Marine Spatial Planning

Marine spatial planning is an important topic right now. An executive order has highlighted the importance of planning how we will use our oceans and great lakes as a resource. This means a regions waters will be analyzed for current and anticipated uses such as wind farms, fishing, drilling etc. The country has been divided into 9 regional planning areas, with each region being responsible to create a coastal and marine spatial plan for their waters.

A great example of the success of Marine Spatial planning can be found in Massachusetts with shipping lanes being changed for endangered Right Whales, resulting in an app that tracks Right Whales so ships and recreational boaters can avoid hitting them. Read the article:  A Success in Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, Shipping Lane Shift Helps Mariners Steer Clear of Whales.

The Northeast Regional Ocean Council will help the regional planning body, along with SeaPlan, a non profit experienced in marine spatial planning. This summer, SeaPlan is running a survey for recreational boaters to see how they use the water, and how they impact the economy. As stakeholders in this resource, recreational boaters are a key component to marine spatial planning. Now is the time to share where you boat, and what you purchase, so that your uses of waterways and economic impact will be considered in plans for future use of our oceans and coasts.

So how do you get involved? This May, 68,000 boat owners in the Northeast (ME, NH, MA, RI, CT and NY) will receive invitations to participate in a survey. Any registered boat owner may get this mail, so please be on the lookout. Each month researchers will ask boaters to log onto a mapping website where they can draw their last boating trip on an interactive navigation chart and include information about fishing, wildlife viewing or other activities they did during their trip. Boaters will also be asked how much money they spent on various boating related activities so economists can determine the overall contribution of recreational boating to state and regional economies. Additionally if you do not receive this invitation, you can still participate, by submitting your information using a volunteer version of the mapping software at

What is the reward? By participating in the survey you will ensure that recreational boaters are spoken for in the implementation plan for your waters. However if you need more convincing sponsors have provided incentive prizes for participants, including a grand prize drawing of $5,000!

What if I don’t live in the New England area? Visit NOAA’s website on Coastal and Marine Spatial planning to find a more information about your regions governing body, and upcoming events. Click here for a map that outlines each region highlighted and links to the governing bodies.

If you have any questions or thoughts please share them below, we will do our best to get your questions answered.