Nation’s First Regional Ocean Plan

Wendy Lull  |  SSC President

Three and a half years in the making, the nation’s first regional ocean plan, a plan for the northeast, has been released. The Seacoast Science Center has been tracking the process as the first NH member of the New England Ocean Action Network from the start. I am looking forward to digging into the draft and hope that you read it and share your thoughts during the 60-day comment period. This plan is designed to be dynamic, interactive and responsive. The Regional Planning Body that drafted the plan has done an excellent job of incorporating as many voices and perspectives as they could and welcome input for anyone who cares about, works on or with the sea.

WLull_OceanPlanWebinar

Wendy Lull participates in the live webinar announcement of the Northeast Ocean Plan on May 25, 2016.

The ocean has become a very busy place with new and emerging human uses; the ecosystem is rapidly changing. This plan is needed for a focused regional discussion about the future of the ocean. Please take a moment and read the summary press release or read the draft plan. A key component of the plan (and frankly, a lot more fun than just reading the plan) is the data portal. I think you will be impressed with the amount of information that is now available to all ocean users. It gives a sense of the diversity of voices and factors taken into considering in preparing the draft. There are nine public meetings throughout New England. I will be attending the June 30th meeting in Portland, ME.

After the comment period, the plan will be revised and recommended to the National Ocean Council. And that’s when the real work begins. This document, and the collaboration, communication, and connections it has created are as dynamic as the sea itself. I am committed to continuing my connection to this approach to advancing ocean health and coastal ecosystems.

While the states were working on this regional plan, the New Hampshire Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission worked on a local data-driven approach to prepare coastal communities for changing ocean conditions. The two planning efforts are similar: they use data to change the way we humans think about, manage, and use our ocean and coastal resources. The Commission’s approach was somewhat different; it was land-based (of course) and did a yeoman’s job of planning around uncertainty. The Commission’s draft report is also open for public input and comment. I am very proud that the Commission chose the Seacoast Science Center for its June 1st public meeting.

I know that planning doesn’t sound all that exciting. But, would you believe that it makes a great movie? It does! And, if you follow that movie with a distinguished panel of people who have been working these local, regional, and national planning efforts, it becomes a great night out and a fun way to see how all this work is combining to sustain our coastal communities. You can learn more and register to attend the film screening and panel discussion of The Great Bear Sea: Reflecting on the Past, Planning for the Future, to be held at the Seacoast Science Center on Tuesday, June 7, 2106, at 6:30pm.

For nearly three decades, I have worked for the ocean. At times, it has been hard to be optimistic about human impact on the state of the sea. However, today, I am heartened by the quality of research, the diversity of voices, and the commitment of so many to overcome daunting differences and overwhelming amounts of—or lack of—information. The work shows how we can put science and experience to work in proactive ways that will benefit our coastal communities and improve ocean health.

View Previous Post