One of the most significant pieces of legislation that we passed in the 2007-8 session was the Oceans Act, which contemplates a science based planning process for the waters along the Massachusetts coast. The Oceans Advisory Commission is seeking input on a draft plan.
See the note below from Rep. Frank Smizik and Sen. Robert O’Leary, the legislative members of that Commission. Let me know if you are a constituent of mine and make comments, so that I can look for ways to support your concerns.
As members of the Ocean Advisory Commission, it is our pleasure to provide you with links to a copy of Massachusetts’ draft ocean management plan, which was released today by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The draft plan represents the culmination of almost a year’s worth of diligent work by staff at various administrative agencies to synthesize hours of stakeholder input and reams of scientific data.
The Oceans Act of 2008 requires the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to create a comprehensive ocean management plan for Massachusetts’ coastal waters by December 2009. According to the Act, the ocean plan is to develop a baseline assessment of Massachusetts’ ocean resources along with siting standards and locations for various uses, including renewable energy, that are deemed to be allowable uses by the Act. At the same time, the plan must “identify and protect special, sensitive or unique estuarine and marine life”, respect the importance of the commercial fishing industry to the Commonwealth, and “preserve and enhance public access” to the ocean. In addition to administrative agency staff, the Ocean Advisory Commission and the Ocean Science Advisory Council were both established by the Act to assist the Secretary in accomplishing this task.
Since August 2008, the ocean planning team has held numerous public meetings on the planning process, including a statewide “listening tour” that traveled from the Cape and Islands to Pittsfield, to receive input from interested parties. The planning team has reviewed and synthesized all available scientific data related to Massachusetts’ ocean ecology and has compiled a vast database of the various human uses of our coastal waters, including fishing, navigation, transportation, recreation and infrastructure. The result, as you will see, is a comprehensive series of maps that detail existing uses of the ocean as well as areas where special marine species or habitats are located. Based on this information, the planning team has outlined appropriate areas for certain uses, like commercial-scale wind farms, and performance standards for other uses, like sand-mining, cables and pipelines, to ensure that there is minimal conflict between existing and proposed uses. The plan also includes a proposal for off-shore community-based wind projects and identifies areas that are deserving of greater protection because of their high ecological value.
We encourage you to review the draft plan and to share it with your constituents. The planning team will be accepting public comment on the draft plan throughout summer and fall and will be holding at least 4 public hearings in September to receive feedback on the draft. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments about ocean planning or the draft ocean plan.
A copy of the complete draft plan is available at: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eoeeaterminal&L=3&L0=Home&L1=Ocean+%26+Coastal+Management&L2=Massachusetts+Ocean+Plan&sid=Eoeea&b=terminalcontent&f=eea_oceans_draft_mop&csid=Eoeea.