Today, the National Ocean Council released a Marine Planning Handbook to support the efforts of regions that choose to engage marine industries, stakeholders, the public, and government to advance their economic development and conservation priorities.
Each coastal region of the country has its own interests and ways of doing business, but all regions want to support their marine economies and coastal communities. Voluntary marine planning is a science-based tool that provides regionally tailored information that all ocean interests can use to reduce conflicts, grow ocean industries, and support the healthy natural resources that our economy and communities depend on.
Federal, state and local governments have a variety of roles and responsibilities when it comes to the ocean, and make decisions every day that impact ocean resources, industries and coastal communities. Regions that choose to do marine planning are guaranteeing that the public and marine stakeholders will shape these decisions early on, promoting better outcomes for everyone. Regions can define what they want to address and how they do so, in ways that reflect their unique interests and priorities. At the same time, some components of planning – like making sure the public and stakeholders have a chance to engage – are common to all regions. The Handbook provides guidance on how regions can address their priorities through a bottom-up, transparent, science-based process.
The Handbook reflects the extensive public and stakeholder input received in the development of the National Ocean Policy and its Implementation Plan. We will update it as needed to reflect the lessons learned in regions and ensure it continues to be a useful guide for successful, collaborative planning.
Deerin Babb-Brott is the National Ocean Council Director.