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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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New Case Study Shows How Smart Ocean Planning Helps Put Businesses in the Fast Lane

Posted On July 2, 2014 by

Photo: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

This weekend, millions of Americans will head to the beach to celebrate Independence Day—and get stuck in traffic trying to get there.  But we aren’t the only ones getting tied up as we try to use the ocean: Businesses are too.  New business projects in any setting require jumping through some regulatory hoops, but projects in the ocean are notoriously more difficult to navigate. Unlike projects on land, the ocean is managed on a sector-by-sector basis and by multiple agencies (over 20 on the federal level, not counting states). Projects on the sea must often go through a time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating authorization process by multiple levels of government. For many businesses, this can mean months to years of time spent waiting instead of generating new jobs and revenue.

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High Tide on the Hill: Stakeholders Ask Congress for Funding to Prepare for a Changing Ocean

Posted On March 19, 2014 by

Last week, I wrote about the benefits of coastal and marine spatial planning, or smart ocean planning. To make smart ocean planning work, decision-makers need accurate data on all the ways the ocean is used. Regional Ocean Partnerships coordinate with stakeholders and officials to collect this data. The Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and West Coast regions have already made this data publicly available through data portals.

The ocean economy supported over 2.6 million jobs and contributed $223 billion annually to the U.S. GDP in 2009. However, billions of dollars are lost every year as a result of changing ocean conditions, extreme weather events, and climate hazards that impact the many sectors of the ocean economy. Fortunately, the data that Regional Ocean Partnerships collect and share can be used by decision-makers to make smart planning decisions that promote the resiliency of coastal communities to these threats.

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Effective Ocean Planning Needs to Be Coast-to-Coast, Not Beach-to-Beach

Posted On March 14, 2014 by

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.

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A Crowded Ocean Needs a Coordinated Plan

Posted On March 7, 2014 by

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.

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North America’s First Floating Wind Turbine Raises Need for Smart Ocean Planning

Posted On August 7, 2013 by

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?

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Video: Protecting Our Ocean Through Marine Spatial Planning

Posted On July 30, 2013 by


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.  It is part of an ongoing video series on the value of smart ocean planning.

This film highlights the vital connection between economic prosperity and healthy oceans by sharing perspectives on efforts being made to manage ocean environments so they remain healthy and able to support the food, job, transportation and energy needs of economies worldwide.

Watch the other films in this series:

 

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Happy Anniversary to Vital Ocean Policy

Posted On July 20, 2013 by

humpback whale breach

Credit: Phil Wrobel / Photo Contest

It was just three years ago yesterday that President Obama signed the Executive Order establishing the National Ocean Policy. We’ve come a long way so far, and we are starting to realize the policy’s considerable promise.

As I’ve written about before, the National Ocean Policy and the subsequent Implementation Plan are historically significant. President Obama recognized that a healthy ocean is a productive ocean and thus established the policy to ensure that we work together to balance use and conservation.

This policy directly addresses the key challenge of our time: how to meet the enormous resource demands of a rapidly growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. The ocean, of course, is at the center of every aspect of this challenge—food, energy, climate and protection of our natural resources.

Our ability to manage impacts on the ocean will make a crucial difference in making this planet work for 9 billion people. As the ocean is asked to provide in so many ways, it is inevitable that we need to prioritize, coordinate and optimize. That’s where the National Ocean Policy—a set of common-sense principles to help protect our ocean resources—comes in.

This anniversary offers an opportunity to look ahead. Read more at National Geographic’s News Watch blog.