Supporting the Long-term Economic and Ecological Health of the Mid-Atlantic

MARCO is supporting the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (state, federal, tribal, and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council partners) in leading a regional ocean planning initiative for the Mid-Atlantic, with the close involvement of local communities, businesses, and other stakeholders, as an important goal.

The purpose of the Mid-Atlantic regional ocean planning initiative is to facilitate sustainable, safe, productive, and appropriate economic development activities and to support the protection and restoration of the marine ecosystem so that it continues to provide the many goods and services that the people of the Mid-Atlantic want and need into the future.

Improving Understanding, Establishing a Vision

The overarching goals of the Mid-Atlantic regional ocean planning effort are (a) to improve understanding of how ocean resources and places are being used, managed, and conserved, and (b) to establish a broad vision that will guide actions to address shared regional priorities.

Information obtained through regional ocean planning is intended to guide management decisions. The regional ocean planning process does not change existing authorities or create new mandates. Rather, it improves the way those authorities and mandates are implemented.

Planning is grounded in stakeholder input and the best available information. Previous collaborations of the Mid-Atlantic states — with one another, federal agencies, partners, and stakeholders — have laid a strong foundation for regional ocean planning.

Key Elements of Regional Ocean Planning

  • Identify shared regional objectives to focus decision-making.
  • Develop a suite of products, including a regional ocean assessment of ocean-related human uses, natural resources, and economic and cultural factors to provide a comprehensive context for decision-making.
  • Engage stakeholders and scientific/technical experts to ensure managers have the best available information for decision making about ocean uses and conservation.
  • Produce, coordinate, and analyze data across jurisdictions and agencies to provide better understanding of the potential effects of decisions.
  • Develop and implement coordinated management actions across jurisdictions using existing ocean management efforts and authorities.
  • Help federal and state agencies and tribes address inconsistencies across policies and other potential areas of conflict.

Selected Initiatives in the Region

Mapping Atlantic Coast Recreational Uses

Recreational use mapping workshops have been held in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, and the data is now available as one continuous layer on the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal. Using a participatory GIS process, each of the states captured data for approximately 22 distinct recreational uses occurring from the shoreline to the 200-mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary. The Virginia maps are also available at by clicking “Atlantic Coast Recreational Use” in the left column.

2013 Mid-Atlantic Recreational Boater Survey

Recreational boating is a vital activity in the Mid-Atlantic coastal region for both economic and recreational reasons.  The MARCO Data Portal Team launched a boating-only survey during the 2013 boating season to garner a better understanding of how and where recreational boaters use the ocean to allow for efficient ocean planning. This complements a recreational boating survey previously completed for the Northeast, which included New York’s offshore Atlantic areas.

See Your Ocean Plan and Resources for additional information on Mid-Atlantic regional ocean planning.

Page last updated: March 1, 2014