Marine spatial plan adopted to protect our coastal resources

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Ruby Beach on Washington's Pacific Coast

Did you know that only four Washington counties – Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Pacific – have marine shorelines on the Pacific Ocean?

Together, these four jurisdictions account for 331,000 acres of marine waters and have 157 miles of open ocean coastline. Our coastal communities and coastal Indian tribes have a rich history and maintain a unique relationship to our coastal resources.

Yet, there are increasing demands on these resources – including new projects and uses that can potentially create conflicts with uses or damage our marine resources.

State develops, adopts marine spatial plan

To ensure Washington maintains a resilient, healthy coastal marine ecosystem, we worked closely with our partners at the Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources (DNR) to adopt a new tool – called a “marine spatial plan” – to help make coordinated, science based decisions about proposed new ocean projects and uses.

The guidance establishes processes for coordinating among local and tribal governments and state and federal agencies and for ensuring interest groups and the public have opportunities to weigh in on future projects.

Since the guidance contains new policies to protect Washington’s coastal resources and ocean uses, the guidance also puts the state in a strong position to review and shape new ocean activities in areas of state and federal waters in the plan’s study area.

The state worked closely with local and tribal governments, other state agencies, the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council, environmental and planning groups, the private sector and the public to develop the plan.

Plan will help evaluate new ocean projects, uses

The new guidance will help us evaluate new proposals seeking to be located between Cape Flattery and Cape Disappointment. The plan covers a patch of the Pacific nearly 6,000 square nautical miles in size.

Right now, most of ocean uses in Washington center on recreation, maritime shipping, coastal fishing and shellfish aquaculture. But we know we have to be ready to effectively assess proposals for new uses and activities such as:

  • Renewable energy
  • Mining
  • Dredged material disposal
  • Marine product harvesting
  • Offshore aquaculture operations

Our marine spatial plan builds on a 2010 law passed by the state legislature. Six years in the making, the new plan outlines the data and information that are needed to evaluate new proposals – especially the potential effects new ocean uses could have on people, our local communities and the environment.

It also integrates existing state policies and standards that projects must satisfy such as demonstrating that projects have no likely, long-term significant adverse impacts to resources or uses.

Competition for small fraction of ocean ecosystem

Michele Culver, Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Manager for state Fish and Wildlife said “while the ocean is a vast ecosystem, there is competition to use a small fraction of it.”

The plan, Culver said, provides a way for the state to carefully consider the placement of proposed new uses and the effects on other important activities, such as fishing, that occur in the same area.

While the plan establishes protections for fisheries and ecologically sensitive areas in state waters, it doesn’t change current management or permit processes for existing marine activities such as fisheries management plans or shellfish aquaculture.

Before we adopted the guidance, the state sought and received comments on the draft plan and a related environmental impact statement which helped us evaluate anticipated impacts that could arise from adopting the plan.

We carefully assessed all the comments we received and they helped us refine the plan. We will submit the marine spatial plan as part of Washington’s federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Program.

Get involved and stay current on marine spatial planning

The new state marine spatial plan creates an inclusive decision-making process that carefully considers economic, social, ecological, and cultural interests and gives all users an avenue for having input on the most appropriate strategies to guide and evaluate future uses of our Pacific Ocean waters.

Everyone can keep tabs and get involved in with marine spatial planning in Washington.

Washington State Releases Draft Marine Spatial Plan

Posted by & filed under Events, News, Public Comment.

On behalf of the state interagency team, Department of Ecology is releasing the Draft Marine Spatial Plan for Washington’s Pacific Coast for review and comment by interested parties, agencies, and tribes. The comment period runs through December 12, 2017. The draft plan provides information on ocean uses and resources and a framework for evaluating proposed new ocean uses on Washington’s Pacific Coast.

A Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluates the effects of the management actions contained in the draft plan and is also available for review and comment. This review process helps decision makers and the public understand the specific actions in the draft plan and how they would affect people and the environment.

On the MSP projects and resources web page, you can download and view the draft documents. You can also download individual chapters and review supporting documents.

For an overview on the draft Marine Spatial Plan, review the Fact sheet: Draft Marine Spatial Plan

You may provide comments on the Draft Marine Spatial Plan online by December 12, 2017 or in person at one of our public meetings. Visit the MSP calendar for information on upcoming public meetings and comment opportunities.

Draft Marine Spatial Plan (complete document and appendices, 18 MB)
Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

New Habitat Framework Products Available

Posted by & filed under News, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

The Hoh, Makah, Quileute Tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation, in collaboration with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and NOAA Fisheries, recently released several products in support of their ongoing Habitat Framework Initiative.

