News Date: 12/30/2016 Printed in The Star-Ledger
Tim Dillingham Guest Columnist
Conflict is looming just beyond the horizon on the high seas off New York and New Jersey - and it doesn't bode well for our appetite for fish at the dinner table.
As reported in The Star-Ledgeron Dec. 9, "Commercial fishing companies, trade groups and seaport communities in four states (recently) asked a court to stop the federal government from auctioning off the rights to develop an offshore wind farm" in the Atlantic Ocean.
Will fighting clean-energy wind mills become a quixotic effort from the commercial fishing industry? This shouldn't even be a question if there was proper planning.
Sarah Winter Whelan Helen Henderson
Ocean Policy Program Director Ocean Planning Manager
Sandy Hook, NJ -- The American Littoral Society applauds today's adoption of the Regional Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan by the National Ocean Council. This action clears the Action Plan for implementation by federal, state and tribal entities.
"Throughout this effort, our goal has been to ensure that the Plan will be a blueprint for conservation and management to protect the ocean and its natural resources. This Final Action Plan will be the foundation," said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. "The next goal will be effective implementation."
The Action Plan is particularly important as the ocean and coastal waters of the Mid-Atlantic region are environmentally and economically crucial. Over 34 million people call the Mid-Atlantic coastal region their home. The Mid-Atlantic ocean and coast serve as an economic engine, generating $2 trillion or 14 percent of U.S. annual gross domestic product.
"The importance of this step cannot not be undersold and we are thrilled to have a Final Plan in our hands," said Sarah Winter Whelan, Ocean Policy Program Director for the Littoral Society. "However, now is when the real work begins. Implementation will bring another set of opportunities and challenges for us to ensure conservation prevails in this Plan."
As part of the Plan's finalization, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body will host a webinar on Thursday, December 8 detailing the changes made between the draft and final Action Plan and the next steps for implementation. For more information on the webinar, go to MidAtlanticOceanPlanning.org.
The importance and need for this type of an action plan is clear. The ocean and coast are hubs for commercial and recreational fishing, shipping transportation to and from multiple ports, renewable energy production, high-speed telecommunications, science and research, tourism, and countless recreational interests and industries.
Demands to increase existing uses and open the area to new development drive home the need for a plan that will help protect the environment and ecosystems. The Mid-Atlantic region is already struggling with issues related to multiple forms of water pollution that are harming the environment and limiting the quality of life in our coastal communities. Likewise, increased activity and disturbances in offshore areas threaten sensitive and unique habitats, as well as the multi-billion dollar tourist industry built around those attractions.
Protecting such sensitive areas and preventing fossil fuel development are the Littoral Society's top priorities for the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Plan.
"Years of time, effort and dedication are represented in this new plan," said Helen Henderson, the Society's Ocean Planning Manager. "This Plan will connect federal, state and tribal agencies in ways that will serve the public need while protecting our irreplaceable resources."
The American Littoral Society applauds the submission of the Regional Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan to the National Ocean Council for final review and adoption. This action is the final step before the Action Plan will be considered final and ready for implementation by over 18 federal, state and tribal entities.
Submission of the final Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan (Action Plan) concludes a four-month outreach process that included public review and comment of the draft Action Plan through written comments, public meetings and listening sessions around the region. The final version of the Action Plan submitted to the National Ocean Council incorporates feedback from the public during this summer’s outreach.
"The Mid-Atlantic ocean faces increasing demands on its resources, space and ecology," said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director for the American Littoral Society. "We need a strategy that will protect marine life, as well as the traditional uses and clean water economies on which our coastal communities depend. This Ocean Action Plan can be a tool to reach those goals, and we will be reviewing how the agencies incorporated our feedback into the Ocean Action Plan.”
Ocean advocates meet with Federal agencies,
is a project website for the American Littoral Society.
The American Littoral Society promotes the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protects the coast from harm, and empowers others to do the same.
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