On June 8 and 9th The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island was honored to host the first public workshop on the Conservancy’s comprehensive mapping of the northwest Atlantic Ocean.This ambitious plan extends from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras and from the coast to the edge of the outer continental shelf. For the first time, information about all habitats and a huge variety of species, from Ridley’s sea turtles, to winter flounder, to humpback whales, is contained in one report. The information will be publicly available and is especially useful for “marine spatial planning,” which aims to take a holistic approach to managing the many uses of our oceans.
“The northwest Atlantic has sustained communities and economies for generations, and now it needs our help.” said Janet Coit, the Conservancy’s Rhode Island State Director.“We are thrilled to host this important meeting in the Ocean State and begin the discussion about the status of our ocean waters. This information will help the Conservancy and our many partners and stakeholders chart a sustainable future for our oceans.”
Completed in partnership with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the Northeast Regional Oceans Council, this workshop provided an opportunity for technical experts from across New England to share their comments and suggestions so that the information is as accurate and useful as possible.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse attended the briefing and voiced his support for the planning efforts, while also pointing out the many threats to our oceans, particularly from climate change. Find out more about theNature Conservancy's Global Climate Change Initiative. “Ocean acidification is a huge problem and we need to address this by curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But this kind plan will help our agencies manage the oceans in a way that allows adaptation to this new climate.”
Grover Fugate, Executive Director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, presented on the Ocean Special Area Management Plan, which is the country’s first plan to use marine spatial planning to address a host of uses, especially wind power development. The types of data presented at the workshop will help agencies like CRMC protect sensitive marine resources through careful analysis of potential impacts from various off-shore projects.
Bud Ehler, a Paris-based consultant to the United Nations who helped moderate the Warwick meeting, said he has seen marine mapping become commonplace in Australia, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.“We’ve been watching from Paris and wondering when the slumbering giant was going to wake up,” he said. “We’re gratified to see the U.S. is finally picking up steam.”
For more information on marine assessments the Conservancy has completed elsewhere, go to www.nature.org/initiatives/marine/strategies/assessments.html
For more information,please review this fact sheet about the Northwest Atlantic Marine Ecoregional Assessment
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.