came down from the region, and what does planning mean to different ocean sectors? Check out what three of the individuals that attended the D.C. fly-in last week had to say:

“My job is to empower students in engaging with their community’s greatest asset: the ocean. What excited me about meeting with the Connecticut delegation was seeing shipping, commerce, fishing, and government all working together on ocean planning. Now I can honestly tell my students: our government and ocean users work together! There are possibilities out there for you!”

— Mary Horrigan, New England Science and Sailing (Connecticut)

“We had a diversity of stakeholders attend these meetings with Congress. Did we have differences of opinion? Of course, we weren’t 100% in agreement, but that’s the whole point. The key thing with ocean planning is that we have multiple stakeholders involved and a transparent process. Commercial fishing is everything to the economy of New Bedford. But it’s important to keep in mind that offshore wind and boating are also important opportunities.

— Ed Anthes-Washburn, Port of New Bedford (Massachusetts)

“We really all came together—recreational boaters, shipping, seafood farmers, offshore wind—we are all different, but by working together we provided a unified front. It’s a really exciting thing. The support from the Representatives and Senators from Rhode Island has been huge! We appreciate their rallying for this worthy cause.”

— Greg Silkes, American Mussel Harvesters, Inc. (Rhode Island)

What’s Next?

On May 25, the Northeast Regional Planning Body will release the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan and will welcome comments for 60 days. A webinar will be held from noon-2p.m. EST, during which the Northeast Regional Planning Body will provide an overview of the draft and describe the public comment period.

The Mid-Atlantic is not far behind either—we expect to see the draft Regional Ocean Action Plan, spanning the waters from New York to Virginia in July! Learn more about the Northeast ocean planning process at their website, and learn more about ocean planning at our website.

Ocean Users Gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan, which will be released in draft form on May 25th Ocean Users from New Hampshire met with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) Senator Ed Markey (MA) stopped by to talk about ocean planning at a reception for the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan, and met with ocean users from across New England Greg and Mason Silkes stand with the Rhode Island oysters their family business supplied for a reception on the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speaks about ocean planning at a reception celebrating the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan Representative Jim Langevin met with Rhode Islanders to talk about ocean planning in New England Ocean Users from Maine met with Representative Chellie Pingree (ME) Ocean Users from Maine met with Representative Bruce Poliquin (ME) Representative David Cicilline poses with ocean users at a reception on Capitol Hill celebrating the upcoming release of the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan Rhode Island Oysters supplied by American Mussel Harvesters for an event celebrating the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan Capitol Building, Washington, DC ]]>
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