NOAA Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Home Page

National Ocean Policy

On June 12, 2009, President Obama signed a memorandum establishing the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Then, on July 19, 2010, this task force released a set of final recommendations that set a new direction for improved stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.

To translate the set of final recommendations into on-the-ground actions for the benefit of the American people, the National Ocean Council released the final implementation plan on April 16, 2013. The implementation plan focuses on improving coordination to speed federal permitting decisions and better manage the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources that drive so much of our economy. The plan also seeks to develop and disseminate sound scientific information that local communities, industries, and decision-makers can use. In all these goals, effective collaboration with state, tribal, and local partners, as well as marine industries and other stakeholders, is essential.

About This Website

The purpose of this website is to provide users with marine planning information, including national-level policies and NOAA’s prominent role in this activity. Of equal importance is the goal to help managers and policy makers, and all others who use and appreciate the ocean, understand the concept of marine planning and advance its implementation regionally in real-world settings.

What is Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning?

Coastal and marine spatial planning—or marine planning—is a science-based tool that regions can use to address specific ocean management challenges and advance their goals for economic development and conservation. Just as federal agencies work with states, tribes, local governments, and others to manage forests, grasslands, and other areas, they also can use marine planning to coordinate activities among all coastal and ocean interests and provide the opportunity to share information. This process is designed to decrease user conflict, improve planning and regulatory efficiencies, decrease associated costs and delays, engage affected communities and stakeholders, and preserve critical ecosystem functions and services.

Put simply, marine planning is a process developed from the bottom up to improve collaboration and coordination among all coastal and ocean interests, and to better inform and guide decision-making that affects their economic, environmental, security, and social and cultural interests.