GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS BoatU.S. SPECIAL REPORT BY NICOLE PALYA WOOD
A BLUEPRINT FOR AMERICA’S COASTS?
“Marine spatial planning” will establish ocean-usage guidelines similar to land-use policies
developed after World War II, and still in use today. Will they change the future of boating?
Will marine spatial planning change how the 95,000 miles of U.S. coastal waters are managed in the future?
AFATHER AND HIS YOUNG SON arrive at the local boat ramp to launch their Flying Scot, moving the boy one step closer to earn- ing his Boy Scout sailing merit badge. Across the cove, diesel engines hum as a commercial fisherman slips the last line and swings his trawler’s bow toward the inlet. In the open water
beyond, an engineer in a work skiff peers through the saltwater haze at the gauges on a wind-monitoring buoy, while in a small laboratory near the beach, the ping
of a GPS locator beacon rouses a marine biologist, telling her a whale has returned
to the harbor. It’s 0600 someplace on Cape Cod, but the same scene, or one like it,
happens many times over, every day, along 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline.
Meanwhile, new commercial activities — offshore wind farms, tidal power generators,
floating fish farms, and ever-bigger container vessels and giant cruise ships — are lining up
to stake claims in coastal waters. With colliding uses come opportunities, but also conflicts.
That planning may change how U.S. coastal
waters are managed, and how boaters and
others might be called upon to share their
home waters in the future. On April 16, the
White House released the National Ocean
Policy Implementation Plan. That plan, more
than three years in the making, with roots
well over a decade deep, directs 27 federal
agencies to work more closely as they implement and enforce the more than 100 ocean-related laws on the books, and streamline
federal decisions about coastal and ocean
waters. The plan sets in place nine “
priority objectives,” ranging from implementing
better protection for coastal water quality,
to improving data collection and mapping
for decision-making, to anticipating changing conditions in the warming Arctic. Chief
AUGUST | SEPTEMBER 2013