Excellence in Solutions
,
2017

Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Planning Team & The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Regional Planning Bodies

To fully utilize and protect the ocean requires good planning which is why this year’s Solutions Award is going to three model programs that engage a wide range of ocean stakeholders including state, federal and tribal ocean resource managers to better understand, map and make use of our public seas for all citizens.  Understanding our marine ecosystems and how they function and applying that shared knowledge to permitting and planning processes allows not only for better common allocation of public waters but reduces conflicts between different users in fisheries, marine farming, shipping and ports, offshore clean energy, national defense and marine parks, wildlife and habitat. These collaborative efforts have focused on identifying and carrying out best practices for early coordination in decision-making; developing, sharing, and using new and better ocean data; and implementing interjurisdictional coordination actions that address priority opportunities and challenges in each region. Most importantly, they are enabling us for the first time ever to make smarter, better coordinated planning decisions for long-term enhancement of our shared ocean resources, including fisheries stocks, transportation channels, and the leasing, permitting and development of offshore energy projects. That is why our awardees include three widely-admired planning bodies: the ocean SAMP team in Rhode Island and two ocean policy planning bodies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that were established under the U.S. National Ocean Policy of 2010.  Each of these three groups has produced landmark ocean plans that will benefit all users and provide excellent models for other states and regions to engage in smart ocean planning.  Ultimately, they are proving that securing our ocean future in a collaborative way is not only possible, but the best way forward.