State sets Ocean Management Plan review meetings

In December 2009, the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) issued the Commonwealth’s first Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. The release of the plan was the culmination of an intensive planning process launched in May 2008, with the signing of the Oceans Act by Governor Deval Patrick. The plan provides protection for critical marine habitat and natural resources in the Commonwealth’s waters and sets standards for the development of offshore renewable energy, as well as for other infrastructure, to foster sustainable ocean uses.

The Oceans Act requires the review and update of the plan at least once every five years, and in January 2013, EEA began this review. Since that time, the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), on behalf of EEA, has been working with the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council on the update of the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. As a key part of this process, six technical work groups (focusing on habitat, fisheries, sediment resources, recreational and cultural services, transportation and navigation, and energy and infrastructure) were convened to provide expert input and to assist in the compilation and analysis of data and information that will help inform the plan revision process.

A fundamental principle of the ocean planning process is to promote extensive public involvement in decision making. As with the development of the 2009 plan, to achieve this goal, CZM will hold two public workshops in March focused on the data, products, and recommendations of the work groups. Workshop attendees will: (1) find out more about the plan revision process, (2) learn about the findings and recommendations of the technical work groups, focusing on new data, notable trends, and important issues, and (3) provide input to help inform the ocean plan update. SeaPlan (formerly the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership) is providing significant support and assistance for these workshops, and all are welcome to participate.

The first workshop will be on Monday, March 10, 3:30–6 pm, at 89 South Street, Second Floor, Boston. Register for Boston. The second will be Tuesday, March 11, from 3:30–6 pm, at the Falmouth Public Library, Hermann Room, 300 Main Street, Falmouth. Register for Falmouth here.

Jo-Ann Taylor, coastal planner and district of critical planning concern coordinator at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission represents the commission in this ocean planning work.