The tradition of ocean planning leadership in New England continues as Connecticut moves forward with the creation of its ‘Blue Plan’ for managing Long Island Sound. Last week, a successful forum was held to kick off public engagement efforts in the development of the plan.
In 2015, Connecticut passed a law establishing a process for the development of a comprehensive plan to manage its ocean resources – balancing existing and future uses such as shipping, fishing, and recreation with care and protection for habitats and ocean wildlife. New York, which shares management responsibility within the Sound, is also involved in the drafting process.
The Long Island Blue Plan will be a milestone both for its efforts to balance environmental protections with human use, and its successful continuation of the tradition of state-based ocean plans from neighbors Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These state-based ocean management plans work in conjunction with the soon-to-be-finalized regional management plans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Forum Kicks Off Public Engagement Effort
On November 16, those involved in planning efforts held a public forum entitled “Shaping a ‘Sound’ Future With the Long Island Sound Blue Plan” at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. The event was hosted by the Blue Plan Advisory Committee and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), in partnership with several nonprofit organizations focused on marine conservation, ocean management, and preserving maritime trades.
The forum provided an opportunity to learn more about the proposed Blue Plan and how it might impact and benefit Long Island Sound. A diverse panel of speakers representing municipal and state government, non-governmental organizations, and industry communities discussed the process and how the Blue Plan would benefit both the state’s economy and environment. A screening of Ocean Frontiers II: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea gave the public a look into Rhode Island’s creation of the state’s Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) and the beginnings of the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan process.
Attendees asked questions and provided input as part of the hosts’ larger effort to educate Connecticut residents on and build grassroots momentum for this exciting new endeavor.
We can expect to see a completed Long Island Blue Plan by 2019, and Conservation Law Foundation is thrilled to see New England continue to be a national leader in ocean planning. Yet again, we’re witnessing states embracing and taking the lead in smart ocean management, to the direct benefit of all of New England’s ocean users, iconic marine life, and habitats.