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December 8, 2016

Northeast Ocean Plan gets nod from six New England states, others

Photo / Lori Valigra
Photo / Lori Valigra
A plan to keep the North Atlantic's ocean and its resources healthy was certified Tuesday. Here, well-known Maine landmark Star Point rock in Salisbury Cove, Bar Harbor, was once used by seamen to navigate the rocky Atlantic coast.

A plan four years in the making to keep the ocean and coastal ecosystem healthy using better regional ocean information to guide and inform decisions under existing authorities was certified Tuesday by all New England states, six tribes, federal agencies and other stakeholders.

The Northeast Regional Planning Body formed in 2012 under an executive order from President Obama certified the plan on Wednesday. The plan also would use best practices to identify potential conflicts between ocean uses and inform mitigation of negative impacts on marine life and habitat, according to a news release.

The plan also has the first National Ocean Council certification of the first plan in the nation for New England's ocean.

"This plan will guide federal agency actions in the future to achieve the region's goals for the ocean and its resources," Betsy Nicholson, federal co-leader for the planning body and north regional director of the Office for Coastal Management at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement.

Nongovernment ocean stakeholders also had a critical role in developing the plan.

"As the voice for commercial lobstermen and other fishing sectors, the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association and its 1,800 members who hail from New England region have recognized the value of the effort and engagement that went into development of the Northeast Ocean Plan," said Beth Casoni, executive director for the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association. "The commitments and actions in the plan represent a new way of doing business for ocean management, and we look forward to its implementation."

The final version of the plan is available on the RPB website. The Northeast RPB consists of representatives from all six New England states, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies.

The six federally recognized tribes that participated were the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, Mohegan Indian Tribe of Connecticut, Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island and Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).

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