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Virginia CZM Program & Mid-Atlantic Ocean Planning

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Why Ocean Planning?

One of the Virginia CZM Program’s newest initiatives is ocean planning.  As uses of the ocean continue to increase, particularly shipping and energy facilities construction, it is important that we use our ocean space wisely while also protecting key ocean habitats on which commercial and recreational fishers and rare wildlife depend.  See Virginia Ocean Planning webpage for more detail.

Ocean Planning Regions on US East CoastTo help Virginia reach that goal, the Virginia CZM Program is working with neighboring states under the auspices of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO).  (See Virginia Role on MARCO webpage.)  An interactive, web-based mapping and planning portal has already been created with Virginia CZM Program funds which contains about 30 different data layers and allows users to create and download a custom map. 

Although coastal states “claim territory” only out to the 3 nautical mile limit, recent events have given coastal states an opportunity to expand their influence far out across the broad continental shelf, down the continental slope cut by cavernous canyons encrusted with cold water corals, to the deep sea floor and the 200 nautical mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone boundary.

U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s 2004 report, “an Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century'The impetus for states to become more involved in ocean management can be traced to the Pew Oceans Commission’s 2003 report, “America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change,” and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s 2004 report, “an Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century.”  It was clear that all Americans need to better understand their connection to, dependence on and responsibility for protecting the ocean and its many functions on which life itself depends.  The decline in ocean health, so well-documented in these reports, may stem from that lack of understanding.  Both of these reports called for the formation of regional ocean governance structures - listed below - Pew Oceans Commission’s 2003 report, “America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Change'to better involve local and state governments in what has always been federal territory and federal responsibility.  In the fall of 2008, the Mid-Atlantic States’ CZM Managers and Policy Advisors began talking and organizing what was to become known as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO).

Regional Ocean Planning is a regionally-based public planning process for stakeholders to analyze current and anticipated uses of ocean in order to:

  • Minimize conflicts among users
  • Facilitate compatible ocean activities
  • Preserve ecosystem health to meet economic, security, societal, and ecological goals
  • Does not create new laws


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For comments or questions concerning this program's web pages, contact the Virginia Witmer.

This website is provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through a federal Coastal Zone Management Act grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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