October 23, 2020
Below, the NROC Ocean Planning Committee provides and update on activities, including upcoming opportunities to participate and provide input.
Aquaculture Opportunity Areas Webinar — October 26, 2:00-3:30 ET
As previously announced, the NROC OPC will be hosting a webinar to provide an overview on the selection process for Aquaculture Opportunity Areas under the recent federal Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. For more information, including an agenda, and to register for the webinar, please visit this link on the Northeast Ocean Planning website.
Updates on Current NROC Ocean Planning Activities
Offshore Wind Transmission
The NROC OPC is currently developing a series of webinars intended to increase understanding about issues related to bringing new energy sources from offshore wind development into the electric grid. This will likely consist of three short webinars occurring over a 6- to 8-week time period starting in early 2021. More information will be available shortly.
Best Practices for Ocean Permitting and Management
Over the summer, the NROC OPC reconvened its Best Practices Work Group to continue identifying best practices for ocean permitting and management. “Best practices” in this context are specific activities that can be implemented in ocean permitting and management processes that enhance one or more of the following four aspects of the process: (1) stakeholder engagement, (2) agency and interjurisdictional coordination, (3) the use of data and information, and (4) regulatory pre-application practices. The “use of data and information” theme corresponds to Goal 1.3 of the “Recommendations for Increasing the Efficiency of Permitting for Ocean Exploration, Mapping, and Research Activities” issued by the Ocean Resource Management Subcommittee of the federal interagency Ocean Policy Committee and thereby provides NROC with an opportunity to inform similar considerations at the federal level while focusing on priorities, case studies, and implementation steps that are specific to the Northeast.
Offshore Wind and Wildlife Data Workshop
NROC, along with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS), and the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), recently hosted a virtual workshop to improve clarity and understanding around the roles of data and information platforms and the range of marine wildlife and habitat data that are and will be collected as a result of proposed offshore wind development over the next several years.
Marine Wildlife Data Product Development
NROC will be once again partnering with MARCO to collaborate on the use of each region’s Regional Data Sharing funding, a federal appropriation administered by NOAA to nine regions throughout the United States. This year, NROC and MARCO will be using the funding to update marine wildlife data products hosted by the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portals. This will include the re-establishment of expert work groups to inform development and review of the data products that will be determined based on NROC and MARCO priorities.
New Blue Carbon Data and Coastal Vegetation Updates
The U.S. EPA has provided funding to update coastal vegetation data and develop new blue carbon data products for the Northeast Ocean Data Portal. EPA Region 1 is convening and leading coastal vegetation expert work group meetings to compile data sources and inform methods that the Portal team will help visualize and implement. The project will result in updated eelgrass and salt marsh habitat data products as well as characterizations of carbon accumulation and sequestration in these habitats to be released next year.
Announcements from the NROC OPC about the Northeast Ocean Data Portal
- Now that the EPA has finalized the designation of Isles of Shoals North Dredged Material Disposal Site, the Northeast Ocean Data Portal released a revised data layer with the location of the site and all appropriate documentation.
- Other recent data updates and other information about Northeast Ocean Data Portal activities can be found via the Portal’s quarterly newsletter. This includes information about the following data updates:
- Estimated shear stress from waves and currents on the seabed,
- New maps showing potential Atlantic coast shipping fairways under consideration by the U.S. Coast Guard,
- Updates to BOEM’s active renewable energy leases and wind planning areas,
- A new page that summarizes the status of active offshore renewable energy lease areas and offshore wind projects, and
- Monthly and annual vessel traffic data for 2018 and 2019 from the automatic identification system.