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What are some of the lessons learned from other planning processes?


In 2009, an international workshop hosted by The Nature Conservancy documented the best practices for healthy ocean planning. Since then, many more lessons have been learned within different regions of the country.

Ocean planning best practices include:

  • Using existing boundaries that cover the locations of human activities and important ecological features.
    • In Washington, the planning boundary extends offshore to the 700 fathoms (1200 meters) depth which encompasses the major areas of human activities such as fishing, shipping, and recreation, and important ecological features such as rocky habitats, corals, upwelling zones, and submarine canyons that occur off Washington’s Pacific Coast.

  • Developing planning objectives and data needs early in the development phase.
    • In Washington, goals and objectives were developed through collaborative working sessions in the pre-planning phase of the process. Data gaps were then identified, prioritized, and when appropriate, funded.

  • Recognizing that data comes in visual and contextual forms.
    • Several projects map visual data while others gather new information on current or future uses in Washington’s marine waters. For example, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife turned logbook information into visual data while the sector analyses gathered contextual information on several coastal and marine uses.

  • Focusing on obtaining habitat data to accomplish ecological objectives.
    • The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is combining and analyzing detailed habitat data to create visual information on Ecologically Important Areas, which will assist in identifying sensitive ecological areas that new uses should avoid.

  • Keeping data in a format that is easily transferable.
    • The MSP website provides access to all publically available information, including spatial data in an online GIS viewer and downloadable formats through the MSP data catalog, and all data can connect to other applications with ease through unique web links called Web Services.

  • Developing an integrated plan that addresses multiple management objectives.
    • The plan will address multiple goals and objectives, which were established by the Washington State Legislature and refined through a collaborative process with stakeholders, and federal, tribal, and local government representatives. The plan’s action items rely on existing policies, regulations, and programs to implement the plan and it’s guidelines. For example, an aquatic land lease issued by the State Department of Natural Resources will use the marine spatial plan to guide aquatic land management decisions.

For more details on the lessons learned workshop, read the TNC workshop report. Additionally, read the Rhode Island SAMP Practitioner’s Guide for best practices.


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