LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Aquarium of the Pacific and USC Sea Grant gathered leading national experts in the first attempt to apply coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) to the waters off Southern California. The Obama Administration interagency Ocean Policy Task Force recommends planning the allocation of the ocean through this process. Other countries have adopted CMSP, but in the U.S. only Massachusetts and Rhode Island have implemented it.
The Aquarium of the Pacific wants California to take the West Coast lead. “Through proper planning, we can improve the quality of the ocean and enhance our economy. By allocating uses we can cluster compatible activities, and keep them away from sensitive biological populations,” said Dr. Jerry R. Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president.
The experts involved represented the conservation, scientific, government, and commercial sectors. They agreed that as the population grows and economic and ecosystem pressures increase, the need for management of human activity and protection of marine life will be paramount.
Charles “Bud” Ehler, president of Ocean Visions Consulting and marine spatial planning consultant to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, noted that some ocean areas are sensitive, while others may be more appropriate for human uses. He continued saying that spatial allocation is a sensible approach as new ocean uses, such as offshore wind farms and other industries, enter the picture.
The experts involved represented NOAA; the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement; California Fisheries Coalition; Southern California Edison; Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute; U.S. Coast Guard; California Ocean Protection Council; and others. They emphasized the need for public involvement and felt CMSP could help allocate areas for recreation, tourism, habitat protection, indigenous uses, and conservation, as well as for renewable energy, aquaculture, biofuel, and fisheries. The U.S. has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone—the region off 200 nautical miles off its coast—of any nation on Earth.
“The waters off Southern California are ideal for eco-friendly offshore aquaculture and for new renewable energy sources. Both would enhance the region’s economy and reduce dependency on imports, while improving our ocean,” said Schubel. The Aquarium hopes the public will encourage their elected officials to push for a Coastal and Marine Spatial Plan for California.