2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan
The review and update included a comprehensive assessment of progress to date in meeting the requirements established by the Oceans Act and the initial Ocean Plan, as well as extensive public and expert participation efforts. Along with public hearings, six technical work groups made up of nearly 100 scientists and experts were convened to review scientific data and identify and characterize important trends in ocean resources and uses. Two public workshops were held to share information and solicit input on the findings and recommendations of the work groups. In addition, public meetings with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center were held on offshore wind and transmission, and workshops convened by the Coastal Erosion Commission in May and June 2014 served as forums for dialogue and feedback.
On September 24, 2014, a draft plan including the proposed updates was released, launching a 60-day public comment period. Five regional public hearings were held in Ipswich, Hyannis, New Bedford, Vineyard Haven and Boston to solicit feedback. More than 75 organizations and individuals provided written and oral comments on the draft plan. With consensus guidance from the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council, adjustments to the draft ocean plan were deliberated and made.
The 2015 ocean plan released today contains the following updates to the original plan:
- Science and Data - The new plan identifies trends in and new data for ocean habitats and ecosystem components, human uses, economics, cultural and archeological aspects and climate change, as well as a series of 11 science and data priorities for the next five years of ocean plan implementation.
- Offshore Wind Project Transmission - Preliminary transmission corridor routes for further investigation have been identified that address concerns raised by commercial fishing interests and local communities and support “smart” offshore wind development to streamline the process for the wind industry.
- Offshore Sand for Beach Nourishment - Many coastal communities are experiencing severe erosion, flooding and storm damage.
Beach nourishment and dune restoration can offer an important alternative for shoreline protection that works with the natural system. Recognizing this, the 2015 Ocean Plan advances initial planning for appropriate potential locations for offshore sand areas, taking into account important criteria including compatible sand resources, potential environmental impacts, interactions with existing water-dependent uses and consideration of other key factors. The 2015 Ocean Plan also calls for the formation of an Offshore Sand Task Force to provide further consultation and recommendations for the potential use of offshore sand for beach nourishment.
- Ocean Development Mitigation Fee - The plan includes a proposed fee structure and accompanying guidance for the determination of mitigation fees for ocean development projects required by the Oceans Act.