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As new coastal and ocean uses develop, it is becoming clear to resource managers that an over-arching organizational plan is needed. Currently coastal and ocean areas are managed by a patchwork of state and federal agencies. Regional ocean planning will allow different uses like fishing, diving, and shipping to coexist by minimizing conflicts and addressing management comprehensively. Watch this short video.
The National Ocean Council, established on July 19, 2010 by President Obama, recommended creating such comprehensive plans through the National Ocean Policy (NOP). Watch this video on the NOP. The Implementation Plan describes many specific actions including supporting regional ocean planning.
The NOP subdivides the United States into nine regions (see map). In each region, a Regional Planning Body (RPB) will develop and implement a regional ocean plan. Currently only the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic RPBs have begun meeting. Some regions already have regional ocean governance groups (see below), formed through agreements between state governments. In the coming years, theses existing organizations will either directly support or become formal RPBs themselves.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean, or MARCO, is an arrangement by the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia to collaborate in advancing goals to protect our ocean and coast. To further these goals, MARCO created the Ocean Data Portal, an online tool to organize available data from the region.
The other regional ocean governance groups already in place include the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), Governors’ South Atlantic Alliance (GSAA), Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), and West Coast Governors’ Agreement (WCGA).
Surfrider’s goal in ocean planning is to protect special places along our coasts and ensure that future development of the oceans will minimize impacts to the marine environment and recreational uses. To that end, we will engage our members and other recreational users in the public process in both regions.