Northeast Ocean Plan Released, Public Comments Sought

Comments Sought on Revised MA Ocean Management Plan
Photo Illustration/New England Boating

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB), formed of representatives from the 6 New England states, federally recognized tribes, federal agencies and the New England Fishery Management Council, has issued its long-awaited draft Northeast Ocean Plan, which is designed to shape management decisions regarding ocean resources in the region. The draft plan is the result of a 4-year planning process created with input from thousands of marine stakeholders. The plan is now open for a 60-day public comment period through July 25.

Read the draft plan HERE

Under the new plan, state and federal agencies have committed to using better data and working with local stakeholders such as fishermen, offshore wind developers, maritime interests, educators, tourism businesses and recreational organizations on planning and permitting projects that could impact important fisheries, habitats, cultural sites and commercial enterprises in New England.

The “bottom-up approach” is now possible because of the development of unique information about how and where stakeholders operate along the ocean landscape for inclusion in the regional ocean plan and the publicly available web portal, the Northeast Ocean Data Portal.

The plan incorporates data on uses from coastlines to open ocean and aims to improve decision-making in federal waters (3 to 200 miles offshore).

The public comment deadline is July 25, 2016. Comments may be submitted on each chapter electronically at each chapter landing page, in-person at any of the upcoming public comment meetings, through the comment form listed on the NE RPB website, or by submitting written comments to:

Betsy Nicholson, NE RPB Federal Co-lead
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Regional Office
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930-2276