Rebecca Clark Uchenna is the Island Institute’s Marine Resources Associate
I joined other ocean stakeholders from New England, and travelled to Washington D.C. this week. We were there to meet with congressional delegation about the upcoming release of the Nation’s first regional ocean plan under the National Ocean Policy.
The National Ocean Policy, established by Presidential Executive Order in 2010, called for the formation of nine regional planning bodies to better manage our oceans and coasts. Ocean planning is a way to make better, more efficient decisions about different ocean uses such as fishing, offshore energy and recreation as well as accounting for environmental changes and the health of the ocean and its creatures. Government agencies and stakeholders are working together to plan for the future and to make better decisions at the regional level, and it is important that Congress understand and support this planning effort in order to insure a sustainable healthy ocean.
New England is the first region in the Nation to respond and launched its regional planning body in 2012. The plan is a result of the fours years of work between the Regional Planning Body made up of representatives from New England states, 9 federal agencies, 10 federally recognized tribes and the New England Fisheries Management Council, as well as stakeholder input.
The draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan will be released May 25th, where the Regional Planning Body will convene a webinar from noon to 2:00pm. This webinar will announce the availability of the draft ocean plan and provide a brief overview of the draft. Following the release of the draft plan there will be a 60 day public comment period. Public comments will be collected and incorporated into the final plan and submitted to the National Ocean Council for approval this fall.
The Maine team included Richard Nelson, F.V. Pescadero, John Williamson, Seakeeper Consulting, Melissa Gates of Surfrider Foundation and Brian Marcauelle of Maine Island Trail Association. We met with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Congressman Bruce Poliquin, and Senator King’s and Senator Collins’s offices, advocating for the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan.