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Charles Costanzo
WCMAC Shipping Seat
Charlie is the Vice President of the American Waterways Operators Pacific Region. He advocates on behalf of the U.S. tugboat, towboat, and barge industry throughout the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii. His primary areas of focus include Jones Act trade, oil spill prevention and response, air and water quality regulation, and waterways infrastructure. Before relocating to Washington in 2010, Charlie worked as an attorney in New York City, practicing land use, oil spill, and navigation law. He loves spending time with his family and, with his two children, has participated in the construction of numerous driftwood and seaweed forts throughout Puget Sound.

What does marine spatial planning mean to you?
Marine spatial planning is another means of carefully protecting a valuable resource. In this case, the resource is access to shoreline and waterways. Almost all forms of property law involve balancing the needs of stakeholders with interests in using the land or water. Sometimes these needs or interests are in competition or conflict, and ideally, marine spatial planning provides a means of anticipating those competing needs and resolving those conflicts. It’s a problem solving tool or a framework to anticipate and resolve problems before they arise.

How did you get involved and why are you involved in the planning process?
I became involved in the planning process because I represent vessel operators that engage in coastwide trade throughout the US west coast. My role is to preserve and protect the marine highways that provide the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally-sustainable means of transporting freight – waterways.

What do you hope the WCMAC can accomplish with the Washington Marine Spatial Plan?
I think the best thing that we can do is provide a voice to coastal communities and, by bringing stakeholders together, lower the negotiating costs of marine resource stewardship. I think the oceans face many challenges from all of the people on the planet. We need to be supremely careful about how we manage our marine resources because they are both vulnerable and non-renewable. The challenges are profound. The WCMAC provides just one avenue to bring people together to understand those challenges and manage competing interests as effectively as possible for this little strip of land that borders an impossibly huge ocean.

Anything else interesting about you?
It may be surprising, but when I was a little kid, I didn’t want to be a tugboat lobbyist when I grew up. In fact, it was only long after I had grown up, that I learned that a tugboat lobbyist was a thing. It’s actually a really fun thing to be.

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