The Importance of Marine Planning and Plotting your Destination

Blog series logo

The Importance of Marine Planning

When the National Ocean Council suggested Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning as a tool to achieve the National Ocean Policy, many were excited for a more integrated approach to coastal decision making. This decision was based on hundreds of published reports and articles stating the benefits of coastal and marine planning and the need for its implementation in the United States. While these articles and reports certainly tell us why we should use more integrated planning, very few tell us how this actually works, and what the process actually is.

In 2013, Battelle Memorial Institute, with advice from the Coastal States Organization and a Steering Committee of experts, with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, began training U.S. coastal managers in coastal and marine planning and began building a peer-to-peer network. The main objective of this project is to increase the capacity of coastal managers and advance their commitment to coastal and marine planning across the United States. Be sure to visit our list of recommended reading here on OpenChannels for ‘how to’ guidance.

Designing the course, we reached out to dozens of coastal experts, and reviewed hundreds of reports, management plans, and papers to determine what worked and what didn’t work in coastal and marine planning around the country and around the world. Working with an instructional designer, we combined technical information with adult learning principles (and plenty of fun!) to provide a high-quality training program that would measurably improve the skills needed for CMSP.

After several very successful courses (with more than 95% approval ratings), and two national surveys, we’ve learned a lot about the challenges facing coastal managers in the United States. See our website to read our surveys results. We also learned that people want to share and hear about coastal and marine planning efforts around the country and not just in the Northeast.

To date, we’ve trained nearly 200 coastal decision makers in coastal and marine planning, in 7 of the National Ocean Policy planning regions, representing 27 of the 35 coastal states, commonwealths, and territories, and each person has a story to tell about the challenges and success they have seen on the front lines of coastal management. It’s time to start hearing some different accents in the coastal manager community.

To support this new wave of coastal and marine planning experts, we are launching this blog series. “A New Wave” will highlight new voices, proving that integrated decision making is happening, and is helpful, around the country. We’ll hear from Directors, Data Managers, and in-the-trenches coastal decision makers, to name a few, about the issues they face, their lessons learned, and their success stories. We’ll also pose questions for you to answer in the comment sections below each blog to get your perspective.

We hope that you’ll join us during this series, and we hope you’ll learn from this new wave of leaders! In the comment section below, let us know where you want to hear from!

Working with our new partner, the Duke Environmental Leadership (DEL) Program, we are busy planning our next CSMP in-person events and working with our online participants. To learn more, contact us through our website at

In our first post of A New Wave, we’ll hear from Aurora Justiniano at the Caribbean Regional Ocean Partnership.

The CMSP-AT course features watercolor artwork in its online course handbook and in-person training handbook.