Ocean Planning – New England Leads the Way

Robin Just

The multiple uses of our coasts and ocean require coordinated planning.

Ocean planning is a practice proudly developed in New England. We’ve often written about the success of the Massachusetts Ocean Plan and the Rhode Island Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), as well as ways that ocean planning already works in New England. Now we are excited to announce a new network of ocean users supporting the National Ocean Policy. CLF has joined together with dozens of groups throughout New England, including the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Surfrider Foundation, Massport, the New England Aquarium, Sierra Club chapters, and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association to help build a sustainable future for New England’s ocean, coasts, and the communities that depend on them.

Founded to support the development of the nation’s first regional ocean plan, the New England Ocean Action Network (NEOAN) brings together individuals and organizations from the region’s environmental community, educational and research institutions, fishing industry, clean energy field, recreational ocean users, and other industries and stakeholders to advocate for a healthy ocean and thriving economy.

What does this diverse group of people have in common? We all share a belief that regional ocean planning can help us coordinate our activities while minimizing and mitigating conflicts among ocean users and protecting healthy ecosystems. Visit NewEnglandOceanAction.org to find out more about who we are and to learn about regional ocean planning.

New England’s coast and ocean are among our region’s greatest economic, environmental, and cultural assets – bringing over $16 billion annually to our region’s economy. Safeguarding the natural environment and improving the management of our coast and ocean through a comprehensive ocean planning process will help to grow our region’s coastal and maritime economy, restore and protect ocean and coastal ecosystems, and recognize and acknowledge New England’s unique maritime heritage.

This is why NEOAN supports, monitors, and comments on efforts to develop a comprehensive, region-wide ocean planning process and will advocate for the development of a plan that:

  • Is developed through an open and transparent process that includes the full participation of New England’s ocean and coastal users and coastal communities;
  • Uses the best available scientific, economic, and cultural data; legal information; and local knowledge;
  • Acknowledges and recognizes the economic and cultural importance of the commercial and recreational fishing industries, as well as other historical ocean users;
  • Supports the sustainable development of both our ocean resources and our local and regional economies;
  • Seeks to minimize the impacts of human-induced climate change and ocean acidification;
  • Maintains adequate federal funding for ocean planning efforts;
  • Fosters cooperation between federal, tribal, state and local agencies and governments;
  • Protects, restores and maintains clean coastal waters and healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems for the benefit of human communities and marine wildlife;
  • Educates ocean users, the public, regional decision makers and stakeholders about the need and value of a comprehensive regional ocean plan and planning process.

A good plan needs a good planning process, and a good planning process gives everyone a seat at the table and a voice. NEOAN will work to advocate for an open, transparent, and participatory planning process and will work with stakeholders and the public to help them understand the planning process and the importance of participation. We invite the participation of other ocean users groups in NEOAN. Contact NEOAN for more information at thriving@newenglandoceanaction.org.

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