This project aims to improve the understanding and management of marine resources and ecosystems off Washington’s coast through the application of a standardized habitat classification system (the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard, or CMECS). The resulting tools and maps build on existing habitat data, including seafloor data used in the Washington Marine Spatial Planning process, to provide a more comprehensive picture of the resources within the Tribes’ Usual and Accustomed fishing areas and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, as well as other areas off the Pacific coast.

For an overview of the project, view this story map on the NWIFC website, or access the project report for more detail. Click here to explore the map tool.

MSP Preliminary Draft Documents Available

Posted by & filed under News, WCMAC.

The Preliminary Draft Marine Spatial Plan is now available!

These preliminary documents are intended to provide key stakeholders and tribes an opportunity to conduct an early review of the plan and provide feedback to state agencies on plan content. A formal draft is currently expected to be released for public comment in May.

The preliminary plan is provided in five documents:

1. Introduction: Section 1 provides basic background information on topics including the planning process, goals, and tribal treaty rights.

2. Baseline Information: Current Conditions and Future Trends Section 2 gives information about current conditions and existing uses in the study area. It also includes discussions of potential new uses and climate change.

3. Spatial Analyses: Section 3 provides an overview of the data, methods, and results of three spatial analyses done to support the Marine Spatial Planning Process.

4. Management Framework: Section 4 describes information related to the implementation of the Marine Spatial Plan.

Appendices: This section provides additional information including maps referenced in the plan and a full list of WCMAC recommendations.

These sections are also available in one combined file. Please visit the Resources page to view or download the preliminary plan files.

Member Spotlight: Alla Weinstein

Posted by & filed under WCMAC.

Alla Weinstein
WCMAC Energy Industry Seat
Alla is a renewable energy entrepreneur. She is also a founder of Trident Winds, LLC, a project development company works to provide deep-water offshore wind solutions. Alla is a former Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of Principle Power Inc, a deep water offshore wind technology company. She successfully developed a wave energy conversion technology with AquaEnergy Group Ltd. Alla brings over thirty five years of international industry experience and is an excellent representative of the energy industry for the WCMAC. She is a frequent speaker in the US. and Europe on renewable energy development and served as the first President of the European Ocean Energy Association.

What does marine spatial planning mean to you?
Development of renewable energy projects in the marine environment requires extensive work with others that use the same space. Marine Spatial Planning is the first step in identifying such uses and the respective stakeholders. We live in an interconnected world, and as such, have to negotiate co-existance between various parties.

How did you get involved and why are you involved in the planning process?
I was appointed by Governor Inslee and with the founding of Trident Winds and the subsequent initiation of the Morro Bay Offshore project development, I find myself implementing Marine Spatial Planning in real time by negotiating project site with user groups around the globe.

What do you hope the WCMAC can accomplish with the Washington Marine Spatial Plan?
WCMAC can prepare a plan that would define the most viable use of the Washington coastline based on the existing constrains. Such plan also can recommended changes to the existing constrains to achieve the best benefits for the state.

Anything else interesting about you?
Oceans and the marine life are the first that are being impacted by the climate change as the heat trapped in the atmosphere heats up the ocean waters. Any planning has to take into account that we the humans are responsible to the climate change and as such have to increase the use of clean, renewable energy. Oceans provide the most amount of that energy on the planet. It is up to us how best we use the available resources in a sustainable way.

Member Spotlight: Sally Toteff

Posted by & filed under WCMAC.

Sally Toteff
WCMAC Ecology Seat
Sally is the regional director for the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Southwest and Olympic Peninsula Region. She grew up on the lower Columbia River and has spent her career working on environmental and natural resource issues in local and state governments as well as the private sector. Sally has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Western Washington University. She currently works on community, tribal, economic, and policy issues throughout Washington State.

Sally Toteff

How did you get involved and why are you involved in the planning process?
Seeds of respect for our natural and working shorelines were planted long ago — and are a strong base for my participation in the marine planning process of today. Four generations ago, my family built their home along the shores of the lower Columbia River. I grew up in the commercial fishing family business that my granddad began. I learned about hard work, taking care of what you have, and the meaning of a handshake.

Today I have a career devoted to promoting environmental quality and healthy watersheds, and it’s an incredible opportunity to be part of the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council. In my role as the regional director of Department of Ecology’s Southwest region, which includes the Washington coast and entire Olympic peninsula, I am able to represent broad expertise and knowledge about coastal communities and shoreline uses, coastal ecosystems, and regulatory processes that would apply to new proposals. I look forward to a plan that is based on strong science, best available data, community input, and one that is implementable.

Member Spotlight: David Fluharty

Posted by & filed under WCMAC.

