Ocean Planning in the Northeast

Website for the Northeast Regional Planning Body Get Involved

Recent & Upcoming Events

Ocean Plan Update Webinar

On September 28, 2016, from 1:30pm to 3:00pm, the Northeast RPB hosted a webinar in order to provide an overview of revisions to the draft plan and the general schedule for the remainder of 2016.

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Draft Plan Public Release Webinar & Comment Meetings

The RPB convened a webinar to announce the release of the Draft Northeast Ocean Plan on May 25th, 2016. Following the Draft Plan’s release, the RPB hosted a series of public comment meetings throughout New England.

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Public Participation in Ocean Planning

The Northeast RPB has committed to a transparent, open approach to regional ocean planning that engages the public and focuses on stakeholder involvement at key decision points. The vehicles and activities for involving stakeholders will evolve as the RPB works to meet this commitment and the needs of interested parties.

 Formal input and participation in the work of the Northeast RPB More…

There are several opportunities for direct input and participation in Northeast RPB deliberations:

  • Public input at Northeast RPB meetings: At its formal meetings, the RPB has ensured time for public comment as specific topics are discussed. RPB meetings are scheduled by considering other existing meetings to avoid potential conflicts and maximize attendance. The RPB also accepts written comments, and such correspondence is made available to the entire RPB and posted online. The RPB has adjusted the way it conducts its meetings in response to public input and will continue to seek input to ensure that its formal meetings are appropriately conducted.
  • Public meetings at key decision points: During the drafting of regional ocean planning goals and objectives, the RPB held a series of ten public meetings (at least one in each New England state) to enable participation in the critical step of goal-setting. These meetings were less formal than RPB meetings, allowing for more direct interaction with individual RPB members. The RPB will conduct such meetings in the future at critical decision points in the ocean planning process (see below for information on Upcoming Events and Past Meetings; materials are also posted online).
  • Input through state advisory entities:  RPB state members are using existing advisory entities to provide input into the regional planning process. For example:
    • The Massachusetts Ocean Advisory Commission (formally set up as part of the MA Ocean Management Plan process, pursuant to the MA Oceans Act) and the stakeholder advisory panel for the Rhode Island Special Area Management Plan receive updates and discuss regional ocean planning periodically.
    • New Hampshire’s Port Advisory Committee and Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee periodically have regional planning updates and discussions.
    • In Maine, Northeast RPB members have organized an advisory group to discuss regional ocean planning.
    • In Connecticut, existing forums are also being used, such as the state’s Maritime Commission.
  • Input online: The Northeast RPB also solicits public input through its website. For example, preliminary draft goals and actions (discussed during the May-June 2013 public meetings) were posted online with an online comment form.

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 Project-specific engagement More…

Engagement is a key aspect of many individual projects, providing opportunities to discuss important ocean planning details. Examples include:

  • Commercial fisheries mapping: This project has included more than 50 meetings to date with commercial fishermen, scientists, and managers throughout New England. The approach will continue to be using existing meetings wherever possible (New England Fishery Management Council, state advisory boards, fishing sector meetings, state-specific association meetings, etc.) The purpose of these meetings is to review draft products related to commercial fishing (e.g., approaches to depicting the activity of certain fisheries), identify concerns, and discuss ocean planning issues overall. Future phases of the mapping effort will continue these types of interactions.Work to date has focused on the charter/for-hire portion of the fishery in New England. Future efforts will focus on identifying and implementing projects to appropriately depict recreational fishing activity. The approach would be to engage members of the recreational fishery in scoping and implementing any such project, potentially through partnership with the New England states and SeaPlan.
  • Recreational boating survey: In partnership with SeaPlan, this project was designed and implemented with the recreational boating industry (such as Marine Trades Associations and other such organizations in each state). Thousands of boaters in the region participated in the survey that resulted in important products and key feedback for ocean planning.  A series of workshops was held in April 2013 in New England states to review draft survey results and discuss regional ocean planning. Further engagement with the industry will build upon this work.

    Building on this work, in winter 2015, the RPB launched a project to characterize multiple recreational activities in the Northeast, gathering data about where, when, and how people recreate along the coast and in the ocean. Along with input from industry experts (operators and event organizers), stakeholder groups, and an RPB project steering committee, this study is being led by a project team that includes Point 97, SeaPlan, and the Surfrider Foundation.

