Surfrider Foundation is deeply involved in the process of ocean planning taking place in the Mid Atlantic (NY to VA) and the Northeast Regions (CT to ME). The idea is that the ocean is getting crowded and there are many different and sometimes conflicting uses. Thoughtful ocean planning should enable us to avoid conflicts, and encourage compatible uses. At a Regional Planning Body listening session in Long Branch, Kenny Walter of the Atlanticville caught up with Surfrider Foundation’s Matt Gove for this 11/27/14 article.
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Work begins on Atlantic coastal plan
Stakeholders representing coastal states from Virginia to New York, along with state and federal agencies, are beginning the work of drafting a plan aimed at ensuring the long-term health of the Atlantic Ocean.
Representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (MidA RPB), the group charged with drafting the Regional Ocean Action Plan, held a Nov. 18 public listening session in Long Branch to outline the process of creating the long-term plan.
Matt Grove, policy manager for the Belmar based Surfrider Foundation, said in an interview that the project should be completed by the end of 2016.
“What we are tasked to do is basically all come together and collaborate and make sure our oceans are healthy,” he said.
“Tourism is the main thing going on in [coastal] communities. People are hitting the beach and using the beach, and the main goal is to make sure people can still rely on the ocean and healthy fishing, healthy clean beaches to use and just a strong ecosystem.”
The MidA RPB was formed following the signing of the National Ocean Policy and is tasked with creating a plan to “provide information about the baseline conditions, resources and uses of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean; contain the best available data that currently exists; and identify trends, data gaps and future uses to the extent possible.”
The group includes representatives from each state included in the plan, the federal government and federally recognized tribes.
The plan will be broken down into several major sections: biology and ecology; the ocean environment; air and sea interactions; national security; ocean energy; fishing; ocean aquaculture; marine commerce and navigation; offshore sand management; and undersea infrastructure.
Grove said implementing the plan would benefit the fishing and tourism industries that rely on the ocean. “It is coordinating and sharing data and making sure we are on the same page for the goal of keeping the ocean healthy and the ecosystems healthy,” he said.
He said one of the issues is the lack of coordination between different agencies, individual states, U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Grove also said the plan would seek to identify more suitable locations for ocean projects such as a wind farm proposed in the New York/New Jersey harbor and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility proposed off the coast of Long Branch, which has been vetoed by the governor.
“So the [wind farm] proposal came in, and then about a year later a proposal to do an offshore LNG came in, too. And it is right in the same place as the proposed wind area,” he said. “That area is also an area the Coast Guard uses for training, and it is also a good fishing area.
“We are trying to avoid situations where, basically, whoever puts in their paperwork and permit applications first has first dibs on the area. Instead, we are trying to be proactive and get out and plan these things and have a plan for the best place to do things.”
Grove said the plan should give Surfrider a baseline to oppose proposals like the LNG project.
While the plan will include a set of recommendations, data collection points and other information, Grove said one of the challenges would be juggling different laws for the various states represented in the plan.
However, once in place, Grove said coastal municipalities would see a benefit from a healthier ocean.
“I think the local communities really will benefit, because tourism is the main thing going on in those communities,” he said.
The MidA RPB is a quasipublic organization affiliated with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
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