Ocean Currents » regional planning bodies http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Mon, 29 Aug 2016 20:57:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Moving Forward with Regional Ocean Plans: Update From the Mid-Atlantic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/10/08/moving-forward-regional-ocean-plans/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/10/08/moving-forward-regional-ocean-plans/#comments Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:13:05 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10844

This summer we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the National Ocean Policy, thanks to which multiple regions across the US have organized regional planning bodies (RPBs) to advance the goals of ocean planning. Leading the nation are the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic RPBs, which both anticipate releasing draft regional ocean plans in the first half of 2016.

In late September, the Mid-Atlantic RPB hosted a meeting in Norfolk, Virginia to update the public on their work over the summer and give an update on their outlook for the next few months. The Mid-Atlantic region is deep into the process of crafting a comprehensive ocean plan to cover ocean waters from Virginia to New York.  This meeting included workshops and roundtable discussions that brought together members of the public, industry, government, tribes and more, seeking input on work products and guidance moving forward.

Overview of the Mid-Atlantic RPB Meeting

Key Materials Released

Key materials were released ahead of the September 22nd – 24th meeting in Norfolk, Virginia. Of particular importance are the draft RPB timeline and outline of the Regional Ocean Action Plan. According to the timeline, the RPB anticipates releasing a draft of its ocean plan for public comment in June 2016. Some of the work products under development also had new drafts released, and were major topics of discussion over the past few days including draft inter-jurisdictional coordination actions that seek to improve coordination among agencies and enhance ocean ecosystems, health, and interactions with industry.

September 22nd: Stakeholder Workshop

A key aspect of ocean planning is strong engagement of regional stakeholders and the public at large. Continuing their effort to provide a platform for strong engagement, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Council (MARCO) hosted a stakeholder workshop to discuss and inform the work products from the RPB. Key topics of discussion included data synthesis updates from the marine life, human use, and regional ocean assessment teams as well as review of the draft inter-jurisdictional coordination committee materials. The discussions that were part of the stakeholder workshop directly informed the RPB member meeting the next two days.

September 23rd-24th: RPB meeting

Building on the Stakeholder Workshop, the RPB agreed on components of the ocean plan outline, identified next steps for both work products and clarified overall next steps as the RPB gets closer to finalizing a regional ocean plan.  It was evident throughout the meeting that significant progress had been made since the last RPB meeting in January 2015.  As development of a regional ocean plan for the Mid-Atlantic continues, we look forward to reviewing and supporting the continued progress.

Ocean Planning continues elsewhere

Like the Mid-Atlantic, the Northeast RPB is deep into the process of crafting an ocean plan for the region.  The Northeast is several months ahead of the Mid-Atlantic in its process, and will be hosting a stakeholder workshop on October 20th where key elements of how the plan will be implemented will be discussed.

While we await the country’s first regional ocean plans, we are already seeing the benefits of ocean planning being done on the state level.  Rhode Island was the first state in the country to complete a plan for its ocean waters, and thanks to that ocean plan, the Block Island Wind Farm project became a reality in record time with significant support from Rhode Island residents and businesses.  We believe this is just a preview of the types of benefits that can come from making informed decisions in coordination with multiple stakeholders and planning smart for the future of our ocean.

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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.


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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