United States of America: State Plans

State of Connecticut

In 2015 the governor of Connecticut signed state legislation that authorised development of a Long Island Sound “Blue Plan” to protect existing marine resources and traditional uses from future conflicting  or incompatible activities. The University of Connecticut is preparing an inventory of the natural resources of Long Island Sound and human uses. The
Blue Plan will be developed through a transparent and inclusive process that includes widespread public and stakeholder participation and encourages public input in decision making. Under the state legislation, the plan must be completed by March 2019.

State of Hawaii

The Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan was completed in 2013; it is a framework or strategic plan.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Governor of Massachusetts signed the State’s Oceans Act on May 28, 2008 requiring the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to develop a comprehensive ocean management plan, with a draft plan by June 30, 2009, and a final plan promulgated by December 31, 2009. The state had only one year to develop a plan.

Oceans Act of 2008 directs that the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan:

(i) set forth the states’s goals, siting priorities and standards for ensuring effective stewardship of its ocean waters held in trust for the benefit of the public; and (ii) adhere to sound management practices, taking into account the existing natural, social, cultural, historic and economic characteristics of the planning areas; (iii) preserve and protect the public trust; (iv) reflect the importance of the waters of the commonwealth to its citizens who derive livelihoods and recreational benefits from fishing; (v) value biodiversity and ecosystem health; (vi) identify and protect special, sensitive or unique estuarine and marine life and habitats; (vii) address climate change and sea-level rise; (viii) respect the interdependence of ecosystems; (ix) coordinate uses that include international, federal, state and local jurisdictions; (x) foster sustainable uses that capitalize on economic opportunity without significant detriment to the ecology or natural beauty of the ocean; (xi) preserve and enhance public access; (xii) support the infrastructure necessary to sustain the economy and quality of life for the citizens of the commonwealth; (xiii) encourage public participation in decision-making; (xiv) adapt to evolving knowledge and understanding of the ocean environment; and (xv) identify appropriate locations and performance standards for activities, uses and facilities allowed under the Ocean Sanctuaries Act, including but not limited to renewable energy facilities, aquaculture, sand mining for beach nourishment, cables, and pipelines.

Following the directives of the Oceans Act, plan development proceeded in three phases: information gathering, draft plan development, and formal public review of the draft plan/plan finalization. Throughout the entire process, EEA developed the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan in the context of an extensive public participation program. This included 18 public listening sessions held across the state to gather initial information, five public workshops to introduce the planning approach and solicit feedback before draft plan release, regular OAC and SAC meetings, five formal public hearings following the release of the draft plan, and hundreds of meetings with stakeholders such as pilots, fishermen, nongovernmental organizations, and academia during the development of the draft and final plans.

A 17-member commission advised the Secretary as the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) developed the ocean management plan. The commission included state legislators, agency heads, representatives from a commercial fishing organization and an environmental organization, an expert in the development of offshore renewable energy, and representatives from the coastal Regional Planning Agencies. The Secretary also received assistance from a council of nine scientists with expertise in marine sciences and data management.

The Oceans Act also requires that at least once every five years, the ocean plan be assessed and amended as necessary to ensure that the Oceans Act goals are met. To ensure that this mandate is met, and to assist in the evolution of ocean management in Massachusetts, the final plan identifies priority science and data acquisition tasks. As described in the ocean management plan’s science framework, efforts are underway to conduct these priority research projects.

The plan was completed on time and has been integrated into the state’s coastal zone management program. Its management measures are regulatory and enforceable.

State of New York

New York Ocean Action Plan (2017-2027).

State of Oregon

Marine planning in Oregon can trace its roots back to 1973 when the Oregon legislature established a statewide land use program and created and instructed the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to develop a set of statewide planning goals to guide local government planning and state agency programs. Parts of this statewide program are keystone elements of Oregon’s marine planning program today, such as citizen involvement, local government planning, and state agency coordination. An Ocean Resources Goal established a priority for renewable resources, emphasized optimum-yield management for fisheries, and established a decision-making process that required adequate inventory information and the assessment of impacts from development actions.

