United States (Atlantic Regions)

United States (Atlantic Regions)

Northeast Atlantic Region

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB), composed of representatives from the six New England states, six federally-recognized American Indian tribes, nine federal agencies, and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), was formed in 2012. Substantial funding for the MSP process was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The plan identifies three goals: healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems; effective decision-making; and compatibility among past, current, and future ocean uses. Although the plan imposes no new regulatory requirements, it proposes the use of data; intergovernmental coordination between federal agencies, tribes, and states; and stakeholder engagement to guide and inform RPB agency activities toward meeting these three goals. The plan is another step toward advancing a more comprehensive and ecosystem-based approach to managing human activities in the ocean. The plan will change over time, evolving to better handle emerging issues and incorporating new information.

The plan is a forward-looking document intended to strengthen intergovernmental coordination, planning, and policy implementation, while at the same time enhancing the public’s ability to participate in the process of managing ocean resources. Its initiatives and actions aim to improve the process of data collection and dissemination, enhance stakeholder contributions and engagement, locate potential areas of coflict, identify additional information and science needs, and promote core goals that will protect and enhance New England’s marine ecosystem.

The first formal meeting of the RPB occurred in 2012. As the RPB began its work, it engaged multiple audiences and stakeholders in an effort to inform the development of ocean planning goals and to establish reference information on human activities and the ecosystem. The RPB held public meetings and initiated several projects to gather this information, collaborating with scientists, the fishing industry, boaters, the recreation community, and environmental groups, as well as leaders in the shipping, aquaculture, and energy industries.

In 2014, this process led to the formation and adoption of the ocean planning goals, objectives, and an associated work plan, the “Framework for Ocean Planning in the Northeast United States”. The work plan detailed the tasks the RPB would undertake to develop the plan—including the continued development of peer- and expert-reviewed data through stakeholder engagement and expert work groups.

The RPB directed the plan development process and developed the substance of the plan. From the outset, it did so along multiple simultaneous tracks, each of which informed and built on the others. Formal RPB meetings were convened roughly every six months, and each of these meetings included time for public comment. Prior to each meeting, the RPB convened public workshops and gatherings focused on upcoming topics and decisions. RPB decisions always followed a consensus-based approach that welcomed and incorporated public and stakeholder input. Seven multi-day public meetings of the RPB occurred, beginning in November 2012 and leading to the issuance of the draft plan in spring 2016. Following a series of public meetings across New England during a public comment period from May through July 2016, the RPB revised the draft plan.

The plan was approved by the National Ocean Council in December 2016.

KEY ELEMENTS

Authority:Executive order or directive
Lead Planning Agency:Northeast Regional Planning Body
Financing:More than US$5,000,000 for planning (up to implementation phase). Limited funding exists to partially implement the plan.
Size of Planning Area:More than 100,000 km2
Time required to complete the plans:2-4 years
Drivers of MSP:Need for a more integrated approach; Economic growth concerns; Perceived conflicts among uses, e.g., marine mining v. fishing; Perceived conflicts between uses and nature conservation, e.g., marine protected areas; Marine conservation or biodiversity concerns; New and emerging uses of the marine area, e.g., wind energy, aquaculture; Effects of climate change (e.g., sea-level rise)
Stakeholder participation:Throughout the MSP process
Sectors included in planning:Domestic Commercial Fishing; Recreational Fishing; Aquaculture; Marine Transport; Ports; Offshore Renewable Energy; Mineral Mining/Aggregate Extraction; Recreation & Tourism; Military; Underwater Cultural Heritage; Marine Conservation; Restoration
Relation to coastal management:Strong connection to adjacent coastal management program
Relation to marine protected area management:MPAs planned under a separate process
Plan approval:Plan completed and approved by national government in December 2016.
Legal Status of Plan:Regulatory/Enforceable
Plan revision:Review/revision every 4-5 years
Performance monitoring and evaluation:Plan has not been revised yet

us atlantic regions

Mid-Atlantic Region

In April 2013 the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body was formed with representatives from six states, two federally-recognised tribes, eight federal agencies, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council—and the regional planning process began. Substantial funding was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. One year later the PPRB approved the “Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Planning Framework”. The framework articulates the RPB’s vision and geographic focus (New York – Virginia) and establishes a set of guiding principles, goals, and objectives. It was developed collaboratively and approved by the RPB to guide the creation of the plan.

