Onward: ocean plans for a truly blue economy

neoceanplanWendy Lull | SSC President

After several years of following the process to create the nation’s first ocean plans, I am very pleased that two regional plans, the Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan, have been finalized. These plans promote the use of integrated ocean data and best practices for informed and efficient management of shared marine resources. This approach is designed to work across all levels of government and to advance economic, environmental, and cultural priorities within each region. In addition to years of historic collaboration among states, tribes, Federal agencies, and Fishery Management Councils, the Plans are a result of extensive participation and input from marine stakeholders representing fishing, recreation, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and many other interests. It has been an honor to be part of this new way of thinking about how we can and should use the ocean.

Both Plans build on a foundation of thousands of new maps easily accessible through the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Data Portals. This extraordinary new generation of data products has been developed in consultation with scientists and marine industries to include a vast array of marine resources, including ecosystem information on 150 species of marine mammals, seabirds, and fish, and a wide range of information on human activities including fishing, recreation, shipping, and renewable energy. In short, if you want to know what’s going on where in our coastal ocean, check the portal!

Completing these plans is a significant milestone for ocean stewardship, and I’m proud that the Seacoast Science Center, and the state of New Hampshire have been part of this effort. Now the Pacific Islands, West Coast, and Caribbean regional planning bodies can use these plans as references to develop plans of their own. As the Plans are implemented, they will pave the way for the nation to advance economic and conservation goals through sound ocean management, which is the essence of a truly blue economy.

To learn more, you can join us this winter when the Center screens Ocean Frontiers III, the latest documentary in Greenfire Productions’ series on ocean planning. Here’s a sneak peek: Ocean Frontiers III trailer. If you can’t wait for the movie, our colleagues at the Ocean Conservancy have created an excellent overview.