July 06 2016
The Surfrider Foundation applauds the recent release of the Draft Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan, which is now open for a 60-day public comment period, as a key milestone in advancing our National Ocean Policy. However, the Surfrider Foundation believes that the plan needs to be further strengthened to identify ecologically significant areas of the ocean and provide measures to ensure that those areas will not be negatively impacted by current or future development.
“The Draft Plan is a wonderful step towards better management of our ocean,” said Pete Stauffer, Surfrider Foundation’s Environmental Director. “However, the final plan must include stronger actions to protect the most ecologically important areas of the ocean. If we cannot safeguard these areas, we run the risk of losing their intrinsic value as well as the economic benefits that result from coastal recreation and tourism.”
Surfrider strongly supports many of the components in the Draft Plan, including the commitments by state and federal agencies to:
1). Use the extensive scientific data now available on the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal when making permitting decisions;
2). Convene all relevant stakeholders together as early as possible when permitting large offshore projects such as wind farms; and
3). Identify priority recreation areas and develop strategies to protect them.
In 2010, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) was authorized as part of the National Ocean Policy, an executive order based on the bipartisan recommendations of the U.S. Ocean Commission, to improve management of the nation’s oceans and coastal resources.
The Draft Plan was created over a three-year period by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body, whose membership consists of federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, and representatives from states in the region. The process has benefitted from extensive public involvement including input from thousands of ocean stakeholders.
Surfrider Foundation’s goal in ocean planning is to protect special places along our coasts and ensure that future development of the ocean will minimize impacts to the marine environment and recreational uses. Surfrider represents the interests of non-consumptive recreational users such as wildlife viewers, divers, surfers, and beach goers in the public process. In 2014, Surfrider completed a study on coastal recreation in the Mid-Atlantic region. Data from the study can be accessed online in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal.
Surfrider encourages members of the public to review and provide comments on the Draft Ocean Plan. More information on how to do so can be found at: http://www.boem.gov/Ocean-Action-Plan.
Learn more about ocean planning and Surfrider’s work to protect healthy ocean ecosystems and the communities who depend on them at: http://www.surfrider.org/priority-campaigns/protect-special-places.
ABOUT SURFRIDER FOUNDATION
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. Learn more at www.surfrider.org.