Ocean Conservation Work Group – New!
With input from stakeholders during the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum, the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean (MACO) has formed an ocean conservation work group. MACO has the breadth of membership required to address how to optimize ocean conservation and sustainable uses of ocean resources.
Some of the potential intergovernmental collaborative activities for an ocean conservation work group may include: 1) provide a forum for discussing what steps could be taken to identify conservation measures, and areas of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, that should be prioritized for conservation; 2) increase community engagement from diverse sectors in all activities to ensure all stakeholders are represented and DEIJ goals are met. Such engagement may require physically meeting with communities (as COVID restrictions allow) to facilitate dialogue and truly understand the needs and views of those not usually included in discussions of ocean conservation; 3) assist in addressing the Biden Administration’s goal of conserving 30% of the nation’s ocean waters by 2030 (document linked here: Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful 2021) by helping to develop the “American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas” and supplementing the Restoration Atlas and Marine Protected Areas Inventory.
MACO can help ensure that the region’s interests are represented in the National Ocean Plan in support of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. At the regional scale this work group could address sustainable uses such as military, wind or transportation, or the projections of climate change impacts on marine resources and the related economy. It could explore the idea of areas where commercial fishing, recreational fishing, non-consumptive recreation and conservation can be combined. The Portal can be used to indicate areas of these types of uses as well as locations of marine life and types of habitat. Seen as a neutral source of trusted information, MARCO can conduct outreach about National Marine Sanctuaries and the importance of their resources.
This intergovernmental group hopes to benefit from input from DOC (NOAA), DOI (BOEM and USFWS), DoD, DHS (including USCG), Tribes, MAFMC, underserved communities and all five states to develop a comprehensive understanding of how conservation efforts intersect with changing oceanic conditions such as climate change, shifts in species distribution, and new uses such as aquaculture and wind energy. Federal involvement will complement the state leadership provided by Virginia and New Jersey.