Massachusetts Releases First in the Nation Ocean Management Plan – Environmentalists Call for Active Public Comment

Brian Barth Brian Barth

Priscilla Brooks, CLF Director of Ocean Conservation Program
Jack Clarke, Mass Audubon, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations

BOSTON, MA (JULY 1, 2009) – Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles today released a draft comprehensive ocean management plan, the first of its kind in the nation, to guide all development activity, including renewable energy, in state ocean waters.  A requirement of the Massachusetts Oceans Act, the landmark ocean management plan is designed to end decades of ad hoc decision making by establishing a coordinated plan that seeks to balance economic growth with protection of marine wildlife and habitat.

The Massachusetts Ocean Coalition, a statewide coalition representing over 40 member organizations, applauds the release of the draft plan.  The Coalition intends to activate its member organizations as well as citizens across the Commonwealth to ensure that the final ocean management balances commercial and recreational activities with conservation needs in order to ensure a healthy ocean legacy for the Bay State.  Key requirements of the plan include the identification and protection of special, sensitive and unique ocean wildlife and habitats as well as the identification of preferable areas for appropriate-scale renewable energy facilities.

“This marks the culmination of a great deal of research and analysis” said Priscilla Brooks, Director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Ocean Conservation Program and a member of the Ocean Science Advisory Council appointed to advise on the scientific baseline for the ocean plan.  “The Conservation Law Foundation looks forward to reviewing the plan and working with the State to ensure that it stewards our ocean’s health for future generations.”

Development of this plan is driven by a statutory mandate contained in the Massachusetts Oceans Act, signed into law in May of 2008, that requires the Commonwealth to develop and implement the ocean plan by December 31, 2009.   The State will now solicit public comment, revise and then promulgate the final comprehensive ocean management plan by December 31, 2009.

“The State has proactively engaged a wide range of stakeholders in order to develop this landmark plan” said Jack Clarke, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for Mass Audubon and the environmental representative to the Ocean Advisory Commission.  “Mass Audubon expects that a robust public comment process with multiple public hearings will fine tune and strengthen the final draft in order to allow for protection of special, sensitive and unique marine resourece while providing for renewable energy options.”

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The Conservation Law Foundation works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England. CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. It has offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Concord, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island; Montpelier, Vermont; and Brunswick, Maine.
Mass Audubon works to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife. Together with more than 100,000 members, we care for 33,000 acres of conservation land, provide educational programs for 200,000 children and adults annually, and advocate for sound environmental policies at local, state, and federal levels. Mass Audubon’s mission and actions have expanded since our beginning in 1896 when our founders set out to stop the slaughter of birds for use on women’s fashions. Today we are the largest conservation organization in New England. Our statewide network of 45 wildlife sanctuaries welcomes visitors of all ages and serves as the base for our conservation, education, and advocacy work. To support these important efforts, call 800-AUDUBON (283-8266) or visit

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