The way we use the ocean is changing and expanding rapidly.
More than half of all Americans live in coastal areas. These areas are home to thriving maritime economies, vibrant coastal cities, and breathtaking seascapes. The ocean is woven into the fabric of our communities, providing a source of income, food, stability and, for many, a connection to our past. For many millions more, the ocean is a place of inspiration, natural beauty and wonder.
The way we use the ocean is dynamic and expanding rapidly. Massive commercial ships ply shipping superhighways, with new shipping and port infrastructure needed to support them. Bold new plans for offshore energy projects are quickly becoming reality. Longtime commercial fisheries are trying to adapt to shifting ocean conditions. And these are just a few examples.
Ocean planning helps us make better informed, smarter decisions.
Ocean planning is a science-based and data-driven process that provides a tool for people and government to cooperatively solve problems in a way that works better for everyone. Rather than creating a new set of laws, ocean planning provides information and cross-sector engagement that can help identify and resolve potential conflicts early, helping decision makers in the private and public sectors to do their jobs better. That creates better outcomes for everyone, supporting a healthy ocean and vibrant economy.
How does it work? Ocean planning collects the best available science and data to more accurately understand what’s happening in the ocean, and to identify areas of ecological, commercial and recreational importance. It brings together multiple government agencies and a broad range of community and business stakeholders on a voluntary basis to more effectively share information on current and planned uses of ocean resources. By creating a common place where the best information and the right people can come together, ocean planning allows decision makers to more rationally coordinate multiple management objectives, and ultimately, make smarter decisions for the economy, our communities, and the environment.
For more information, see:
- Regional Ocean Plans – Ocean Planning in the United States
- UNESCO – Marine Spatial Planning Initiative
- OpenChannels – Marine Spatial Planning Evaluation Guide