Our ocean is busy and gets busier every year. It is a massive economic engine that is fueled by vibrant and healthy ecosystems. Our ocean generates nearly $400 billion per year to our national economy, from commercial shipping and ports, to fishing that feeds our nation, and recreational activities like surfing, kayaking and tourism. Add to that new uses like offshore wind farms and rapidly changing ocean conditions driven by climate change and it’s a lot to handle.
Ocean Conservancy advocates for smart ocean planning to find better solutions and resolve conflicts in this increasingly complex ocean world. We support planning that is science-based, data-driven, and developed by stakeholders and managers from the ground up in the regions. Each ocean plan is different, and tailored to the specific needs of the region. Rather than creating a new set of laws, these plans provide information and cross-sector engagement that can help identify and resolve potential conflicts early, creating better outcomes for everyone. Ocean planning is a tool to help achieve better results; it puts the right information and the right relationships at our fingertips. And it’s already being used on a daily basis.
Ocean Planning in Action
Why is ocean planning quickly becoming a fundamental part of the way we manage our ocean? Because it works. When a wind farm was first proposed off the coast of Rhode Island, it had a lot of people concerned. The state of Rhode Island decided to tackle those challenges and others by undertaking an ocean planning process. Fast forward to today: Rhode Island’s state ocean plan has been credited with helping make Deepwater Wind’s Block Island project the first successful offshore wind installation in the U.S., notable for its broad support across multiple groups. Similar ocean planning processes have already occurred or are underway in other states as well, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Washington and Oregon.
“It brings all parties to the table, recognizing that resources are finite and demands are great.”National Aquarium Chief Conservation Officer, in the Baltimore Sun
Ocean planning began in the states, but in 2016 moved further offshore when the country’s first regional ocean plans were approved in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic. There are now two more regional plans underway on the West Coast and Pacific Islands as well. These groundbreaking regional plans have brought together cutting edge data, multiple state, federal and tribal leaders and an incredible array of ocean stakeholders to provide practical tools for coordinating ocean uses and improving decision-making in our federal ocean waters.