In 1990 an Ocean Task Force developed the Oregon Ocean Resources Management Plan that the LCDC subsequently adopted as part of the state’s coastal management program. The plan built on the intent of the Ocean Resources Goal but did not specify how specific areas or activities in Oregon’s territorial sea should be managed. Oregon’s territorial sea extends 3 nm from the shore and covers about 2,600 km2 of marine waters.

In October 2008 the Oregon LCDC directed the Department of Land Conservation and Development to initiate a Territorial Sea Plan administrative rulemaking project. The project was intended to develop mandatory policies that apply to state and federal agency approvals for the location and operation of ocean-based energy power generation facilities in the Oregon territorial sea. In November 2009 the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted an Oregon Administrative Rule for the Territorial Sea Plan. The new rule includes policies that apply to state and federal agency approvals for the location and operation of ocean-based energy power generation facilities in the Oregon territorial sea.

The outcomes of the new territorial sea plan will be to: (1) find ocean energy sites; (2) protect commercial/recreational fisheries; (3) prevent conflicts with existing ocean users; and (4) protect important ecological areas and values.

The plan was amended in 2013 with renewable energy facilities section, approved and implemented.

State of Rhode Island

Through the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP), the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) committed to uphold both its obligations to preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore the coastal resources of the state for this and succeeding generations, and to ensure that the preservation and restoration of ecological systems shall be the primary guiding principle upon which environmental alteration of coastal resources will be measured, judged and regulated. The waters off Rhode Island’s coasts have long served as an important and highly valuable environmental, economic and cultural hub for the people living in the region.

The natural beauty of these offshore waters, along with their rich historic and cultural heritage, provides aesthetic, artistic, educational, and spiritual value and is part of the appeal that draws people to live, work, and play in Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s offshore waters are an ecologically unique region and host an interesting biodiversity of fish, marine mammals, birds, and sea turtles that travel throughout this region, thriving on its rich habitats, microscopic organisms, and other natural resources.

There is an increased demand for the potential placement of many structures and activities, including liquefied natural gas infrastructure, aquaculture, and artificial reefs, in Rhode Island’s offshore waters. However, the major driver for the development of the Ocean SAMP was the determination by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources in 2007 that investment in offshore wind farms would be necessary to achieve Governor’s mandate that offshore wind resources provide 15 percent of the state’s electrical power by 2020. In response, the CRMC proposed the creation of a SAMP as a mechanism to develop a comprehensive management and regulatory tool that would proactively engage the public and provide policies and recommendations for appropriate siting of offshore renewable energy.

The Ocean SAMP is the regulatory, planning and adaptive management tool that applied to implement these regulatory responsibilities in the Ocean SAMP study area. Using the best available science and environmental and civic organizations, and local, state and federal government agencies, the Ocean SAMP provided a comprehensive understanding of this complex and rich ecosystem. The Ocean SAMP also documented how the people of Rhode Island have used and depended upon these offshore resources for subsistence, work, and play, and how the wildlife such as fish, birds, marine mammals and sea turtles feed, spawn, reproduce, and migrate throughout this region, thriving on the rich habitats, microscopic organisms, and other natural resources. To fulfill the Council’s mandate, the Ocean SAMP laid out enforceable policies and recommendations to guide CRMC in promoting a balanced and comprehensive ecosystem-based management approach to the development and protection of Rhode Island’s ocean-based resources within the Ocean SAMP study area.

The Ocean SAMP was approved and implemented in 2010. The plan is currently being updated.

State of Washington

In March 2010, the Washington State Legislature enacted a new law on MSP. Under the new law, the state must: Recommend an approach to marine spatial planning through an interagency team. A final report was submitted to the legislature on January 14, 2011.

The new marine spatial planning law sets out general principles, guidelines and key elements for a plan in Washington. However, the law provides flexibility and adaptability in how to do the planning. The law specifically requires the state to establish a framework for renewable energy as part of the plan. If the state receives federal or non-state funds, the law also directs state agencies to:

  • Compile and incorporate spatial data into current plans;
  • Develop guidance on the operation and siting of renewable energy facilities in marine waters; and
  • Conduct comprehensive marine spatial planning for all of Washington’s waters.

The Washington State Pacific Coast Spatial Plan is to be completed in 2017. A draft MSP plan is available.

Updates will be posted on this website as MSP activities in the United States of America develop.

Last updated: August 2018
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