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Review and Update of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan

Find information on the current 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 EEA’s Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) leads the review process. The 2015 ocean plan was released in January 2015 as the first formal ocean plan amendment (see Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan Overview for a summary of the 2015 ocean plan).

The update of the 2015 ocean plan is nearing completion, and the following draft documents were released on September 22, 2021, for public review, hearings, and a 60-day public comment period:

Public Hearings and Instructions for Submitting Comments

Four regional public hearings will be held to receive comment and input on the 2021 Draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. The following hearings will be held virtually via Zoom:

Comments on the draft 2021 ocean plan must be received by: 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

Comments via email at oceanplan@mass.gov are preferred.

Written comments on the draft 2021 ocean plan should be sent to:

Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
ATTN: Draft 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan
251 Causeway Street, Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114

For more information, please contact CZM at czm@mass.gov.

If you wish to receive emails with updates relating to the implementation of the ocean plan, please send a blank email to join-env-oceanplan@listserv.state.ma.us.

Overview of the review process leading to the development of the Draft 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan

In December 2020, the Review of the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (PDF, 3 MB) was completed and published. The review 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, and Science Framework. Additionally, this document proposes a framework for policy updates and priority science objectives to support implementation of the ocean plan over the next five years. It incorporates stakeholder input, reports on progress made to date, and was developed with and reviewed by the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council.

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 a draft 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 also provided suggestions for the development of new data and management frameworks in the ongoing implementation of the ocean plan.

CZM also 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. The recommendations from the work groups were reviewed and commented on by the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council.

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