Written by Linc Bedrosian
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
The Northeast Regional Ocean Council's regional planning body held its inaugural meeting this week at a two-day session at the Clarion Hotel in Portland, Maine where they began the daunting task of figuring out how best to manage use of the region's oceans.
Ocean planning activities have been going on in New England states for several years, but they got ratcheted up a notch when President Obama signed an Executive Order in July 2010 that established a National Ocean Policy that aims for better management of our nation's oceans and coasts.
The executive order spawned the formation of the Northeast Regional Planning Body, comprising federal, state, tribal and New England Fishery Management Council representatives with stakeholder input. The planning body listed several objectives for its first meeting:
• Develop common understanding about the regional planning body's assignment and characteristics, basic operational considerations and initial products;
• Provide context regarding current activities in New England that lay a foundation for regional ocean planning;
• Engage stakeholders and the public about regional ocean planning for New England; and
• Discuss the initial focus for the region's ocean planning effort and identify the next steps to take.
Tuesday's keynote speaker was John Bullard, NMFS' northeast regional director. Bullard's resume includes experience at the local, state and federal levels, as well as on Massachusetts' ocean planning advisory commission.
Traditional uses, including commercial fishing, are going to be joined by new uses such as wind energy and aquaculture, Bullard said, noting that decisions are going to be more complicated because there are more uses.
"With more uses, more stakeholders, if we don't do anything decisions will take longer," he said, "and there will be more uses, more lawsuits, and more paralysis."
Moreover, the ocean planning process will require open and transparent dialogue, he said, and all viewpoints must be represented at the board table.
"We are always going to have a big table," Bullard said. "It's frustrating, it takes time, it won't be efficient, but that's the way to do it. If you don't have everyone at the table, it seems efficient at the beginning, but people that aren't at the table will slow it down later."
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...