Tool Reduces Ocean Conflicts

The Takeaway: Offering a cohesive approach to offshore management, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan aids industries connected to offshore energy, tourism, undersea cables, and marine traffic.

The Mid-Atlantic annually generates $2 trillion, or 14 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, through activities that include commercial and recreational fishing; transportation; renewable energy production; telecommunications; science and research; and tourism. The region also represents a microcosm of coastal uses in every region. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan brought together stakeholders from these six states to create an interconnected offshore management approach. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management was, and continues to be, a key participant and leader.

Data, tools, and training from NOAA Digital Coast were used to develop the effort’s information hub, the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal (3,000 data layers!). A particularly popular section is the Mid-Atlantic Marine Planner tool, which allows users to easily “see” potential ocean use conflicts, such as

  • Offshore energy. The tool was used to determine the best areas for offshore wind turbines. As a result, 1,780 ocean acres were removed from the original New York Wind Energy Area proposal.
  • Tourism. The Surfrider Foundation used it to map 22,000 data points from a survey of 1,500 beachgoers. The resulting map is being used to build bridges among different ocean users and make a robust economic case for protecting the coast. (Survey respondents spent an average of more than $70 per person per day on recreation.)
  • Undersea cables. Atlantic undersea cables used to stream information to TVs and computers are sometimes jeopardized by trawl nets or vessel anchoring—but with this tool, the two commercial sectors can better spot and minimize potential ocean conflicts.
  • Marine traffic. The U.S. Coast Guard’s marine traffic data is featured on the planner and is used to help various parties (passenger ships, agencies protecting marine mammals, tanker operators, and others) spot and communicate potential conflicts and hazards.

This tool is an outgrowth of NOAA’s partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. (2018)

More Information: Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan

Partners: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Defense