The West Coast Regional Planning Body held its first official meeting in Portland, Oregon on October 26-27 to discuss next steps for ocean planning off the West Coast. Comprised of government agencies and tribes that manage ocean resources, the Regional Planning Body (RPB) is directed by the National Ocean Policy to advance the "stewardship of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes". Ocean planning is a key element of the policy to ensure that new development in the ocean will avoid impacts to the marine environment and existing uses like recreation.
Ocean Planning off the West Coast will build upon state level planning, including Oregon's Territorial Sea Plan update and Washington's Marine Spatial Planning process. The Surfrider Foundation has been a key stakeholder in both efforts representing coastal recreational users. Surfrider believes that ocean planning is critical to protecting the marine ecosystem as new industries such as aquaculture, renewable energy, and deep sea mining stake their claim to the ocean environment.
Surfrider staff and volunteers attended the RPB meeting in Portland to express support for ocean planning and provide recommendations for how the process should move forward. Surfrider's public testimony focused on the following priorities for West Coast Ocean Planning:
- Protection of the marine ecosystem and recreational opportunities
- Public and stakeholder involvement to ensure a "bottom-up" process
- Use of the best scientific information on ecological areas and human uses
- Planning at the sub-regional scale to ensure meaningful community involvement
Despite support from many different sectors, it is uncertain whether the West Coast process will move forward in the coming years. Federal funding to support regional ocean planning has been very limited, and with the Presidency in transition there are questions as to whether there will be sufficient political support and financial resources to undertake such an effort. Accordingly, it's important for coastal recreational users to express support for the National Ocean Policy to our federal leaders!
To learn more about West Coast Ocean Planning click here
To support the National Ocean Policy, please click here