Marine Planning
Practical Approaches to Ocean and Coastal Decision-Making

Policy: USA – States


While the federal government has regulatory authority for ocean waters between 3 and 200 nautical miles off shore, the states hold regulatory control in the important waters from 0 to 3 nautical miles1 off shore, where most ocean uses occur. State initiatives in coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) will be essential, as this is where the greatest need and conflicts occur. Through the Regional Planning Bodies, the states will determine how to implement CMSP in state and cross-boundary regional waters. In addition, CMSP decisions in federal waters will directly affect the states because all offshore industries must bring their products—such as fish, cargo, oil, and telecommunications cables—to shore.

State-level Action by The Nature Conservancy

Coastal states are taking many different approaches to CMSP, and their initiatives serve as models for future CMSP efforts at state, regional, and national levels. The Nature Conservancy is contributing scientific, technical, and policy expertise to assist these state efforts. The following are examples of the Conservancy’s activities to date.

Maryland coastal atlas screenshots

The Maryland Coastal Atlas offers several mapping applications. Image from website courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources

For More Information


1 For Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, jurisdiction extends 9 nautical miles from shore.


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