Integrated Ocean Management in the United States

Integrated Ocean Management in the United States

This week, I am excited to be a part of the official launch of Blue Paper 14: Integrated Ocean Management by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. The report outlines six opportunities to improve ocean governance around the world, including the importance of local context in decision making, the value of transparency and the necessity of robust community engagement—all principles Ocean Conservancy has championed for over a decade. As a co-author, I will highlight these actions during the panel and outline the United States’ approach to integrated ocean management.

The world’s oceans are facing an era of unprecedented activity from energy facilities, diverse recreational uses, shipping superhighways, sand mining and commercial fishing, all of which compete for limited space in ocean ecosystems that are shifting and facing increasing pressure from climate change.

To help alleviate the climate pressure, decision makers globally have turned to offshore wind energy to help mitigate its impacts. In the United States, offshore wind energy is growing exponentially, boasting fifteen active commercial leases in federal waters as of January 2020. With development targeted at mitigation, the challenge, of course, is to address climate change while safeguarding habitat and coastal communities.

Integrated ocean management provides a strong framework to address this challenge, identifying tradeoffs as we work to balance a sustainable ocean economy that includes wind energy and commercial fishing with that of marine life and life-sustaining complex ecosystem services.

This integrated ocean management approach allows scientists and ocean users to more easily share information recognizing that scientifically informed management that provides economic value and advances conservation goals depends on the expertise that only those who live and work in those communities can provide.

We also recognize that there are institutional and technical challenges that come with making ocean data and information available, current and timely. Of course, such information sharing also requires trust and understanding from all parties. Beyond ocean and coastal management, there is benefit to making ocean data publicly available so that everyone from the CEO who wants see how her business decision may impact ocean spaces, to the surfer seeking the best waves has access.  Recognizing these needs, Ocean Conservancy has championed transparency in management decisions while working to solve the institutional and technical challenges of ocean and coastal data access.

While the term “integrated ocean management” may be new to you, you are likely familiar with its principles. For more than ten years, many of you have helped Ocean Conservancy advocate for ocean planning.

We have established core principles that put local context at the center of decision making, encourage robust engagement with those who depend on the ocean and increase data access and transparency for all.

This week I am excited to have the opportunity to talk about the important work that often occurs behind the scenes, polices and principles that Ocean Conservancy has pushed forward for more than a decade. It is not the research that happens to help us better understand our ocean or the work in coastal towns around the country, making each local economy unique. It is the work that helps us make better management decisions so we can have information about: What infrastructure projects should our community approve to be more resilient to sea level rise? Where do important fish habitats exist so as to limit development impacts? Should marine transportation lanes move seasonally to limit overlap with whale migration routes?  What areas are best suited for offshore wind?

Being good stewards of one of our greatest natural resources has united different and sometimes opposing industries, secured federal and state policy wins, increased the value we put in honest dialogue and maintained the health of our ocean. We have celebrated the approval of two regional ocean plans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and numerous other success stories.

Ocean Conservancy is excited to share our experience on this webinar and continue to serve on the Advisory Network.

The launch of Blue Paper 14: Integrated Ocean Management gives us the chance to discuss the important work that often occurs behind the scenes to make ocean planning a success. Ocean Conservancy is a co-author of the report and also serves on the High Level Panel Advisory Network.

For more on integrated ocean management and the progress you helped Ocean Conservancy achieve these last ten years, please join me on May 20, 2020 by registering here.


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