The ocean plan provides protections for critical marine habitat and natural resources in the Commonwealth's waters and sets standards for the development of offshore renewable energy, as well as for other infrastructure, to foster sustainable uses in the state's ocean waters. It was developed to maximize integration and coordination among state agencies and to encourage consistency and synchronization with federal, regional, and local levels of government. In addition, the management framework of the plan was designed to be implemented within the existing regulatory structure, relying on a networked approach where the scope and expertise of agency authorities are coordinated in project reviews and approvals.
Since the plan’s release, significant effort has gone into implementation, including the development and promulgation of implementing regulations (301 CMR 28.00), the incorporation of the plan into the state’s federally approved Coastal Management Program, and agency review of projects subject to the plan. Significant progress has also been made on the science and data actions identified as priorities in the ocean plan, including: important advancements in marine seafloor and habitat characterization; major expansion of data and information on human use patterns such as recreational boating activity; and key updates in both functionality and data contents to the publicly accessible online data and mapping system (Massachusetts Ocean Resources Information Systems, or MORIS) for the plan. All of the spatial data in the ocean plan are provided on a dedicated MORIS: Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Data page.
The Oceans Act requires that EEA review and update the plan at least once every five years, and in January 2013, EEA initiated this review. The information below describes the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan review and update process, with a link to a review report released in January 2014 and work group reports finalized in March 2014. This page also includes links to: the final 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, the ocean management plan data, and the draft plan and technical reports, along with an overview of the initial ocean planning process.
Review and Update of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan
In January 2013, EEA initiated a formal review and update of the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, beginning with a comprehensive assessment of progress and performance to achieve the requirements and commitments established by the Oceans Act and the ocean plan. EEA released the results of this assessment in Review of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. This document provides a summary of the background and context for ocean planning in Massachusetts and reports on the plan development process, including the policies and management framework, plan administration and implementation, and work on science and data priorities identified in the ocean plan’s Science Framework. The document also synthesizes the views and opinions of the members of the state’s Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council on the ocean planning and implementation process, and summarizes stakeholder and public input received during a public review process in June 2013.
In June 2013, through four public meetings and a formal 60-day comment period, EEA gathered input on the proposed scope for updates to the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Also in June, six technical work groups were convened to review scientific data and information and to identify and characterize important trends in ocean resources and uses. The work groups address: habitat, fisheries, sediment resources, recreational and cultural services, transportation and navigation, and energy and infrastructure. At meetings in the fall and winter of 2013-2014, the Ocean Advisory Commission and Science Advisory Council reviewed draft reports from each of the six technical work groups and provided comments and advice. In March 2014, CZM, with support from SeaPlan (formerly the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership) held two public workshops to share information and solicit input and feedback from stakeholders on the findings and recommendations of the work groups. The final work group reports are provided below.
- These documents present the final Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan that was promulgated on December 31, 2009.
All of the spatial data provided in the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan are hosted in the Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System, or MORIS. MORIS is an online mapping tool that can be used to search and display spatial data pertaining to the Massachusetts coastal zone and is the official data repository for the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Launch MORIS to view, query, and map the data
- This page includes links to the draft of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan along with technical reports and other materials that were produced to support plan development.