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Archived on January 3, 2018

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Ocean Planning in the Northeast

Website for the Northeast Regional Planning Body Northeast RPB Projects Aquaculture


Many species of shellfish and finfish are commercially raised in the Northeast. Shellfish production (in both northern and southern New England) and finfish production (mainly in northern New England) have an estimated total value of over $100 million and are important to the economies of many coastal communities. While traditionally most aquaculture operations take place in nearshore environments, in recent years there has been increasing interest in siting aquaculture operations farther offshore. Understanding the current and potential future issues related to aquaculture production in New England is an important aspect of regional ocean planning.

What’s Been Done

Three aquaculture working sessions in New England were held in December 2012. The purpose of these sessions was to learn more about key aquaculture issues, anticipated changes in coming years, and the potential role of regional ocean planning to address issues and opportunities. The working sessions focused on several key topics: permitting and leasing, current and future space needs, compatibility of aquaculture with other ocean uses, and data about existing aquaculture sites and leases.

Summaries from these working sessions (PDF) (23pp, 618K) are available. Drawing on these conversations and other existing information, an aquaculture expert prepared a white paper summarizing the state of aquaculture in New England (PDF) (18pp, 783K).

Key Highlights/Takeaways

  • Permitting and leasing are challenging for growers, though recent improvements in nearshore projects in some states may provide helpful lessons learned for offshore aquaculture.
  • Regional ocean planning may have a clearer role in federal waters, since leasing and permitting programs already exist in state waters and there is increasing interest in siting aquaculture farther offshore.
  • Documenting existing uses of New England waters for aquaculture could be helpful in demonstrating the extent of the industry and avoiding potential future conflicts. However, privacy concerns and the difficulty of keeping information about the industry current will be significant challenges.
  • Regional baseline data could help growers understand where aquaculture may appropriate, but there will always be a need to consider specific siting issues.

What’s Next

  • Ocean planning staff are working with the states and local agencies to develop more accurate data characterizing aquaculture’s use of ocean waters in the Northeast.


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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