2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan

Find links to the state's current ocean plan and supporting documents.

The Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan protects critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses and provides a management framework for ocean-based projects in Massachusetts. In response to the Oceans Act of 2008, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) issued the original ocean plan in 2009. The Oceans Act requires EEA to review the ocean plan at least once every five years, a process led by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

The 2021 ocean plan supersedes all previous ocean plan versions. 

Links to Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the 2021 ocean plan are provided below, along with a description of the review and update process that led to its development and links to relevant documents. The ocean plan regulations are codified at 301 CMR 28.00.

Final 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan

Development of the 2021 Ocean Plan

The 2015 ocean plan, released in January 2015, was the first formal amendment to the 2009 ocean plan (which was the original ocean plan). The 2021 ocean plan, released on January 3, 2022, now supersedes all previous versions.

In 2019, CZM initiated the review and update of the 2015 ocean plan. This process was supported by input from the Ocean Advisory Commission (OAC), Ocean Science Advisory Council (SAC), and six technical work groups, as well as a significant public engagement process.

In December 2020, CZM completed and published the Review of the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (PDF, 3 MB). This document evaluates the ocean plan as a whole, as well as its key components including the siting and management standards, delineation of critical coastal resources and maritime uses, Baseline Assessment of ocean conditions and uses, and Science Framework that identifies the data and analysis necessary to support ocean management and the continued plan evolutionAdditionally, this document proposes a framework for policy updates and priority science objectives to support implementation of the ocean plan over the next five years.

Stakeholder input was an important part of the ocean plan review process. On November 12, 2020, CZM published notice in the Environmental Monitor of the availability of the review document, and comments were accepted through December 14, 2020. A total of 28 comments were received from 20 private individuals, five non-governmental organizations, and three government agencies. Comments were supportive of the ocean planning process and provided suggestions for the development of new data and management frameworks in the ongoing implementation of the ocean plan.

To further support the development of the 2021 ocean plan, CZM convened six technical work groups to review scientific data and geospatial information and to advise CZM in the characterization of important trends in ocean resources and uses. Links to the work group reports and recommendations are provided below.

Lastly, involvement of the OAC and SAC was a significant component of the review process. The SAC met in January and May 2020 to review recommendations for new data and analysis related to protected resources and uses and provided valuable feedback to CZM. In September 2020 and April 2021, the OAC and SAC had joint meetings to discuss both management and administration recommendations for the amended ocean plan.

On September 22, 2021, on behalf of EEA, CZM issued the following Draft 2021 ocean plan documents for public review, including four hearings, and a 60-day public comment period.

CZM then compiled public comments for review by the OAC and SAC and inclusion in the ocean plan amendment, as necessary, and then completed and released the final 2021 ocean plan on January 3, 2022. 

The final 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan contains revised maps of special, sensitive, or unique resources and water-dependent uses, a current assessment of the status and trends in ocean conditions, and a Science Framework to ensure progress on key ocean management priorities over the next five years.

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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