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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Regional Ocean Planning in New Hampshire

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Ocean Planning
The goal of ocean planning is to protect coastal and ocean resources, reduce potential user conflicts, and facilitate compatible uses. NHDES is involved with an ongoing regional ocean planning initiative to work with stakeholder groups, including federal and state agencies, environmental organizations, industry representatives and the public to identify opportunities to improve the coordination and use of New England’s regional ocean information.

People use the ocean’s resources for food, energy, shipping, recreation and more. In the last few years, there have been major advances in understanding and mapping these resources and uses of the New England region’s coastal and ocean waters. The information gathered to date shows that there are few unused areas and that many uses happen in the same places. In other words, conflicting uses already exist and will likely increase as new users, such as energy generation and transmission facilities, consider ocean locations.

Federal and Multi-state Partnerships
New Hampshire’s participation in regional ocean planning occurs through two federal and multi-state partnerships: the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), formed in 2005 by the Governors of the New England states, and the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB), which is one of nine planning bodies established by a Presidential Executive Order in 2010 under National Ocean Policy. New Hampshire is represented on NROC by the NHDES Coastal Program, and on the RPB by NHDES Commissioner Tom Burack and Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau. Neither the RPB nor NROC have regulatory authority.

The RPB is charged with leading a cooperative effort to develop a regional ocean plan, which is expected to be released in final form in the fall of 2015. The RPB has developed, with input from NROC and many ocean stakeholders, two documents which set forth the fundamental elements of its ocean planning activities. These include:

A Public Process
Research, data collection and public input are all important parts of ocean planning. NROC has worked extensively with marine-based industries, including aquaculture, commercial fishing, energy, maritime commerce and recreational boating to identify key issues and trends relevant to ocean planning in the region, which in turn has informed the RPB’s goals and framework. The RPB solicited and received public input that helped shaped its goals and objectives.

How to Participate
The RPB wants to hear from the New Hampshire public. The document below provides an overview of the participation goals. In addition, the following events are an opportunity to learn more about the RPB’s goals, work to date and to provide feedback.

Spatial Data
Due primarily to the efforts of NROC and the RPB, there is now a variety of publicly available data on ocean resources and the interactions between these resources and uses. Collectively this data provides the best picture to date of what is taking place in our coastal and ocean waters.

Learn More About Ocean Planning
For an engaging look at why ocean planning in New England is important, watch the movie Ocean Frontiers II, available for streaming at the below link. The movie includes an appearance by NHDES Commissioner Tom Burack.

Related Links

News Updates
Join the Regional Planning Body’s mailing list to receive periodic updates on opportunities to provide comments as well as meeting and webinar announcements to learn more about the RPB’s activities.

For More Information
For more information about New Hampshire’s participation in regional ocean planning, please contact Chris Williams, Coastal Program Coordinator, at (603) 559-0025 or

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