On November 15th, NROC members and partners traveled to the University of Southern Maine in Portland for a productive Fall Meeting. Participants heard partner updates from Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, Gulf of Maine Council, and the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. NROC’s Ocean Planning Committee provided an update about advancing Northeast ocean management priorities in the context of the new administration. NROC’s Ocean and Coastal Ecosystem Health Committee highlighted recent activities of the Northeast Ocean Acidification Network, and the Integrated Sentinel Monitoring Network. The Coastal Hazards Resilience Committee solicited feedback from partners about potential workshop topics. Meetings participants also heard about recent activities associated with Living Shorelines projects, news from the Sand Management Committee, and other presentations. A copy of the November meeting Briefing Packet, presentations, and meeting summary have been posted to NROC’s online library under Council Meetings. The date and location of NROC’s Spring 2019 meeting will be posted here when available. Questions about NROC meetings can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living Shorelines / Nature-based Coastal Infrastructure
NROC, The Nature Conservancy, state agencies in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut along with numerous other partners have been working together on the NOAA funded project, Increasing Resilience and Reducing Risk through Successful Application of Nature-based Coastal Infrastructure Practices in New England. Several project team members traveled to California in December to share highlights from this regional effort at the Restoring America’s Estuaries Conference. For more information about this project, view NROC’s new two-page issue and project overview available here. This project builds on the Living Shorelines State of the Practice Report published in 2017.
Northeast Ocean Planning Update
NROC hosted an ocean planning meeting on November 14th in Portland, Maine. The meeting resulted in the development and delivery of a letter from NROC to the federal interagency Ocean Policy Committee established under Executive Order 13840. NROC’s letter describes regional ocean management priorities and requests continued and increased cooperation from federal agencies to advance these priorities. In addition to the letter, the meeting resulted in the following outcomes:
- NROC agreed to the following general ocean planning and management priorities (see online meeting documents for details): 1) Convening – providing a regional forum for a broad range of interests to engage and share information about offshore management issues; 2) Data – engaging stakeholders in the development and review of regional geospatial data products of the ecosystem and human activities; and 3) Best Practices – providing recommendations to enhance key aspects of existing regulatory and management processes, including stakeholder engagement, agency and interjurisdictional coordination, the use of data and information, and pre-application practices.
- NROC formally re-established its Ocean Planning Committee to include voluntary participation from current NROC members, additional state and federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, and the New England Fishery Management Council. The Ocean Planning Committee will advance regional ocean management and planning priorities, and it will serve as a regional forum for communication and coordination and discussions about important or emerging ocean management issues. The Ocean Planning Committee will initially include two work groups, a Regional Data Work Group, and a Best Practices Work Group.
- The 2019 work plan for the Northeast Ocean Data Portal will be revised to reflect additional data priorities identified during the meeting, such as new or revised data and products related to the blue economy, changing ocean conditions, and commercial fishing. Many of the data priorities identified in the Northeast were also expressed by other regions through the Scoping Study on Regional Data Needs that was conducted nationally by NOAA and BOEM.
- Last, as the Ocean Planning Committee and work groups move forward, we agreed to communicate how stakeholders and interested parties can be involved in specific activities and how everything relates to the goals and the implementation of the Northeast Ocean Plan.
In related news:
- The Northeast Ocean Data Portal has had many updates over the last month, including 2017 vessel traffic data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the functionality to view vessel traffic data on a monthly basis in relation to other maps and data. The Portal was also updated to inform current fishery management and offshore wind development proceedings, including maps of the wind energy and lease areas offshore New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts and maps depicting the Clam Dredge Framework alternatives that were recently under consideration by the New England Fishery Management Council. Maps reflecting current regulatory and management proceedings will be regularly updated. Many other datasets are also in development and will be released over the coming months.
- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register for the Vineyard Wind Offshore Wind Energy Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The public comment period on the Draft EIS will close on January 22, 2019. BOEM will hold five public meetings in January in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Please see BOEM’s website for more information.
Questions about Ocean Planning can be directed to Nick Napoli at email@example.com.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation / NOAA Announce Coastal Resilience Grant Awards
In November 2018, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and NOAA announced National Coastal Resilience Fund awards totaling $28.9 million. Projects focus on enhancing fish and wildlife habitat and protecting coastal communities. A summary of awards is available at: https://www.nfwf.org/coastalresilience/Documents/2018grantslate.pdf. Grants were awarded to the following projects in the Northeast Region:
- MA – $1.2 million to National Wildlife Federation for the project – Restore New England’s Largest Saltmarsh for Resilience and Ecological Enhancement (25,000-acre Great Marsh)
- ME – $250,000 to Kennebec Estuary Land Trust for the project – Back River Creek Saltmarsh Restoration for Coastal Infrastructure Resilience
- NH – $136,242 to The Nature Conservancy for the project – Tidal Crossing Replacements for a Resilient Coastal New Hampshire
- RI – $280,140 to the RI Coastal Resources Management Council for the project – Rhode Island Shoreline Adaptation and Habitat Enhancement Project Inventory