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Mid-Atlantic Moves Forward on Ocean Planning with its Regional Ocean Assessment

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Ocean Conservancy has worked to support smart ocean planning in the US by engaging ocean users from dozens of industry sectors, the conservation community, and the public alike since the National Ocean Policy was announced in 2010. Along the way, we have seen strong engagement from a wide variety of ocean voices, incredible data portals, and exciting collaborative efforts among stakeholders. This year is a big year for ocean planning and ocean communities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: we will finally see the culmination of hard work and collaboration from individuals, organizations, governmental officials and more, with both regions set to release draft ocean plans in the first half of the year. While we eagerly anticipate the release of the draft ocean plans, we are beginning to see exciting work products come out, that help inform the public and expand upon our existing knowledge of our ocean ecosystem and economy.

Last week, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), a five state partnership of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, met with the public to discuss their work on marine life and human use data, and previewed an ambitious and wide-ranging website on the vast natural resources and economically-important uses of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, which contribute to the health and vibrancy of the region’s coastal communities. This website, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Assessment (ROA), is a comprehensive information resource developed to support the regional planning process, distilling key information on ocean ecosystems and the ocean economy into easily digestible summaries for decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public.

Think of the ROA this way: It is like an executive summary for dozens of resources on the ocean, including the ocean data portal, distilling vast information sources in to easily understandable sections on the ocean ecosystem and economy. The ROA brings together the best available information on ocean ecosystem and ocean uses in the Mid-Atlantic, and is a gateway for even greater information sources. Paging through the website, you will easily find additional data sources, reports, and webpages ranging from ocean acidification to commercial shipping. Key data points are turned in to facts and figures, visually drawing the visitor in while conveying important information that will ultimately help guide the planning process and decision-makers in the future.

The ROA is a living document that will continuously be updated as additional data and information become available, and will remain a critical resource for a wide variety of users into the future. This is just one of many exciting products we expect to be released in the coming months, as both the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast prepare their ocean plans for completion by the end of 2016.  We will continue to update you here as the planning process continues and if you are interested in additional, more detailed information please sign up for our newsletter.

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