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Ocean Planning in the Northeast

Website for the Northeast Regional Planning Body About

Northeast Regional Planning Body

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) is responsible for developing New England’s ocean plan. The National Ocean Policy, established by Presidential Executive Order in 2010, called for the formation of nine regionally focused RPBs to better manage the nation’s oceans and coasts. New England was the first region in the nation to respond to this call, launching the Northeast RPB in November 2012. More…

The Northeast RPB includes representatives from the six New England states, ten federally recognized tribes, ten federal agencies, and the New England Fishery Management Council. The RPB has no authority to create new regulations. Its mandate is to create a plan and oversee its implementation, with many opportunities for public participation.

Process and Participation

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) oversees three distinct activities—data gathering/sector engagement, agency coordination, and communications and outreach. Northeast RPB work groups, as well as a team of people working on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal, support each activity. There are opportunities for stakeholder and technical input at every level of the process—see the Get Involved page for more information on how to get involved. More…

Guiding Principles

Ocean planning in the Northeast follows these principles:

Meaningful public participation. Reflect the knowledge, perspectives, and needs of ocean stakeholders—fishermen; scientists; boaters; environmental groups; leaders in the shipping, ports, and energy industries; and all New Englanders whose lives are touched by the ocean.

Sound science. Use accurate, up-to-date data and information, from traditional knowledge to innovative mapping technologies.More…

A comprehensive, ecosystem-based approach. Consider the “big picture” of ecological, economic, cultural, and other needs in our region.

Transparent, efficient government decision-making. Reduce duplication and inefficiency in decision-making, and coordinate among agencies and governments based on a common vision, common information sources, and clear decision-making processes.

Adaptive management. Update decisions as we learn more about patterns of ocean uses, and as environmental, social, and economic conditions change. Less…

What is Ocean Planning?

The ocean and the livelihoods it supports are vital to New England. People in New England greatly value our ocean heritage and are seeking basic needs from the ocean—jobs, food, energy, and recreation, among others—in new and increasingly complex ways. At the same time, environmental changes are affecting the health of the ocean and its creatures.

Ocean planning is a way to meet these challenges. Government agencies and stakeholders can work together to anticipate needs, set priorities, and make decisions from a regional perspective.

The result? Better, more efficient decisions, with more public input, about how to protect New England’s oceans and sustainably use its resources.

Download the Ocean Planning Trifold Brochure (PDF) (2pp, 587k).

Goals & Objectives

After receiving input from the public, the Northeast Regional Planning Body approved goals and objectives for the region’s ocean plan. The Framework for Ocean Planning in the Northeastern United States (PFD) (33pp, 791K) specifies these goals and objectives along with actions, outcomes, tasks, and timelines.

Goal: Healthy Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems

  • Characterize the region’s ecosystem, economy, and cultural resources.
  • Identify and support existing non-regulatory opportunities to work toward conserving, restoring, and maintaining healthy ecosystems.
  • Produce a regional ocean science plan that prioritizes ocean science and data needs for the region for the next five years.

Goal: Effective Decision-Making

  • Coordinate existing federal and state decision-making processes.
  • Implement specific actions to enhance public input in decision-making.
  • Incorporate maps and other products into agency decision-making processes.
  • Improve respect for the customs and traditions of indigenous peoples in decision-making processes.
  • Improve coordination with local communities in decision-making processes.

Goal: Compatibility Among Past, Current, and Future Ocean Uses

  • Increase understanding of past, current, and future interactions among ocean uses and the ocean and coastal ecosystem.
  • Ensure that regional issues are incorporated in ongoing efforts to assess new and existing human activities.

All Goals

  • Periodically assess progress toward achieving regional ocean planning goals

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Northeast RPB News

November 15 Northeast RPB Data Workshop Remote Access Webinar Available

November 14, 2017— Webinar available for remote access to November 15 RPB Data Workshop.


Ocean Planning Timeline

  • November 2012 Inaugural Northeast RPB Meeting: Develop common understanding about the RPB; provide context and lay foundation of regional ocean planning; engage stakeholders and the public, discuss initial focus.
    April 2013 Northeast RPB Meeting: Northeast RPB Meeting: Identify draft goals for regional ocean planning and mechanisms for receiving public input about those draft goals; provide opportunities for public input about topics under consideration.
    May/June 2013 Public Comment Meetings: Ten public meetings throughout New England to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals.
  • January Northeast RPB Meeting: approve goals and objectives; move forward on related tasks.
    May/June Public Engagement: Natural Resources Workshops and focused engagement to discuss progress toward goals of effective Decision-Making and Healthy Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems.
    June Northeast RPB Meeting: Review progress toward all goals.
    Fall Public meetings/workshops and Northeast RPB meeting: Feedback on progress toward each goal.
  • Spring Stakeholder Forum: Review progress on the use of marine life and ocean use data, regulatory coordination, and future scenario development.
    June Northeast RPB Meeting: Review approach to developing draft plan by considering agency use of ocean plan data products; discuss draft outline for regional ocean plan.
    Fall Northeast RPB meeting and public meetings: Review revised products for each goal; discuss future work of the RPB.
  • Winter EBM Working Group: Review progress on Draft Northeast Ocean Plan, marine life and habitat data product development, including IEAs Framework.
    Spring Northeast RPB Meeting (via webinar): Release Draft Plan for public review.
    Summer Collect public comment on the Draft Plan through public meetings and other opportunities.
    Fall September public webinar to review changes to the Draft Plan and October submittal of revised Plan to the National Ocean Council.
  • Winter Northeast RPB members and federal principals of the National Ocean Council sign Plan Adoption Memo.
    Spring See Events and Meetings
    April Informational webinar to prepare for stakeholder forum.
    May Stakeholder forum and RPB public meeting.

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