The development of a Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Assessment (ROA) served as a snapshot and information resource for the regional ocean planning process. The ROA provided an engaging and reader-friendly distillation of information on the region’s ocean resources and selected topics in ocean planning for decision-makers, stakeholders, and the broader public. The ROA brought together and summarised best available information on the ocean ecosystem and ocean uses from New York to Virginia. The ROA also provides links to more in-depth information sources, including a Mid-Atlantic Data Portal.

In July 2016 the PRB released the draft plan for public comment. The draft plan was the result of three years of collaborative planning efforts to address complex ocean management challenges and advance the two goals of the Mid-Atlantic RPB: (1) promoting a healthy ocean ecosystem; and (2) planning and providing for sustainable ocean uses in the Mid- Atlantic region.

The plan provides tools, information, and processes that enhance the capacity of federal, state, and tribal entities and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to carry out their missions, work together more effectively, and serve the needs of stakeholders in the region. The plan does not change existing authorities or create new mandates at the Federal, State, and Tribal levels. Rather, actions within the plan aim to improve the effectiveness of Federal, State, Tribal, and MAFMC implementation of their respective responsibilities in the ocean waters off of the Mid-Atlantic region.

To specifically address the RPB’s goals and objectives, 44 management actions are described in the plan. The actions address healthy ocean ecosystems, sustainable ocean uses, science and research, and performance monitoring and evaluation.

The plan was approved by the National Ocean Council in December 2016.

The plan will be implemented primarily by federal and state agencies and tribal governments through the operations of their existing staff and programs since actions in the plan are directly supportive of their missions. Where additional resources may be required to address specific actions, RPB members may draw on networks of partners, existing initiatives, and public-private partnership models that engage relevant sectors and interests. Leveraging of existing and partner resources will be a primary focus of RPB efforts. If necessary, the RPB will update implementation commitments to reflect available resources and capacity.

Government processes will improve in several ways as a result of this plan, and those will also benefit ocean users and other stakeholders. For example, the plan and Data Portal provide materials that will help agencies and project proponents reduce time and effort associated with the environmental permitting process, including:

  • An extraordinary amount of newly accessible data and derived products that represent marine life and human activities, developed in collaboration with, and vetted for publication and use by a wide range of agencies, subject-matter experts, and stakeholders. Increased information in the Data Portal will serve as a central location for agencies and project proponents alike to reference and consider, resulting in a common “data vocabulary” for discussions to begin from;
  • Best practices that enhance the use of these newly accessible data and support better coordination and communication among agencies, project proponents, and stakeholders. Agencies are committing to working better together, with stakeholders, with states, and with tribes; and
  • Actions that will provide technical products and outreach to support permitting and management decisions.

KEY ELEMENTS

Authority:Executive order or directive
Lead Planning Agency:Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Federal Colead)
Financing:Between 1 and 3 million US$ for planning (up to implementation phase). Sustained funding for implementation not known or approved at this time.
Size of Planning Area:Exclusive Economic Zone and Territorial Sea (0-200
nm)
Time required to complete the plans:2-4 years
Drivers of MSP:New and emerging uses of the marine area, e.g., wind energy; aquaculture; Marine conservation or biodiversity concerns; Perceived conflicts between uses and nature conservation, e.g., marine protected areas; Perceived conflicts among uses, e.g., marine mining v. fishing; Need for a more integrated approach
Stakeholder participation:Throughout the MSP process
Sectors included in planning:Mineral Mining/Aggregate Extraction; Recreation & Tourism; Military; Underwater Cultural Heritage; Marine Conservation; Offshore Renewable Energy; Marine Transport; Artisanal Fishing; Recreational Fishing; Domestic Commercial Fishing
Relation to coastal management:Weak connection to adjacent coastal management program
Relation to marine protected area management:Existing MPAs referenced but no new MPAs proposed in management plan
Plan approval:Plan completed and approved by national government in December 2016.
Legal Status of Plan:Advisory/Strategic
Plan revision:Review/revision every 4-5 years
Performance monitoring and evaluation:Plan has not been revised yet