Do you want to help shape the future of New England’s ocean and our coastal economy? New England leads the nation in regional ocean planning and now is the time for your thoughts on healthy oceans and coasts to be heard. A series of ten public meetings are being held in from late May through June to get your questions and ideas. Why should this matter to you? If you enjoy fishing, going to the beach, surfing, boating, or are interested in offshore renewable energy, these are all reasons to get involved in ocean use planning.
Starting next Thursday in Portland, ME, then continuing on through all New England’s coastal states, members of the Northeast Regional Planning Body (convened pursuant to the National Ocean Policy – which President Obama signed in June, 2010) which represents federal agencies, states and tribes will be holding public meetings to start a conversation about how our ocean waters should be used, conserved, better understood, and more effectively managed in the future.
At each meeting there will be presentations from Regional Planning Body (RPB) representatives about what regional ocean planning is, and how we might accomplish it in New England.
There will be a focus on a set of 3 draft goals, each of which has a series of potential outcomes and possible actions that could be taken to achieve these outcomes. The goals are in three broad categories – effective decision making, healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems, and compatibility among past, current, and future uses. The goals have been framed around the following principles:
1. The ocean and its resources are managed for the benefit of the public, now and in the future.
2. The historic, cultural, and spiritual importance of the ocean are important to consider.
3. The present and past connection between communities, watersheds, and ocean is important.
4. New ocean uses are emerging and existing ocean uses are changing.
5. There is concern about changing ocean “health” and ecosystem conditions.
6. Better data and information, including traditional knowledge, will lead to better understanding and decision making.
7. There is a need for improved government efficiencies and transparency.
8. We need to adapt as environmental, social and economic conditions change.
9. Importantly, regional ocean planning outcomes must be implemented through existing authorities and regulations. Neither the National Ocean Policy nor regional ocean planning create or change existing authorities.
After the RPB’s presentations, there will be significant time for public comment and discussion at each meeting.
So, find a meeting close to you, learn about the planning process, and help shape New England’s first ever regional ocean plan.