‘The Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University has a unique focus on the interactions between humans and the coastal and ocean environment, and sustainable and resilient coastal development in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic region. Monmouth County and the New Jersey-New York region is an ideal “laboratory” for study of these issues. We focus our efforts on how science can inform public policy and the “human dimensions” of coastal and ocean ecosystem-based management, including the impacts of human use and development. We seek to foster dialog among citizens, community organizations, governmental agencies, business, the scientific community, and other parties interested in conservation, and restoration, and the enhancing the quality of life for future generations. Ocean and coastal systems are complex, and the management responsibilities are fractured among many different federal, state and local entities. Applying the best science and information, and collaboration among all interest groups is critical to making sound management decisions.
That is why we believe that comprehensive ocean planning based on extensive stakeholder and public engagement is an important tool in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic region. This region is home to some of the nation’s largest ports and most productive fisheries, while also supporting recreation and tourism that depends on healthy ecosystems. Proposals to develop extensive winds farms is just one example of potential new uses that need to be considered. Ocean planning that brings federal and state agencies together with scientists, stakeholders, and other interests groups to the table provides a forum to have an informed dialog on how to manage our shared ocean resources. The Urban Coast Institute is helping to support these efforts as the Principal Investigator for the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal Project, which provides the foundational data, information and mapping of ocean resources and human use activities that will inform development of a science-based Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Plan. The Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal is an interactive mapping site and online toolkit that enables state, federal and local agencies as well as the general public to visualize and analyze ocean resources and human use information such as fishing grounds, recreational areas, shipping lanes, habitat areas and energy sites, among many others. By understanding what is happening in the ocean, we can more effectively work together to sustain the values and resources that matter most to all of us.’