Plan Makes Major Strides in Ocean Management; Work in Progress
Karen Wood, CLF, (617) 850-1722
Tricia Jedele, CLF, (401) 351-1102, x 11
PROVIDENCE, RI October 20, 2010 – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) called the approval of Rhode Island’s first ocean special area management plan – known as the SAMP – a victory for the state’s ocean waters – waters that are among the most productive in New England. The SAMP, developed by the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) with extensive input from scientists and government, business and environmental stakeholders, including CLF, aims to balance the protection of vulnerable marine habitats and wildlife with responsible ocean uses. The SAMP, along with the Massachusetts Ocean Plan which was implemented in January 2010, represent critical building blocks in the implementation of the Obama Administration’s recently released Executive Order on Stewardship of Our Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes which mandates the development of a comprehensive regional ocean management plan for all New England ocean waters and for other ocean regions around the nation.
“This plan is a major step forward for Rhode Island’s oceans,” stated Tricia K. Jedele, director of CLF’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center. “Our oceans are a critically important resource, providing jobs, food, recreation, transportation and clean energy. Ocean resources are under increasing pressure from competing economic interests, and subject to the regulatory confusion that can be caused by the patchwork of agencies and laws that govern these strategic resources. The SAMP is taking us in the right direction and will be a tool that we can use to ensure protection of these critical resources, but to be as protective and effective as it should be, it will require additional amendments. We look forward to continuing to work with the CRMC and other stakeholders to advance and implement the SAMP.”
CLF praised the SAMP’s strong protection of Rhode Island’s underwater habitats, in particular its rocky moraines that are so critical to the diversity of ocean plants and wildlife. The SAMP establishes a standard of environmental review that discourages harmful development and ocean uses, such as sand and gravel mining, dredging, and other ocean development activities that could threaten these unique offshore areas, formally designated as Areas of Particular Concern. The SAMP also identifies a renewable energy zone for the first time in Rhode Island waters that will ensure new offshore wind energy projects are appropriately sited. “To make renewable energy a success, we need to establish a clear siting process that appropriately streamlines permitting while also acting protect other important values, such as habitat, and other natural resources,” stated Jedele.
The Conservation Law Foundation (www.clf.org) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. CLF uses the law, science and the market to preserve natural resources, build healthy communities and sustain a thriving economy. Founded, in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.