Today, the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB)—composed of representatives from the six New England states, six Federally recognized tribes, nine Federal agencies, and the New England Fishery Management Council—released the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan, the Nation’s first draft regional marine plan. This represents a tremendous step towards advancing collaborative planning for our Nation’s oceans and coasts. Regional marine planning promotes more efficient and effective decision making and enhances economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being. In turn, regional actions support national objectives to grow the ocean economy, increase regulatory efficiency and consistency, and reduce adverse impacts to environmentally sensitive areas.
The draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan that is being released today is the outcome of 3.5 years of coordinated engagement with local stakeholders to identify priority issues of interest for the Northeast region. The Plan promotes the use of integrated ocean data and best practices for more informed decision making about marine resource use and management at all levels of government. In doing so, the Plan builds on a process that has relied and continues to rely on engagement with the public, sound science, comprehensive ecosystem-based management, transparent decision making, and adaptive approaches. In keeping with these principles, the Northeast RPB is seeking public comment on the draft Plan and is encouraging all interested parties to provide input online or via a number of public meeting opportunities scheduled around the region. For more information, see http://www.cmsp.noaa.gov/activities/index.html and click on the link for the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB).
Voluntary regional marine planning is one important outcome of the President’s Executive Order on Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts and the Great Lakes, which established the National Ocean Policy and called for the formation of nine regionally focused RPBs to better manage our Nation’s oceans and coasts. The National Ocean Policy provides a collaborative framework for ensuring the long-term health, resilience, safety, and productivity of our coastal and marine communities, as well as the global mobility of our Armed Forces and the maintenance of international peace and security. Additionally, it ensures that the many Federal agencies involved in ocean activities effectively work together both inside and outside of government; support state, tribal and local partners; and provide easy access to information. The National Ocean Council, which is co-chaired by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Environment Quality, is charged with implementation of the National Ocean Policy and works collaboratively with the regional planning bodies to support development of regional marine plans.
Beth Kerttula is Director of the National Ocean Council.