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Review and Update of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan

Find information on the ocean plan review and update process.

In response to the Oceans Act of 2008, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) issued the original Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan in 2009. The Oceans Act requires EEA to review the ocean plan at least once every five years, and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) leads the review process. On January 3, 2022, EEA released the final 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, which now supersedes all previous ocean plans.

The ocean plan regulations (301 CMR 28.00) allow for periodic “updates” or “amendments” to the ocean plan. Updates are minor revisions necessary for the effective and efficient administration of the ocean plan and include clarifications of the management framework or administration, updated geospatial data related to special, sensitive, or unique (SSU) areas or protected water-dependent uses (WDUs), and minor shifts in management area boundaries. Amendments are more significant changes and include the creation of new management areas or significant boundary changes; the creation of new, or substantial revision to, existing management standards; and the identification of new, or the removal of existing, SSU resources or WDUs. Amendments require scoping coordination between the EEA Secretary, Ocean Advisory Commission (OAC), and Ocean Science Advisory Council (SAC); a 60-day comment period; public hearings; filing of the amended ocean plan with the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate clerks; and any necessary revisions to the ocean plan regulations. The ocean plan review process informs whether an ocean plan update or amendment is warranted.

The next formal review of the ocean plan will begin in 2025. To remain informed about future ocean plan reviews, updates, and amendments, please send a blank email to join-env-oceanplan@listserv.state.ma.us.

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