Ocean permitting and management involves multiple overlapping jurisdictions and highly interconnected ecosystems that make decision-making particularly complex. New proposals for the development and siting of offshore wind farms, liquified natural gas terminals, electrical transmission lines, aquaculture, and sand mining along with ongoing management of the marine transportation system, fisheries, and the multitude of recreational activities have made these complexities particularly apparent in the past two decades.
The Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), a voluntary partnership between the New England states and the federal agencies, was established in 2005 to coordinate on regional coastal and ocean management issues. Through its Ocean Planning Committee, which was expanded to include Native American Tribes and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), NROC has been informing ocean management by developing best practices and data to assist in navigating these complex and varied processes. 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 themes (1) Stakeholder engagement, (2) Agency and interjurisdictional coordination, (3) the Use of data and information, and (4) Regulatory pre-application practices.