NOAA is the nation’s primary ocean agency. Many of the underlying principles of the National Ocean Policy and marine planning efforts reflect NOAA’s priorities as an operational marine science and management agency. Emphasis on ecosystem approaches to management has been a NOAA operating principle for years, and the national policy reaffirms and strengthens this operating principle by instituting regionally based planning.
Marine planning considers the ecosystem as a whole and establishes science as the basis for decision-making, which enables thoughtful discussions and informed solutions for preserving existing uses while making careful considerations for new activities.
NOAA will bring its existing scientific capabilities at both the national and regional levels to regional planning efforts. At the same time, NOAA is also committed to working with its partners in the federal government, states, tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and academia to further develop its scientific support tools, research, data, and understanding for the purposes of marine planning.
The national policy establishes nine regional planning bodies to implement a framework for marine planning. While membership on each regional planning body is reserved for federal, state, tribal, regional (fishery management councils), and local entities with authorities relevant to marine planning, the policy is explicit about the importance of stakeholder participation throughout the key steps of the process. NOAA has personnel on the ground, in the air, and on the water in each of the nine regions outlined in the framework. These various regional staff members—ranging from climate services administrators to fishery and port navigation managers—will play important roles as NOAA’s representatives on the regional planning bodies. In addition to being experts on oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes, they will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of community stakeholders from their involvement in regional networks.
NOAA stands ready to leverage its abilities with those of other agencies involved in marine planning and sees this as an opportunity to work together toward a new ocean ethic that will help to ensure healthy and productive oceans for this and future generations of Americans.