With the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan (OAP) finalized in December 2016, efforts have pivoted from the document’s development toward its implementation. With the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (MidA RPB), the five MARCO member states have begun advancing a wide-ranging agenda of actions that were identified in the Plan.

The Plan aims to improve available information and enhance processes to ensure a healthy, productive, and resilient marine ecosystem and sustainable ocean uses in coastal and offshore areas from New York through Virginia. Developed by the MidA RPB – a consortium which includes the MARCO states plus Pennsylvania, eight federal agencies, two tribal entities and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council – the OAP is the product of collaborative discussions that began in 2013, and outlines a suite of actions for improving collaboration on decision making for ocean waters in the region.

The MidA RPB submitted the OAP for federal review in the fall after considering thousands of written comments as well as feedback received during a series of open house public listening sessions hosted in July by MARCO.  A response to comments document describing how the MidA RPB incorporated public input is on the MidA RPB website, along with a Frequently Asked Questions document. The MidA RPB also provided information on the final OAP in a Dec. 8 public webinar (click here for recording).

In May, the MidA RPB will be among a group of organizations recognized with a Peter Benchley Ocean Award for “Excellence in Solutions” in recognition of its efforts to produce the OAP.

Below are some of the actions the MARCO states are advancing in conjunction with the MidA RPB:

Healthy Ocean Ecosystems: Plan actions include identifying Ecologically Rich Areas at sea, mapping shifts in marine species/habitats, launching an ocean acidification monitoring network, building a regional strategy for marine debris reduction, and monitoring the health of the region’s ocean ecosystem.

Sand Management: Inventory available resources for future resilience and beach restoration projects and improve existing federal-state interactions.

Non-Consumptive Recreation: Identify, characterize and share information about measures to maintain the recreational value of important non-consumptive recreational areas and the activities they sustain.

Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal: Develop and implement a plan for the site’s continued operation and enhancement.

Science and Research: Identify priority applied science and research needs for the region.

Coastal Zone Management Act: Continued improvement of collaboration and communication on ocean issues between federal government, states and tribes.

MARCO and the MidA RPB appreciate the efforts of all stakeholders and members of the public who provided comments and participated throughout the Plan development process.

The MidA RPB continues to welcome comments from the public during implementation. Those interested may email the MidA RPB at any time at MidAtlanticRPB@boem.gov. Please check the MidA RPB website for updates and additional information.