Northeast Ocean Plan Receives Official Stamp of Approval

By Aimee Bushman

This blog was originally posted on Dec. 7, 2016, for the New England Ocean Action Network.

Today marks New England’s most anticipated, and undoubtedly most catalytic milestone in ocean planning: the National Ocean Council has approved the Northeast Ocean Plan, the first of its kind in the nation!

New England has been the foremost leader in ocean planning. With Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and soon-to-be Connecticut leading the charge with state ocean plans, our region has long implemented smart, collaborative tools and resources for intelligent ocean management. Today’s achievement is the result of more than four years of unprecedented partnership between all New England states, federal agencies, and New England-based native tribes.

Countless public meetings have been held and the stakeholder voice is evident on every page, data layer, and agency commitment within this plan. Our region has committed, on every level, to be smarter about how we collectively use our ocean’s resources.

At its core, ocean planning calls for robust inclusion in decision making, and the drafting process of the Northeast Ocean Plan followed suit, by conducting numerous stakeholder forums, opportunities for public comment, and successful partnerships with NGOs and coastal communities. The result is a final Northeast Ocean Plan and Data Portal that are truly reflective of the diversity of voices connected to New England’s ocean.

A Game Changer for Our Region

The implementation of the Northeast Ocean Plan will be a game changer for New England. Based on the latest and best science, the Northeast Ocean Plan formalizes voluntary commitments made from federal and state agencies who will now begin using the Northeast Data Portal to identify potential conflicts, assess the compatibility between uses, and engage coastal communities early in decision making for a range of maritime projects.

A committed embrace of inclusivity, better collaboration, and fewer conflicts on the water will result in a growing blue economy, the preservation of New England’s established industries, and a healthier ocean for all.

This is New England’s plan. Largely crafted by New Englanders, advocated for and supported by New Englanders, and ultimately implemented by many who call this region home — New England’s values are embedded within this plan. And no matter the challenges that face us, New Englanders will use our local and regional strength to ensure this plan is implemented for the benefit of our coastal communities, marine life, businesses, and for future generations.

NEOAN thanks the Northeast Regional Planning Body for their commitment to our ocean and coastal communities, and offers congratulations for this tremendous and historic achievement.

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