  • Engagement of maritime commerce, energy, and aquaculture sectors:  A series of work sessions was held with New England representatives of these three economic sectors in December 2012. The sessions followed an extensive effort to engage these industries, including  39 individual interviews to help frame engagement. The work sessions, attended by more than 150 people, were designed to discuss regional ocean planning issues and to help develop information characterizing the industries (maps and related data).
  • Natural resources characterization:  Through a series of meetings with environmental nongovernmental organizations in each New England state, the environmental advocacy community has been engaged to discuss potential issues for regional ocean planning to address. Additionally, on a parallel timeline, marine scientists in the region are being engaged to identify potential data related to natural resources, and to provide guidance on potential map products depicting natural resource distribution and abundance.Next steps for this work, will include regional workshops bringing resource scientists, environmental organizations, and other interested parties together to discuss potential methodologies for product development.
  • Other recreation interests: Through a partnership with Surfrider, other recreational interests beyond boating were engaged throughout the last six months of 2013. This effort had two main purposes: first, to reach out to recreational interests (dive clubs, wildlife viewing, non-motorized boating clubs, and others) to provide information on the regional ocean planning effort and opportunities to be engaged; and second, to explore potential project ideas for obtaining potential additional information related to these interests (e.g., mapping areas of importance). Next steps for this work include scoping and implementing specific project(s) to better characterize recreational activity. Recreational fishing will be the focus of additional work as well (see ”Commercial fisheries mapping” above).

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 Other communications tools More…

For general communication, the Northeast RPB uses its website and email list of interested parties as additional vehicles to inform the public of progress, products, upcoming events, and other news. Contractor support through ERG is used to ensure that website content is up to date and timely. The Northeast RPB is also developing a series of fact sheets describing specific projects and the ocean planning effort overall to hand out at meetings and events. These outreach efforts are informed by an overall communications strategy that includes the rationale, intended audience, and focus for each communications vehicle. This strategy also enables the Northeast RPB and ocean planning staff to periodically assess its success, and the success of specific communications vehicles, in meeting the overall goal for an open, transparent process (see “Formal input and participation in the work of the Northeast RPB”).

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Past Meetings

Browse through past events, meetings, and workshops.

January EBM Working Group Meeting

The second meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Management Working Group was held on January 6, 2016, in Providence, RI.

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November 2015 RPB Meeting

The most recent RPB Meeting was held on November 16-17, 2015, at the Westin Portland Harborview in Portland, ME.

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Stakeholder Forum

Prior to its next formal meeting, the Northeast RPB hosted a Stakeholder Forum on October 20, 2015, at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.

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Inaugural Ecosystem-Based Management Working Group Meeting

The first meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Management Working Group was held be September 30th in Portsmouth, NH.

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June 2015 RPB Meeting

The sixth Northeast RPB Meeting took place on June 3-4 in Mystic, CT.
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Stakeholder Forum

Prior to the June 2015 RPB Meeting, the RPB held a stakeholder forum on May 12, 2015.

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Ecosystem-Based Management Workshop

Prior to the June 2015 RPB Meeting, the RPB held an ecosystem-based management workshop on April 8, 2015.

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Fall 2014 Public Meeting Series

In advance of the November 2014 RPB Meeting, the RPB hosted a series of public meetings throughout the region.

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November 13-14, 2014 RPB Meeting

The fifth Northeast RPB Meeting took place on November 13-14, 2014 in New Castle, NH (near Portsmouth).

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August 27, 2014 Marine Characterization Webinar

The RPB hosted a public webinar on to provide updates about the Marine Life Characterization project.

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June 25-26, 2014 Natural Resources Workshop and RPB Meeting

A Northeast Regional Planning Body (NE RPB) Natural Resources Public Workshop and fourth NE RPB meeting took place on June 25-26, 2014 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

More about the Natural Resources Workshop…
More about the June 2014 RPB Meeting…

January 22-23, 2014 RPB Meeting

The third Northeast Regional Planning Body meeting was held on Wednesday and Thursday, January 22-23, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge located at 575 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The purpose of this meeting was to review and approve principles, goals, and objectives for regional planning in the Northeast, and to move forward with related projects.

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April 11-12, 2013 RPB Meeting

The second Northeast RPB meeting was held on April 11-12, 2013 at the Village Inn in Narragansett, RI.

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November 19-20, 2012 Inaugural RPB Meeting

The inaugural Northeast RPB meeting was held on November 19-20, 2012, in Portland, Maine.

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Northeast RPB News

New Northeast RPB Co-Leads

February 21, 2017—The RPB has new federal and state co-leads

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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.

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