David Fluharty
Education institution

Dave is an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA). He has spent a lifetime researching marine issues, educating future marine professionals, and committing himself to public service. Dave teaches specialized courses in marine protected area management, marine spatial planning, U.S. fisheries management and core courses in marine policy analysis and marine affairs.

Recently, Dave served as the Chair of NOAA’s Science Advisory Board (2006-2010) and continues to serve as Co-Chair of the Ecosystem Science and Management Working Group to advise NOAA scientists on topics including integrated ecosystem assessments, marine spatial planning, ecosystem-based fishery management, ecosystem services valuation, and indigenous and local ecological knowledge.

In earlier work, Dave was a member of the original “citizen” Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, the Murray-Metcalf Northwest Straits Commission, and was a Washington representative on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (1994-2003). Dave was recognized with the Outstanding Public Service Award in 2013 by the UW College of the Environment.
David Fluharty
What does marine spatial planning mean to you?
I tend to view ocean management holistically. The state and federal government have a legacy of management approaches that evolved in an ad hoc manner. Thus, while policy for one sector might be effective it is sometimes not sufficient in dealing with other issues. First, and foremost, Marine Spatial Planning offers an initial framework to identify and protect existing uses. MSP can also be a forum used to set the conditions for how the government considers new uses. In order to do that, MSP first called for inventory and documentation of existing uses to understand what is happening in the marine environment in a holistic manner. Unlike other states, the Washington MSP process is fortunate to not have proposals for ocean energy, natural gas import/export terminals, or siting of offshore aquaculture driving the process. Thus, we can focus on developing (and improving) our own management approach and preparing for other changes due to sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification. MSP helps us set priorities for current uses and protect the ecosystem services that sustain all people of the state.

How did you get involved and why are you involved in the planning process?
The short story is that I track many marine resource management issues in Washington to use in my teaching and research. I submitted my name and qualifications for the Educational Institution seat on the WCAMC and was appointed to serve. I wanted to share my experience with MSP more generally and have found it extremely rewarding to work with others on the WCMAC to learn how their experience informs the process.

What do you hope the WCMAC can accomplish with the Washington Marine Spatial Plan?
As a first generation plan, I think doing an inventory of ocean uses and documenting their value to coastal communities and to Washington more generally is a huge benefit. This will help to improve management and protection of the things we value. Further, to the extent that the plan can set forth direction that assists in review and assessment of potential new uses, whatever they might be, this will be a valuable contribution to holistic environmental management.

Anything else interesting about you?

  • I really am a mountain person in terms of recreation and have spent a lot of time and effort trying to protect Wilderness lands in the Washington Cascades.
  • As a high school athlete I focused on the decathlon and likely still hold the record for running from Paradise Inn’s veranda on Mt. Rainier to the top of Pinnacle Peak in the Tatoosh Range (45 minutes).
  • I am fluent in English and Swedish, and can even speak a passable version of Vietnamese (at one point my life depended on it).


Marxan Workshop Materials

Posted by & filed under Department of Fish and Wildlife, Reports, Washington Sea Grant, WCMAC.

Thanks to many of you who were able to join the Spatial Analysis Workshop. If you were unable to attend or are looking for more information about what was discussed, some materials are available here for you.

Marxan Overview
Marxan Presentation
Renewable Energy Examples
Small Group Handout
Full Video

Additionally, the PNNL report was referenced several times in the workshop. For you convenience, the PNNL energy suitability report is available here. And the data products are available on the MSP mapping application under “Energy Suitability”.

The next spatial analysis workshop will take place in Montesano on June 13.
Keep an eye on the MSP calendar for more information.
As a reminder, the next WCMAC meeting is June 15 at the Port of Grays Harbor.


Graduate student completes a spatial analysis for Washington’s waters

Posted by & filed under Reports.

Mikaela Freeman, a graduate from the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington recently published an article in Marine Policy. The study creates a marine potential conflict index to assess potential conflicts between current marine uses. It also identifies the marine uses that have the highest potential conflict with one another due to the fact that the uses intensely occupy the same space at similar times of the year. Combining factors of space, time, and intensity in a Marine Potential Conflict Index is a novel approach to identify the potential conflict between current ocean uses.

Read the full article here.

Olympic Coast Survey and Data Collection for Multiple Uses

Posted by & filed under News, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Read NOAA Coast Survey’s blog post about how the seafloor and water column data from the coast of Washington is now being collected by NOAA’s Ship Rainier high priority data areas. These areas were selected in a seafloor mapping prioritization exercise in 2014. A group of state and federal managers, tribal governments, and academia delineated the areas and stated that they need a better understanding of canyon depths, seafloor, and habitat.

Read more about the project and where else the Rainier will go here:
More information about the seafloor prioritization process