Throughout history the Atlantic Ocean has shaped the economy and culture of the region, providing sand for beaches, transportation for goods, food for the table, and a place for rest, refreshment, and recreation. The State of Maryland continues to work toward protecting and enhancing our shared coastal and ocean resources while balancing the need to proactively plan for changing ocean uses and conditions. Global commerce is growing, ports are expanding, and demand is increasing for fish, minerals, sediment, and energy. Every day we are learning more about what is beneath the ocean surface; and every day we working to anticipate and address the changes we may see in the coming years as the use of ocean space and resources evolves.
Regional Ocean Planning
Since 2009 Maryland has been engaging through the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) with the coastal states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia to enhance the vitality of the region's ocean ecosystem and economy. Through MARCO, we work in collaboration with partners and stakeholders to improve ocean water quality, collaborate on renewable energy development, protect marine habitats, and adapt to climate change.
In 2013, the MARCO states joined with federal agencies, tribes, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to form the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body, which in 2016 developed the region’s first Ocean Action Plan. The Plan charts the course toward a more integrated approach to managing our shared ocean resources. It guides and informs the decisions and practices of RPB member entities – including Maryland – and fosters transparent ocean data and information sharing, improved coordination in decision making, and collaboration around specific actions that support ocean ecosystem health and sustainable ocean uses. The keystone to the successful ocean planning process has been the development of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal. The Portal features more than 3,000 publically accessible ocean resource and human use data layers, such as marine life distributions, fishing grounds, recreational areas, shipping lanes, wildlife habitat, and proposed renewable energy sites.
Maryland is continually working with resource experts, user groups, and a variety of partners to compile data and information about habitats, human uses, and resources in Maryland’s Atlantic Ocean. Using the State’s foundation of ocean data and information, ocean planning tools – such as the Maryland Coastal Atlas and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal – have been used to help identify areas most suitable for various types of activities in order to reduce conflict among uses, facilitate compatible uses, and reduce environmental impacts to preserve crucial ecosystem services. From 2009 to present, Maryland has worked with partners and stakeholders to: advance the offshore wind energy siting and leasing process; prepare and compile comments about potential environmental impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration and development; evaluate state and regional issues associated with the development of offshore wind; and support studies that advance our understanding of natural resources and geophysical characteristics off the coast to inform siting and leasing processes.
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