Regional Ocean Plans

Fostering Collaboration Among the States

Collaborative ocean planning is being voluntarily undertaken for federal waters (3-200 nautical miles offshore) in several regions across the United States, facilitated by a group of federal, state, fishery management council, and tribal partners in each region. In addition, a handful of states have taken the initiative to develop plans for their own state and coastal waters (0-3 nautical miles offshore). In 2016, the nation’s first regional ocean plans were finalized in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. These plans are now being implemented.

Because ocean planning is voluntary and only done at the request of the states or regions, different regions are at various stages of the planning process. The following regions and their partner states are currently undertaking or have finalized state or regional ocean plans. Learn more about what is occurring in your region and around the country here:

Northeast

A Northeast Regional Ocean Plan was developed by six states – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont – along with federal, fishery management council, and tribal partners. The Northeast finalized their plan in December, 2016.

In addition to the regional plan for federal waters, several individual states are also planning for their state ocean waters:

  • Massachusetts – Massachusetts Ocean Plan (Plan completed in 2009; review and update of the plan in 2015)
  • Rhode Island– Rhode Island Special Area Management Plan (plan completed in 2010)
  • Connecticut – Blue Plan for Long Island Sound

Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Ocean Plan was developed by six states – New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania – along with federal, fishery management council, and tribal partners. The Mid-Atlantic finalized their plan in December 2016.

In addition to the regional plan for federal waters, New York and Connecticut are planning for their state ocean waters:

West Coast

California, Oregon, and Washington, along with tribal, fishery management council, and federal partners, are currently in the early stages of a regional ocean planning effort for federal waters. The West Coast is taking a sub-regional approach to ocean planning, to better meet the diverse needs of their vast planning region.

In addition to the regional plan for federal waters, two of the three West Coast states are planning for their state ocean waters:

  • Washington– Washington State Marine Spatial Planning (Initiated in 2010; first iteration of the plan complete in 2016)
  • Oregon Territorial Sea Plan (Initiated in 1991; planning complete in 1994; review and update of the plan in 2008 and ongoing)

Pacific Islands

The Pacific Islands of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are currently in the early stages of regional ocean planning efforts for federal waters. The Pacific Islands are taking a sub-regional approach to ocean planning, to better meet the diverse needs of their vast region.

Caribbean

A Caribbean Ocean Plan is being developed by the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico along with federal, state, territory, and fishery management council partners.