Marine Planning
Practical Approaches to Ocean and Coastal Decision-Making

Policy: USA – National


Ocean energy production, aquaculture, fishing, recreation, sand and gravel extraction, tourism, and shipping are economic engines in the United States. The U.S. ocean economy alone provides more jobs and more economic output than the entire farm sector. Similar to urban sprawl, the oceans are facing “marine sprawl” as industries compete for space and new ocean uses emerge. In the United States, ocean management today is divided among 23 different federal agencies that oversee more than 140 different and often conflicting and competing laws affecting marine resources; this does not even take into account state and local laws. As a result, ocean spaces tend to be managed and regulated on a sector-by-sector, case-by-case basis without accounting for the trade-offs, interactions, or cumulative impacts on other activities or the environment.

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary: An Example of the Potential Benefits of CMSP Comprehensive planning enabled the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Coast Guard, and several other government agencies and stakeholders to examine shipping needs, proposed deepwater liquefied natural gas port locations, and endangered whale distribution in a successful effort to reconfigure the Boston Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) to reduce the risk of whale mortality due to collisions with ships in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Source: Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, 2009). Diagram: NOAA/Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Monies for Marine Conservation: A White Paper Examining New Funding Sources for Oceans and Coasts

The Nature Conservancy released a report in May 2012 summarizing an 18-month investigation into a suite of traditional and innovative financing ideas for marine conservation. In recent years, there has been chronic underinvestment in marine funding and shrinking budgets at all levels of government. Implementing the ideas captured in the report could result in new funding sources for marine conservation, restoration and on-the-ground spatial planning. The Conservancy hopes this report will contribute some fresh ideas and spark a renewed dialogue about conservation finance. This white paper may also serve as an initial step in the formation of a coalition of organizations interested in advocating for new funding for the ocean.

Report: Monies for Marine Conservation

New U.S Ocean Policy to Integrate Management

The need for a multi-objective ocean vision has been recognized at the highest level of government. On July 19, 2010, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order that established the first-ever national ocean policy, created a National Ocean Council composed of cabinet-level officials, and directed federal agencies to implement coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) consistent with the Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.

CMSP offers a proactive, integrated, systems approach to plan for current and future uses of the ocean. The Executive Order and Final Task Force Recommendations present the case for CMSP, and they define goals, principles, and a time frame to implement CMSP over the next five years with a major focus on regional implementation. These policy documents highlight the need to incorporate sound, integrated science; ecosystem-based, adaptive management; and a transparent planning process involving stakeholders, tribes, and regional ocean partners.

The Nature Conservancy Provides Policy Support

As the only environmental non-government organization with marine science and policy experts in every U.S. region and a presence in all coastal states, the Conservancy is well positioned to help advance CMSP. For many years, the Conservancy has collaborated on multi-objective marine planning with government agencies at state, regional, and federal levels in the U.S., as well as in other nations. In 2009, The Nature Conservancy convened an expert workshop on marine spatial planning and published Best Practices for Marine Spatial Planning. To support the implementation of CMSP in the U.S., The Nature Conservancy is contributing its expertise in government relations, policy development, marine science, natural resource planning, geospatial technology, and development of decision support tools. The Conservancy is also providing the comprehensive datasets from its marine ecoregional assessments and its extensive experience in engaging stakeholders in multi-objective planning.

National-level Action by the Conservancy

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