New England Ocean Planning

At the April 2013 meeting of the Northeast Regional Planning Body (NE RPB), state, federal, New England Fishery Management Council, and tribal RPB members discussed regional ocean planning goals. A key outcome of this meeting was a set of draft goals:

Goal: Effective Decision Making  Improve management effectiveness, intergovernmental decision making, engagement, collaboration, and integration of best available knowledge. Reflect ever changing social, environmental, and technological conditions.

Goal: Healthy Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems  Develop a planning framework to protect, restore, and maintain healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems that provide social, cultural, spiritual, and economic benefits. Account for changing environmental conditions and new information as it becomes available. Respect the intrinsic value of the ocean, its biodiversity, and act as its steward/caretaker, recognizing humans as part of the ecosystem.

Goal: Compatibility Among Past, Current and Future Ocean Uses  Develop a planning framework to encourage compatibility among past, current and future uses of ocean and coastal waters while minimizing user conflict and impacts to environmental and cultural resources. Recognize local priorities and the connection of ocean uses and the ecosystem to shoreside infrastructure and activities. Facilitate increased understanding and coordination among stakeholders, recognizing the difficulty of resolving certain conflicts. 

In May and June the NE RPB has convened a series of meetings in communities from Maine to Connecticut, to gather insight from ocean interests and the public.  They have asked for feedback on the following questions:  

1. Which aspect of each goal (and its accompanying actions and outcomes) do you like and why? Which aspects would you change?

2. What should the priority outcomes and actions be for each goal for the next two years, and why?


These questions should be considered in light of the following framing principles put forward by the NE RPB:  

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.