Northeast Region

Northeast Regional Ocean Planning

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (NERPB) is comprised of representatives from the federal government, all six New England states, the ten federally recognized Northeast Tribal Nations, as well as one rep from the Northeast Fisheries Management Council. Take a look at the full list of NERPB members and learn more about the NERPB here.

Over the summer of 2013, the NERPB held ten public meetings all over New England to discuss their initial draft goals and potential actions for ocean planning.  Public comments submitted during these meetings are summarized here and compilation of all the written comments submitted during the public comment period is available here.  Public input played a large role in the generation of the approved goals and framework.

See for yourself how well the NERPB listened to and incorporated stakeholder feedback during its January 2014 meeting, held to finalize goals and objectives, by viewing the original draft goals issued by the NERPB in the spring of 2013 here, and comparing that to these approved goals:

Goal: Healthy Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems

  • Characterize the region’s ecosystem, economy, and cultural resources.
  • Identify and support existing non-regulatory opportunities to work toward conserving, restoring, and maintaining healthy ecosystems.
  • Produce a regional ocean science plan that prioritizes ocean science and data needs for the region for the next five years.

Goal: Effective Decision-Making

  • Coordinate existing federal and state decision-making processes.
  • Implement specific actions to enhance public input in decision-making.
  • Incorporate maps and other products into agency decision-making processes.
  • Improve respect for the customs and traditions of indigenous peoples in decision-making processes.
  • Improve coordination with local communities in decision-making processes.

Goal: Compatibility Among Past, Current, and Future Ocean Uses

  • Increase understanding of past, current, and future interactions among ocean uses and the ocean and coastal ecosystem.
  • Ensure that regional issues are incorporated in ongoing efforts to assess new and existing human activities.

All Goals

  • Periodically assess progress toward achieving regional ocean planning goals.

Key Changes Made Based on the input of Surfrider Foundation and fellow stakeholders:

  • the position of the goals was rearranged, making Healthy Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems the primary and overarching goal
  • the NERPB identified specific actions to fill the non-consumptive/non-motorized recreational data gap

Check out the approved framework here.

Guiding Principles for Northeast Regional Ocean Planning:

  • Meaningful public participation. Reflect the knowledge, perspectives, and needs of all New Englanders whose lives are touched by the ocean.
  • Sound science. Use accurate, up-to-date data and information, from traditional knowledge to innovative mapping technologies.
  • A comprehensive, ecosystem-based approach. Consider the “big picture” of ecological, economic, cultural, and other needs in our region.
  • Transparent, efficient government decision-making. Reduce duplication and inefficiency in decision-making, and coordinate among agencies and governments based on a common vision, common information sources, and clear decision-making processes.
  • Adaptive management. Update decisions as we learn more about patterns of ocean uses, and as environmental, social, and economic conditions change.

Data Collection

As outlined in the framework, the NERPB has released multiple Requests for Proposals to characterize the Northeast region’s ocean uses.  Check out the projects here.  Learn more about the Ocean Rec Use Study Surfrider is leading here.

The NERPB has been collecting existing information and identifying data gaps to fill.  The data has been used for building maps of all types of ocean uses around New England, to assist in ocean planning efforts.  The goal is to have the best and most detailed data available in order to make the most informed decisions. This data is available in the Northeast Ocean Data Portal. The Portal is a decision support and information system for people engaged in ocean planning in the region from the Gulf of Maine to Long Island Sound.  The website provides access to data, interactive maps, tools, and other information needed for decision making. The primary audiences for this effort include regional managers, ocean stakeholders, and technical staff. The Portal builds on existing efforts in the region and provides additional capacity for both state- and regional-level ocean planning.

We encourage you to play around with the Portal!  Click the Data Explorer image to view any dataset or to select a combination of datasets to layer and view on a single map:

Data Explorer

The NERPB oversees three distinct activities: data gathering/sector engagement, agency coordination, and NROC NEROP org_chart_Feb2014communications and outreach.  NERPB work groups, as well as a team of people working on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal, support each activity.  There are opportunities for stakeholder and technical input at every level of the process—see the NERPB’s Get Involved page for more information on how to get involved in work groups.

Key Areas Needing Improvement

Surfrider Foundation continues to apply pressure on the NERPB to improve stakeholder and technical advisory functions, as well as outreach and communications.  There are significant gaps in ocean user representation and NERPB accountability, as well as gaps in consistency and cohesive procedures for public input.  This is an ongoing process and we’re confident that as we make progress toward the goals, the NERB will remain open and responsive to stakeholder input, suggestions and feedback.  This is another reason why YOUR participation is so vital!

Surfrider Foundation’s primary goals in participating in this process are to help protect ocean and coastal ecosystems and recreational areas, before they’re threatened. 

Our focus in regional ocean planning outreach is helping ocean recreation enthusiasts and the businesses who rely upon them engage in the public process.

We achieve this through:

  • educational efforts
  • information sharing, and
  • idea exchange

Opportunities for comment and discussion on regional ocean planning are built into the process; the NERPB actively seeks and carefully considers public input for integration into our Regional Ocean Plan.  Learn more about how YOU can help here.

RPB’s infographic of their schedule (click the image to be directed to the RPB’s website):

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*Who/what is the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB):

*Federal, state & Tribal members of the NERPB:

*View the Framework:

*What is ocean planning, why should I care & how do I get involved:

*The importance of ocean planning & Surfrider Foundation’s interests:

*Community collaboration in ocean planning & how it works:

*Check out the Northeast Data Portal:

*See the goals for Northeast Regional Ocean Planning:

*Read the Northeast Regional Planning Body Charter:

*Read the Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy:

*For a comprehensive list of Regional Ocean Planning public meetings throughout the Northeast this fall, see: