Science Informs Marine Spatial Planning
The potential for new sustainable uses of the ocean is driving a lot of activity in the Gulf of Maine region. This has created an increased focus on marine spatial planning to enable balanced use of resources. The marine spatial planning process brings together diverse interests to create integrated, forward looking plans for managing resources into the future. This process has been under way in Massachusetts for the past two years, and it is beginning to gain momentum in Maine. The state is playing a key role, and GMRI is being called upon for technical expertise and economic analysis of marine resources. We are also playing a lead role in a community consultation process to spur conversations that provide input and enable sound decisions.
One of the first steps is the development of a Maine Coastal Atlas, a planning tool that will be a resource for integrated data. GMRI’s Ocean Data Products Team (formerly the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System) is partnering on the project led by the Maine State Planning Office. The atlas will enable users to map out environmental and socioeconomic data, such as fishing grounds, sensitive habitats, shipping lanes, infrastructure, tourism areas, potential offshore wind and tidal power sites, and possible locations for aquaculture operations. By overlaying layer upon layer of maps, the atlas will illustrate the dynamic, ever changing nature of the ocean, with usage that overlaps and shifts over time. It will be a critical tool for an ecosystem-based approach to managing resources.