Credit: Walt HubisThe ocean and the ways which people use it are evolving and expanding quickly. Planning for those changes can help make resource management and policy efforts more effective, leading to improved ocean health and greater benefits for society.

Ocean planning is a means for engaging a wide cross-section of governmental entities and stakeholders to improve understanding of how ocean resources and places are used, managed and conserved. The information shared through this process can help guide actions that can inform governmental and stakeholder discussions and decisions by ensuring they are based on the best available data.

One of the ways in which MARCO serves as a regional ocean planning leader is through its management of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal. The free and publicly accessible site contains thousands of interactive maps showing ocean resources and human use information such as fishing grounds, recreation hot spots, shipping traffic concentrations, habitat areas and offshore renewable energy sites. The Portal serves as a platform to engage all stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic, putting state-of-the-art mapping and visualization technology into the hands of public agencies, marine industries, community leaders and others involved in ocean planning as well as the general public.

Collaboration in the Mid-Atlantic

Previous collaborations of the Mid-Atlantic states have laid a strong foundation for regional ocean planning. From 2013-18, MARCO previously supported the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (Mid-A RPB), which undertook a regional ocean planning initiative for the region. The Mid-A RPB included  state and federal representatives, tribal entities and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and they created a Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan that was certified by the White House in December of 2016.

In 2018, President Trump signed Executive Order 13840 (the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States), which replaced RPBs with state-led planning efforts that address ocean-related matters that may require interagency or intergovernmental solutions. Although the RPB is no longer active, the MARCO states and former RPB member organizations continue to collaborate on shared priorities – including those highlighted in the latest executive order.

Following the executive order, MARCO sent these invitation letters to federal and regional agencies and tribal entities to collaborate on ocean-related matters: Interagency Ocean Policy Committee | MAFMC | Pamunkey Indian Tribe | Shinnecock Indian Nation

Additional Resources

The following materials were developed as part of the 2013-18 Mid-Atlantic regional ocean planning process and are provided here for reference. For additional archive documents, click here.