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.
- Washington: The state passed comprehensive CMSP legislation in 2010. Staff members from The Nature Conservancy testified at the House hearing and helped to educate stakeholders on the purpose and merits of CMSP. The Conservancy is working with state agencies to identify data gaps and to identify management objectives, laying the foundation for their future CMSP planning efforts. Two private foundations have provided funding for the Conservancy to host public engagement forums, update critical data sets, and develop a website where the public and government can view spatial data.
- Rhode Island: In October 2010, the state completed and approved an Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) under authority of the Coastal Zone Management Act. The Ocean SAMP is a marine spatial plan designed to implement ecosystem-based management and to provide clarity to offshore renewable energy developers. The SAMP represents the first time that a state has extended its authority to review federally permitted activities in adjacent federal waters for consistency with the state’s coastal zone management plan. The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island worked as an internal and external partner to the State in developing this plan. The Conservancy provided ecoregional assessment data that were included in the formal Ocean SAMP document, promoted stakeholder engagement, and advocated for regulatory protections for sensitive marine resources.
- Florida: The Nature Conservancy is an official partner of the Florida Ocean Alliance, a diverse stakeholder group that has recommended the state develop an ocean management plan. For Florida Ocean Day, the Conservancy organized a panel on CMSP, and staff members testified before and met with members of the Florida’s House Select Policy Council on Strategic and Economic Planning. The Council chair has since recognized the need for CMSP and has committed funding to preliminary mapping efforts.
- Maryland: Funded by a state grant, the Conservancy worked with staff from the Maryland Chesapeake and Coastal Program to compile and format marine spatial data for the Maryland Coastal Atlas, an online mapping tool. As part of the project, the Conservancy developed science-based guidance to assist state agency managers in making siting decisions for offshore wind energy, as a precursor to a more formal marine spatial planning process.
- Oregon: The state’s ocean planning program began in 1991 and most recently has been focused on proposals to establish marine reserves and to develop offshore renewable energy facilities. The state has conducted two years of mapping to document the socioeconomic uses and values of the ocean, including detailed information about fishermen’s gear and specific fishing locations. The Conservancy supported this effort by digitizing fisheries logbook data, and it participated in a process to designate new marine reserves, which increased the area of protected state waters from less than two percent to more than seven percent.
For More Information
1 For Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, jurisdiction extends 9 nautical miles from shore.